The biggest upset in the 2017 Wray and Nephew Contender series occurred last Wednesday night, when Devon ‘Concrete’ Moncriffe, one of the top-seeded Jamaicans and the 2013 champion, lost to Canada’s Larone Whyte by split decision at the Chinese Benevolent Association auditorium.
It was a hard-fought bout that was decided in the final round, and both men gave it their all. At the end, Judge Ransford Burton from Jamaica and Jeremy Hayes from Canada scored 48-47 for Whyte while the other Jamaican judge, Keith Brown, had Moncriffe ahead 49-46.
Whyte, whose parents are Jamaicans and who now lives in Canada, had a strong fan base cheering him on, but so, too, did Moncriffe, who was his usual aggressive self. He had promised before the fight to give spectators a lot to cheer about.
“People want to see action and I am going to give it to them,” he declared at the weigh-in, and kept his word. He was aggressive from the start, and his younger opponent, at age 27, was hard-pressed to keep the 40 year-old warrior at bay.
Moncriffe used his jabs to good advantage, but when he tried his follow-up hooks to the head, he invariably missed.
His dogged determination and never-say-die attitude paid dividends, however, and he took the first two rounds on all the scorecards.
Whyte showed resilience and dug deep going into the third round. He had stated beforehand that he was “ready, ready, ready” and showed it. He kept cool under fire and followed the instructions of his corner to “keep close, go for the body and use the uppercut”.
He bagged the next two rounds, and it was on to the final stanza, where his fitness paid rich dividends. While Moncriffe showed the effects of his 15-month lay-off at crunch time, Whyte dug deep and found the extra spark that gave him a slight but decisive edge, as he convinced two of the judges to give him the round and the fight. After the announcement, he was flocked by nearly two dozen Jamaican relatives, who gleefully shouted, “He is a Jamaican tonight! We are proud of him!”
The two amateur bouts on the card provided excitement and lots of entertainment. In the heavyweight encounter, light-heavyweight champion Ian Darby of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) survived a late surge from Carlos Dwyer of Stanley Couch Gym to win by unanimous decision, while Ricardo Brown of G.C. Foster gym had too much firepower for Frank McKenzie of the JDF.