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Davis going for world crown

MIKE HOUSER

(This is the first in a series of articles following Reno’s Kelvin Davis as he prepares for his May 1 encounter with Ezra Sellers for the IBF cruiserweight title in Miami, Fla., which will be televised that Saturday at 9 p.m. on Showtime.)

RENO – Eric Harding, who unsuccessfully challenged Roy Jones for the world light heavyweight championship in September, 2000, had just finished his third sparring session with Kelvin Davis. Asked what he thought of the hard-hitting Davis, Harding shook his head.

“I’m thinking in three weeks, he (Davis) is going to be the champ,” said Harding, 21-3-1, with seven knockouts. “I’m willing to bet he’s going to knock out Ezra Sellers.”

The 25-year-old Davis, a 1996 Sparks High School graduate, but now fighting out of Reno, will attempt to become the first Northern Nevadan to win a world boxing title when he meets 35-year-old southpaw Ezra Sellers, 27-5 (24), of Washington, D.C., May 1 at Miami Arena. The 12-round bout, televised at 9 p.m., will be for the vacant IBF cruiserweight title.

The only other area boxer to fight for a world title was Carson City’s Nicky Walker, who challenged IBF super middleweight champion Graciano Rocchigiani on June 3, 1988, in Germany, but lost a 15-round unanimous decision.

The 31-year-old Harding, of Philadelphia, Pa., has split a pair of bouts with former light heavyweight titlist Antonio Tarver and was clearly impressed with the 5-foot-8 Davis.

“(Kelvin) is the total package,” Harding said. “He can hit, he’s strong and can take a good shot. He’s in excellent condition. He has longer arms than people give him credit for. He and I have the same reach (77 inches). Oh man, he’s a good body puncher. He’s a good puncher, period. He can punch with both hands.”

Harding said he is also familiar with the 6-foot-1 Sellers, a southpaw who was stopped in his only title fight, an eight-round KO at the hands of WBO beltholder Johnny Nelson, in April 2002.

“I’m not impressed with Sellers,” said Harding, who is also a southpaw. “He’s not as busy as Kelvin. Kelvin is way busier. He’s in good condition and in close he’s wicked strong.”

Harding said he was considering a move to Reno and was also full of praise for Kelly Davis, Kelvin’s 29-year-old brother and trainer and a 1992 graduate of Wooster High School.

“I like Kelly as a trainer,” Harding said. “He and I can work out something. (Kelly Davis said Tuesday he had worked out a deal to train Harding.) People are going to find out on May 1 what kind of trainer he is. I think people have doubted him as a trainer, but the (Davis) brothers believe in each other and have made it to the top. (Other trainers) though they knew more than Kelly, that they’ve been around boxing longer, but who’s fighting for the title now?”

Harding said he liked Kelly’s approach to the sport.

“He’s a student of the game,” Harding said. “I think in another year or two, he’ll be one of the top trainers. He knows his stuff. He asks questions and studies tapes. He knows what his fighter’s good at. Look where he took his brother to. His brother ain’t No. 1 in the world for nothing.”

Things are definitely on the upswing for the Davis brothers. Not only have they opened a new gym – called Koncrete Gym – but Don King recently bought Kelvin’s contract from Lou Duva, Davis’ promoter for the last three years.

The contract stipulates that if Davis beats Sellers, he will then fight in unification bouts with WBC titlist Wayne Braithwaite and WBA kingpin Jean-Marc Mormeck. If successful at unifying the cruiserweight division, which has moved from a 190- to 200- pound weight limit, Davis would then get a shot at one of the heavyweight champions.

“My strength is coming back at 200 pounds,” said Davis, whose first 17 fights were at heavyweight. “At 205 it used to be when I hit guys once it’d be over. When I hit them at 190, they’d just be hurt. They (his sparring partners) tell me I’m hitting like a mule. Now that I’m getting my weight back, I’m more powerful.”

Kelly and Kelvin both expressed a desire to have the community involved in their quest to bring the area its first world champion. They encourage the public to visit Koncrete Gym, located in Reno at 2540 Sutro, Suite 7, to watch Kelvin spar on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, between 1 and 3 p.m.

Davis will also lift weights at Nevada Fitness, located at 1575 East Lincoln Way in Sparks, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, beginning at 6 p.m. Davis will not only be available for autographs and photographs at both locations, but is inviting the public to do his roadwork with him on Mount Rose Highway, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

Davis said he runs five miles uphill beginning at Galena High School and meets for his roadwork at Best Buy in Reno, located at 5575 South Virginia Street, beginning at 5:30 a.m. Call (775) 324-7700 for more information.

MEET “KONCRETE” KELVIN DAVIS

Sparring: Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 1-3 p.m. at Koncrete Gym, located at 2540 Sutro, Suite 7, in Reno. 324-7700. Davis will be available for autographs and pictures.

Weight training: Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, 6 p.m. at Nevada Fitness, 1575 East Lincoln Way, in Sparks. Davis will be available for autographs and pictures.

Roadwork: Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Meet Davis at Best Buy, 5575 South Virginia, at 5:30 a.m. Roadwork is on Mount Rose Highway. Public is encouraged to run with Davis.