Davis looks to beat the odds as a heavyweight
Appeal Sports Writer
The odds have always been against Reno’s “Koncrete” Kelvin Davis and that’s not going to change on July 7, when he steps into the ring with heavyweight Charles Shufford, of Las Vegas, at the Cape Cod Melody Tent, in Hyannis, Mass.
Standing 5-foot-7, the 1996 Sparks High School graduate has always had to fight bigger guys, whether they were among his several hundred street fights or his always larger opponents in the professional boxing ring.
Davis managed to defy those odds on May 1, 2004, when he stopped Ezra Sellers to win the IBF cruiserweight championship – becoming the first Northern Nevadan to win a world title – after dropping 10 pounds overnight to make the 190-pound limit for that fight.
But Davis had no control over the IBF, which stripped him of his belt after he refused to sign a contract with promoter Don King in Feb. 2005.
Although he eventually re-signed with King, Davis again found the odds stacked against him when, after only two weeks training and with no sparring, he traveled to Chicago the following May to meet former knockout victim Chris “Cold Steel” Thomas.
It wasn’t Thomas who brought the adversity, however. It was King, who told Davis at the press conference that he’d instead be fighting the No. 1-ranked Guillermo Jones instead of Thomas.
To make matters worse, Davis tore his left biceps muscle early in the fight – the injury was so bad that it looked like someone took an ice cream scooper and removed part of the muscle – and the 6-foot-4 Jones stopped him in four.
“He was a very active fighter,” said Davis, who is in Los Angeles training for the fight with Shufford. “It was just part of my journey. I took the fight and didn’t come out the way I wanted to. I was gun shy (after tearing the muscle) and didn’t pull the trigger. He beat me. I was a little depressed after that.”
A doctor told Davis his career could be threatened if he elected to have surgery on the injured biceps (he was told it could tear back off the bone like a water balloon), but he did have surgery on his right hand to remove bone chips.
Desperate for money and another chance at the big time, Davis took on undefeated Steve Cunningham in Cleveland -10 days after his cast was removed and once again with no sparring.
Davis dropped a 12-round decision to Cunningham, who will be facing Jones on July 8 for the No. 1 position and a shot at world champion O’Neil Bell.
“He ought to look at himself and say, ‘How come I had to go 12 round with a guy with only 10 days’ training?'” Davis mused. “The people (in Cleveland) thought I won the fight. The judges didn’t.”
Now 28, Davis, 21-4-1, with 16 knockouts, once again finds himself facing a tall order in the 6-3 Shufford, 20-6 (9). Shufford hasn’t fought in two years, having last lost a 10-round unanimous decision against the powerful Samuel Peter in May 2004. But he holds a victory over former WBO beltholder Lamon Brewster and once fought Wladimir Klitschko for the WBO belt, getting stopped in six in 2001.
Davis said he’s familiar with Shufford, having sparred him around 20 times when he (Davis) lived in Las Vegas and was an up-and-coming young fighter.
“It’s a whole different experience. Now we fight for real,” Davis said. “That was then, this is now. I’m a world champion. There are no friends when the bell rings. In the square jungle, there are no friends.”
And there are no heavyweights under 200 pounds, which doesn’t bother Davis, who said he weighs 207 and fought his first 17 fights against heavyweights, going 16-0-1.
“I’ve never seen a big stick of dynamite,” Davis said about giving up 8 inches and possibly 30 pounds to Shufford. “I guess people would have to come see me spar. Today (Tuesday) I was sparring a guy 6-6. The guys here are going 6-3, 6-4, 6-5. Ask these guys (about Davis). They’ll have something to say. The size of a person can’t match the size of his heart. I might be 5-7, but I’m 6-7 in heart.”
Davis said his hand has healed, his biceps injury is “fine” and his brother/trainer/manager Kelly Davis has been putting the boots to him in training.
“You know he has. There’s no playing around here,” Davis said. “There’s no time to be Mr. Nice Guy. It’s time to go in and take care of business and get to the top again.”
Davis said he’s been in training for around 5 weeks – the last half of which has been in Los Angeles gyms like Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Gym, the Pound-for-Pound Gym and another one on Watts Avenue.
Asked why he chose Los Angeles, Davis said, “You saw it in ‘Rocky III.’ There are a lot of high-quality boxers here. Reno isn’t a city that takes boxing as serious as L.A. does. In L.A. there are a lot of fighters on my level.”
Davis said he’s been doing a lot of running, alternating between going 5 miles before doing 400- and 800-meter sprints and doing the sprints first before going 5 miles.
“I’ve gotta get my groove back,” Davis said. “I’ve got to face the crowd again. Today (Tuesday) I busted some guys up. I busted up one guy to the body real hard and another guy I hit with a jab and right hand that slit up his whole face.
“A lot of these guys fight every week. Once I get my motor running, they’re in with a world champ – the best of all. They saw it today. They were saying, ‘Damn, this guy is no joke.’ Once I get in the swing again, they’re dead meat.”
Asked for his take on Shufford, Davis expressed the same confidence.
“He’s a counterpuncher and we train for the KO. That’s all I have to say about that,” Davis said. “We don’t go in to go the distance. We go in to knock them out. You still have to have a game plan. I’ll still be smart. I’m a 12-round championship fighter.”
Davis said he hoped the fight would lead to another against 24-0 heavyweight Malik Scott on the undercard of the July 22 Carlos Baldomir-Arturo Gatti fight, but as of press time, Scott was scheduled to meet James Walton.
Regardless of what lies ahead, Davis still has to get through Shufford first. Asked for a prediction, Davis kept it like he wants the fight to go – short and sweet.
“A knockout. That’s my prediction.”
And there’s no better way for Davis to beat the odds if he can break the house.