It's been nearly 55 weeks since he won the vacant IBF cruiserweight belt with an eight-round knockout of Ezra Sellers in Miami, but Reno's "Koncrete" Kelvin Davis is finally getting a chance to fight again.
The 26-year-old Davis (21-2-1, with 16 knockouts) will travel to Chicago to meet Chris "Cold Steel" Thomas (16-4-1, 14 KO's) in a 12-round contest for Thomas' NABO cruiserweight title Saturday.
The bout will be on the undercard of the WBO heavyweight title tilt featuring Lamon Brewster and Andrew Golota and will not be part of the HBO telecast.
Nevertheless, Davis, who was stripped of his IBF title Feb. 9, will have the opportunity to move into the sanctioning body's No. 1 or No. 2 spot with a victory. Davis is currently ranked No. 15 by the IBF, which stripped Davis after his promoter, Don King, didn't allow him to defend his belt against O'Neil Bell on Feb. 5 because of a contract dispute.
"I won't feel good until I'm actually back in the ring fight night," Davis said Sunday at Koncrete Gym. "It's happened before. I'll be ready for a fight and then the fight won't come through. But I'm proud to get the actual date of the fight."
Kelly Davis, Kelvin's brother/trainer/manager, said people shouldn't blame Kelvin for the inactivity.
"When people say it's been one year and three weeks since he's fought, it's (B.S.)," Kelly Davis said. "It wasn't intentional. It's not like Trinidad, who took off over two years because he felt like it. We were mentally and physically ready to go. Kelvin never blew up to 220. He stayed in shape."
The 5-foot-7 Davis, who was a muscular 204 pounds Sunday, said he'd have no problem dropping down to 200 by Saturday to face the 6-foot-4 Thomas, whom he previously stopped in two rounds May 13, 2000, in Indianapolis.
Kelvin said he didn't remember details of the fight, which was his ninth professional fight (Davis was 8-0, Thomas 4-1), but Kelly's recollection was more vivid.
"Kelvin stunned (Thomas) in the first round when he (Thomas) came in moving with his head down," Kelly said. "When Kelvin came out of the corner in the second he ran over and hit him with an overhand right. That was it."
In spite of the one-sided ending, one shouldn't dismiss the rematch with a wave of the hand. Thomas, of Chicago, is trained by Sam Colonna, who used to train former junior lightweight and lightweight contender Angel Manfredy. Thomas has also won his last four bouts, one of which was an impressive two-round stoppage of contender Richie LaMontagne on Sept. 26, 2004.
"We don't look at him as a guy we've beaten already," Kelly Davis said. "If that was the case Kelvin wouldn't be running six or seven miles a day up Mt. Rose or banging the heavybag. Chris Thomas is a good fighter. He's earned his way back up. Rich LaMontagne was a good fighter."
One issue that Davis will have to face is his lack of sparring. Because he accepted this fight on short notice in order to get back in the ring, Davis wasn't the beneficiary of any training expenses, which King would normally supply so Davis could bring in some sparring partners.
"His timing could be off a little," Kelly admitted. "But we have the hand pads and I wear the body (vest). He's not going to be in a boxing match anyway. He's going to get in close and bang. He's been training hard since January. He practices 25-26 rounds. What's 12 now? Lets do it."
Kelly also has a unique perspective on Thomas' 9-inch height advantage. The reason? The advantage isn't an advantage.
"Taller is easier for Kelvin," Kelly said. "Every trainer in the world will say to (Thomas) to stand tall against Kelvin. I tell Kelvin to get smaller. It's all mental. That kid (Thomas) got pulled out on a stretcher. What's on his mind? That (knockout) is on his mind. What's he going through?"
Thomas wasn't around to answer that question, but for his part, Kelvin appeared a little more moody than usual, even though he grinned as he spoke.
"I'm not worried at all," Davis said when asked about his lack of sparring and the 55-week layoff. "I gotta do what I gotta do, stick to my game plan. Knock his (butt) out. Be smart. Every punch I throw, just try to knock his (butt) out."
Davis said he wasn't worried about his ranking.
"I look at it like this: Even though I've been off a year, I'm coming in as the champion," Davis said. "I never lost it. Nobody beat me. In my mind I'm still the champ. It's time to get back on track. Get my life back."
NOTES: Bruno's Boxing Club will be hosting a 15-bout amateur show Saturday at the Stewart Gym (5500 Snyder Way in the Stewart Facility). The 3 p.m. card will feature clubs from Reno, Carson City, Las Vegas and California.
Also featured will be Nevada Junior Olympic champion Jose "Chuy" Elizondo, ranked No. 3 nationally in the Silver Gloves at 150 pounds. Refreshments and snacks will be served. Tickets are $8 for general admission, $5 for seniors. Children under 10 will be admitted for free.
n Contact Mike Houser at firstname.lastname@example.org