- Joe Tessitore, Boxing
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Saturday was boxing's Super Bowl. I spent it working at the track.
Arriving at Churchill Downs at 4 a.m., it was an epic day that included six hours of working Derby broadcasts. It also included at least a good half-hour of secret service pat downs, metal detectors and bomb-sniffing dogs. (All to secure the fact that I was no threat to crumple the Queen's light green with fuchsia ribbon hat). Unfortunately what the day didn't include were many follow-up visits to the betting windows. That seemed to be a one-way street with a "deposit only" sign.
I love the ponies, but a big Saturday night out called for me to satisfy my boxing fix. The day needed to be balanced with Oscar-Floyd.
So I did what any other travel savvy red-blooded male would do. I made my way to the nearest riverboat casino. The Caesars in southern Indiana may as well have been heaven on Earth. Replete with a steakhouse, the fight on high-def TV and a craps table serving up more "Yos" than a Rocky movie marathon. What better way to stay awake for 24 straight hours?
As I settled in to watch Oscar versus Floyd, I remembered my reaction to first hearing about the mega event. I thought the fight would stink stylistically. It did.
In my eyes, Floyd put forth a tepid effort on his way to a split-decision victory. The showing did nothing to sell more interest in boxing's most skilled fighter. Oscar sincerely tried to make something out of it, but against a defensive-minded and offensively frugal Floyd, what was there to do?
Then I thought to myself, hey no worries; in a few days you get to see Kelvin "Koncrete" Davis.
Watching Davis (24-5-2, 16 KOs), the former cruiserweight titlist, is like betting the center prop bets on the dice table. It's fun while it lasts and there are big rewards, but it can go real quick.
This Friday he will try to make it go real quick in the positive direction. Davis is fighting as a heavyweight against the sturdy veteran Terry Smith (19-2-1, 18 KOs) on "Friday Night Fights" (ESPN2, 9 ET).
"I think Kelvin is going to weigh around 207, 208 for this fight. He can still make 200 pounds, but we don't want to fight at cruiserweight," said his brother/trainer, Kelly Davis.
"Fighting at cruiserweight was never really our intention. It was just the people involved in boxing never wanted to give us a chance except at cruiserweight. That's how that all came about."
His last fight at cruiserweight was a typical Kelvin Davis thriller. In February on "FNF" he faced the dramatically improving Darnell Wilson. They started strong and never stopped. In the second round, Kelvin sent Wilson to the deck with a left hook.
In the third, Davis was still going after Wilson when he got caught. One punch landed flush, then another and another. Kelvin didn't go down. Finally a closing right hand sent Davis to the canvas. He got up. Yet when asked to walk toward the ref, he walked off to the side and the fight was called, and Davis lost by TKO.
"The last guy didn't beat Kelvin because he was skillful or he used some technique. He didn't do anything like that," Kelly Davis explained. "The guy beat him because of what Kelvin did. Kelvin gave him the opportunity to win by getting overly aggressive. He said, 'Well, I just wanted to finish him.' No, we don't work like that. It was an easy fight. Kelvin's jab was killing him; it was only a matter of time."
Now what is only a matter of time is finding out if Kelvin Davis can give and take a heavyweight punch.
Smith is a well-respected fringe contending pro who has been an elite sparring partner for some of this generation's very best heavyweights.
Terry had won eight straight fights before dropping a well-contested decision to an even bigger man. Two-time heavyweight world title challenger Jameel McCline was 6 inches taller and 45 pounds heavier than Smith.
Now it's Smith who has the advantage of size.
"Everybody I fought has been 6-6 and higher. I'm going from giants to a little man now," he said.
Why would Kelvin Davis take this fight?
"There are just bigger fights at heavyweight. Nothing happens at cruiserweight, no one cares," Kelly Davis explains.
You don't have to pay 55 bucks to watch it. You don't have to get frustrated about a fighter's lack of aggressiveness. You don't have to listen to that same fighter make ridiculous claims of butt kicking highlights, as if he's a prime Roberto Duran or Marvin Hagler.
This is a simple "FNF" to understand. Kelvin Davis -- a power puncher with compact size -- is going to try and chop down a bigger heavyweight. And the big heavyweight is going to try and teach him a lesson.
Joe Tessitore is the blow-by-blow announcer for ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights."
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