Davis to fight on ESPN2
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO – Like a hobo jumping from train to train, the cold/flu virus that has been hopping from person to person around the nation found its way to Koncrete Gym, where it’s currently hitching a ride with former IBF cruiserweight champion “Koncrete” Kelvin Davis and his brother/trainer/manager Kelly Davis.
The pair slugged and coughed their way through a tough six-round sparring session in preparation for Kelvin’s Feb. 23 fight with Darnell “Ding-A-Ling Man” Wilson, 20-5-3 with 17 knockouts, at Catholic Youth Center, in Scranton, Pa., which will be televised on ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights.
“They don’t want to give us (money for) sparring (partners),” Kelly Davis said. “That’s OK. I don’t give a (deleted). I’ll do it myself. I match up better with the ‘Ding-A-Ling Man’ than anyone else anyway.”
At 32, the 185-pound Kelly Davis is the same age as Wilson, who at 5-foot-10 is an inch or two taller and about 15 pounds heavier. Wilson, of Silver Spring, Md., is coming off a second-round knockout of former No.1-rated cruiserweight “Cowboy” Dale Brown on Jan. 19 and a fourth-round technical knockout of Daniel Judah the previous September.
The victory over Brown was significant in that “Cowboy” looked to have scored a convincing decision over O’Neil Bell in their clash for the vacant IBF cruiserweight belt on May 20, 2005. Bell was awarded a controversial decision.
Bell is considered the division’s undisputed champion after defeating Jean Marc Mormeck to unify the WBA and WBC belts. Bell, who has been stripped of his IBF belt, stopped Davis on an 11th-round TKO in their May 2003 battle in an IBF title eliminator, but refused the rematch after it was ruled he had hit Davis when he was down.
For the 28-year-old Davis, 24-4-2 (17), the match with Wilson (ranked No. 12 at cruiserweight by boxrec.com), is a chance for him to once again fight before a national audience, as he did when he became the first Northern Nevadan to win a world title. Davis stopped Ezra Sellers on May 1, 2004, for the vacant IBF belt in a Showtime-televised bout.
Since parting with promoter Don King, Davis, a 1996 Sparks High School graduate, has been more active than he has been since 2000, when he fought six times in just under seven months.
The bout with Wilson will be Davis’ fifth in seven months and would have been his sixth if Ernest Mateen, dressed in his ring attire, walked from his dressing room to the ring instead of to his Hummer in September.
With some dance music – bought in London, where he defeated heavyweight Paul King in October – playing in the background, Davis shrugged off his illness.
“I have a cold, but I won two titles with a cold,” said the pumped-up Davis, whose sleek black Under Armour outfit accentuated his muscular build. “The first title I won, I had the flu and a 103-degree temperature when I beat Arthur Williams for the USBA belt (in March 2003). I’d never been past six rounds (it went 12) but I beat him.
“When I won the IBA belt (with a one-round knockout over Rogerio Lobo in February 2003), I had a cold or flu, too. When I won the world title, I had to lose 10 pounds (in less than 24 hours). This is boxing. Things happen.”
And since the 5-foot-7 Davis and the stocky Wilson have the same build and same straight-ahead, bombs-away style, some exciting things may happen when the two collide in the 10-round bout.
“You can see in my face that I’m business-like,” Davis said. “I do what I got to do. I’m determined. With my brother training me, I’m determined. I get a second chance to get it right. I’m focused and not letting distractions get to me.
“This is a big fight for me. After this or the next fight, I’m going to fight for the heavyweight title. I’m back on TV now. I want to show (the fans) what they’ve been missing.”
Although the contract weight for this bout is 204 pounds – 4 pounds north of the cruiserweight division – Kelly Davis said a win could lead to a much bigger fight.
“They say they’re supposed to get us a world title fight at heavyweight,” Kelly said of an undisclosed promoter as Kelvin pounded a 200-pound heavy bag. “We’re gonna try to get some national exposure and fight again in April. We’ve gotta make sure we get this (fight) out first. We want a fight with someone like Samuel Peter.”
Peter recently defeated James Toney for the second time in a heavyweight title eliminator and is rated No. 1 by the WBC.
“Samuel’s easy,” Kelly said. “He wouldn’t even bring us in for sparring (for the Toney rematch). Kelvin can beat Samuel with just the jab. He whipped Samuel’s ass (in sparring) lots of times. I have it on tape. Samuel’s just that big black bag (that Kelvin was hitting).”
Kelvin said he’s not concerned about Wilson’s reputation as a big puncher.
“They said the same thing about Louis Azille,” Davis said of his split-decision victory on October 2003. “He was strong and muscular. He was 5-10 and all muscle. They said he was going to come to me and knock me out.
“After I knocked him down in the first round, he became a boxer for 12 rounds. Guys like that, they talk like that until they get hit by me. It’s easy to talk to reporters or on the news. But once they taste what ‘Koncrete’ hits like, their emotions will change.”
Davis said his last fight – an eight-round unanimous decision over “Wreckless” Willie Chapman – was good preparation for this fight with Wilson. Davis, who knocked down Chapman three times, said he headhunted for three rounds and had to dig deep with the “crazy” Chapman.
“I wanna go the distance and be tested before a world title fight,” Davis said. “I was tested by Azille before my world title fight (with Sellers). I have the eye of the tiger right now. I’ve run too many miles and trained too hard in my lifetime not to be No. 1. I am No. 1.
“This fight is my playoff game to go to the Super Bowl. It’s gonna be a good fight. I train for the knockout. I don’t train for 10 rounds, I train for the first-round knockout.”
After being stripped of his title by the IBF following his dispute with King, Davis said he lost the mindset that got him to the championship. He said that has all changed.
“The whole world gets to see me now,” Davis said. “I’m ready. God gave me my focus back. I’m on a mission. I know who I am. I’m a champion. My brother’s a champion. I lost focus for a while, but I’m back on it.”
And like that cold/flu bug, Davis is hoping to hop the train from national exposure to worldwide attention.