Gardener makes professional Contender debut tonight
Jamaican Michael Gardener, representing the Caribbean team in the Wray and Nephew Contender 2016 series, makes his debut as a professional tonight when he takes on US boxer Jose Guzman, over five rounds, in week five of the competition at the Chinese Benevolent Association.
Gardener, 22, is faced with a huge task, but he and his camp are very confident of victory, despite the fact that Guzman, 27, is a seasoned professional with 20 fights on his résumé.
It is not an impressive one, as he has won six, lost 13 and had one draw, but he has been a professional since 2006. He last fought on March 5, losing over six rounds to John Hernandez in New York.
Gardener has been one of Jamaica’s best amateur boxers and has been a champion in both welterweight and middleweight divisions. He represented Jamaica in overseas competition several times and is known to be a hard-hitting boxer. His major flaw as an amateur was that he had the tendency to react and fight back, rather than lead and be aggressive. As a result, he was usually coming from behind and in a three -round fight, found himself in trouble on several occasions.
Over five rounds he has more time, but still cannot afford to lose the early rounds as catching up will be difficult. The tactics he uses tonight will be very important if he is to make a successful debut. He has good punching power, but his opponent, who was born in Puerto Rico and has been living in the Bronx for some time, will likely be very aggressive.
The winner tonight moves into the quarter-finals, and will be one step closer to the Contender 2016 title and first prize of $2 million.