Sakima Mullings the No. 1-rated boxer in the Wray and Nephew Contender 2017 competition, had to fight off a stiff challenge from arch-rival Tsetsi Davis at The Mico University College on Wednesday night to book his place in the final, scheduled for July 26.
After seven pulsating rounds of boxing, there was a split decision, as judges Brian Beauchamp 68-65 and Keith Brown 67-66 voted for Mullings, while judge Lindell Allen voted 67-66 for Davis. The second semi-final between Canadian Phil Rose and Jamaica’s Richard ‘Frog” Holmes will take place next Wednesday at the same venue.
An exciting fight between these two rivals was expected, and it lived up to expectations. When they met in the 2014 finals, Mullings, who now has a 22-3 record, came out the winner when Davis retired in the seventh round of their 10- round bout. Davis, who is now18-6, did not flinch on Wednesday night, however, and took the fight to Mullings. Both men sent out early signals that they meant business, because, after a brief period of throwing tentative jabs, they started hurling ‘bombs’ at each other.
Davis usually came in behind a straight jab, and followed this up with right hooks to both the head and body. Fortunately for Mullings, only a few of the head shots found the mark, and he was able to work his way out of trouble repeatedly. He, in turn, concentrated on flurries, particularly to the body, and scored a lot of points this way.
He conceded after the fight that Davis was “a very difficult opponent and he really surprised me. His tactics were hard to read, as he changed repeatedly, and I just had to concentrate on my own plan of attack”.
One of the things that he tried was to use the ropes to his advantage. He repeatedly backed into the ropes to entice Davis to come forward, and it worked.
The only problem for Mullings was that Davis got the better of the early exchanges. The fight was close all the way and at the end of six rounds, two scorecards had the fight even. This meant that the final round would be critical. It was also a close round, and came down to the last 30 seconds. Both men worked hard, despite being obviously tired, and kept the action going to the last bell, after which they both raised their hands as a sign of victory. Mullings did get the nod, but just barely.
Although he was disappointed, Davis managed to smile when he spoke with The Gleaner after the fight. He said that he was pleased with his performance, and hoped that it would have been enough for him to win.
“I really wanted to win and take the title this year, but it did not happen” he said. He confessed that he was not able to put in as much work as he would have liked, and thought that it was unfair for him to have been put into the first semi-final after fighting on June 21.
“It is what it is, however. I came out and gave him a good fight and it seems as if the spectators were happy. My job is to please the crowd and I think that I did that.
I am tired and need some rest now ” he ended.