Contender puts the punch back in boxing, says Jones
THE Wray & Nephew Contender Series has laid the foundation for growth and development in boxing, according to boss of the local body Stephen 'Bomber' Jones.
Jones, who was speaking during the launch of the 2013 event at the Television Jamaica Studios, emphasised his full endorsement of the Contender Series, and though it does not currently cater to female fighters, noted the impact it has had on both genders.
"I'm thinking that we are at a stage where the platform for boxing is set for us to get it to the next level. The impact has been big. I could not have asked for it to be any better. What it has done for boxing in terms of interest, boxers coming to the gyms, (and) female boxers coming into the gyms is great," he told the Jamaica Observer on Saturday.
The live airing of the series' third season is slated to begin Wednesday March 6 at 9:30 pm.
The Jamaica Boxing Board of Control (JBBC) president could not disguise his personal interest in the reality television hit, which many argue has been unrivalled in hauling local boxing out of the doldrums.
"As a fan this is my most exciting part of the year. The Contender Series is just phenomenal for all the boxing fans out there. For me as president, I look forward because I can see behind the scenes, see them (the fighters) training and I see it all coming together," Jones said.
Minister with responsibility for sports Natalie Neita-Headley, who was also at the launch, gave high praise to the Contender Boxing Series for rejuvenating interest in one of Jamaica's most popular sports.
"I believe the Contender Series has done well for the sport of boxing in that it has exposed Jamaicans to what the possibilities are, and it has rekindled (the interest in) a sport which we had a natural love for in years gone by.
"This (is) a sport in which we have done so well in. We have so international boxers who are Jamaican born who have excelled. I believe this series has really just revived talent that was already there," she argued.
In the eliminator-style competition, 16 boxers are divided into two equal teams -- labelled yellow and green -- to challenge for the $1-million winner's prize in the middleweight class.
The runner-up will pocket $500,000, while the third and fourth-placed fighters will receive $250,000 and $200,000, respectively.
Rikardo Smith won the middleweight challenge in 2011 and Donovan Campbell topped the welterweight category last season.