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Only in America; Davis with King

Mike Houser

(This is the second in a series of articles following Reno’s “Koncrete” 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 at 9 p.m. on Showtime.)

RENO – T-minus 21 days and counting.

Showtime is drawing nearer by the minute, and with it the dreams of two brothers – “Koncrete” Kelvin Davis and his brother and trainer Kelly – are still alive.

Kelvin Davis, 20-2-1, with 15 knockouts, of Reno, will meet Ezra Sellers, 27-5 (24), of Washington. D.C., in a 12-round contest for the vacant IBF cruiserweight title on May 1 at Miami Arena, in a Showtime-televised bout.

The 25-year-old Davis, a 1996 Sparks High School graduate, is looking to become the first local fighter to bring home a world title belt. Nicky Walker, of Carson City, is the only other fighter from Northern Nevada to fight for a world title, dropping a 15-round unanimous decision to then IBF super middleweight champion Graciano Rocchigiani on June 3, 1988, in Germany.

On paper, the Davis-Sellers bout is attractive enough, as it matches two sluggers who have a combined 39 knockouts in 47 victories. It features 5-foot-8 right-hander (Davis) and a 6-foot-1 southpaw (Sellers). And the contest highlights two boxers who began their careers as heavyweights, but now compete in the confines of newly created 200-pound weight limit (cruiserweights formally weighed 190 pounds).

But even more compelling is what’s at stake for both Davis brothers. For Kelvin, the rap against him has always been that he has had a limited amateur background (less than 10 fights), and for the 29-year-old Kelly, the criticism has centered on his own lack of experience, both as a fighter (he had no amateur or professional fights) and as a trainer.

Be that as it may, here they are, knocking on the door of the ultimate payoff for a professional boxer and his trainer. And they’re no longer in it alone. High-profile promoter Don King bought out Davis’ contract from Duva Boxing last month, and if Davis gets by Sellers, his new contract stipulates that he will be fighting unification bouts with Wayne Braithwaite and Jean-Marc Mormeck, the WBC and WBA titlists, with the winner going on to face a heavyweight beltholder.

Pretty big stuff for two brothers from the Biggest Little City.

“Things are a lot better now that we signed with the best promoter of the world,” said Kelly, a 1992 Wooster High graduate. “We sign with Don King and we go right to the main event on Showtime. (Lou) Duva believed in (Kelvin’s chance to win a world title), but not enough to spend money on him. We’d win and win, but he wouldn’t put big money into it.”

Davis earned his shot against Sellers with a 12-round split decision over Louis Azille, of Dominica, last October in Bushkill, Pa., in a title eliminator. Davis was originally supposed to engage in a rematch with O’Neil Bell following the pair’s May 23, 2003, tilt.

Bell, whom Davis had knocked down early in the fight, came back to stop Davis in the 11th round, but hit Davis while he was down. An appeal from the Davis camp resulted in the proposed rematch, but Bell declined.

“Don King calls us every day,” Kelly Davis said. “He wants to know what (Kelvin) eats, what he’s running. He wants him to be the next big thing.”

Kelvin is also pleased to be with the flamboyant and controversial King, who is easily recognized by his patented electric-haired appearance.

“People say things about Mr. King, but when you go from fighting on ESPN to the main event on Showtime, you can’t do more than that,” Kelvin said. “He likes me. He’s impressed by me. A lot of people don’t get to meet him face to face.”

Kelvin took a second to analyze his position and grinned.

“I’m straight out of Reno, fighting for Don King. That’s crazy. ‘Only in America,’ right?” Kelvin said, noting the irony in King’s signature saying.

Kelvin said he is still running five miles uphill on Mount Rose Highway beginning at Galena High School and said he will start running the five miles back.

“I know nobody else is doing it,” Kelvin said. “This is the Super Bowl of all fighters. One fight can change your life. All fighters in the world want to get to this level, but some never reach it. Together, Kelly and I have made it in four years.”

The brothers are encouraging the public to drop by their new gym – Koncrete Gym – located at 2540 Sutro, Suite 7, in Reno, to watch Kelvin spar and train on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, from 1-3 p.m.

“I want people in the gym so Kelvin will try harder,” Kelly said. “He won’t want his sparring partners to get the best of him in front of everybody.”

They are also inviting the public to watch Kelvin lift weights at Nevada Fitness, 1575 East Lincoln Way in Sparks, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, at 6 p.m. Davis will be available for autographs and pictures at both locations.

And in something out of a Rocky movie, the brothers are inviting fans to come do Kelvin’s roadwork with him.

“Kelvin’s not running 5 miles uphill so some rookie can whup him,” Kelly said. “This is what a fighter works for. We want the whole community behind him. Get out there and show him what you’re made of.”

Those interested can meet Davis at Best Buy, located at 5575 South Virginia Street, at 5:30 a.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

MEET “KONCRETE” KELVIN DAVIS

Sparring: 1-3 p.m., Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Koncrete Gym, 2540 Sutro, Suite 7, Reno. 324-7700.

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

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