By Cliff Rold
It would be fair to say that the Lightweight quarterfinals of the “Boxcino” tournament exceeded expectations in the ring. They may also have made it tougher for the field to produce a new contender.
Right or wrong, undefeated records have some cache. It was all set up nicely with two undefeated fighters, one on each side of the brackets, potentially there to emerge as a new force. A funny thing happened on the way to the finals with more experienced pro’s sending both of those unbeaten marks to the dust bin.
What remains is a sound mix of three somewhat veteran battlers and a still fledgling professional with the chance to create a populist sentiment. If the fights remain entertaining, the winner of this tournament will emerge with the best push of his life. He will have been seen three times in short order on a national platform, this week on ESPN’s primary network rather than ESPN2 (9 PM EST/6 PM PST).
If the fans stay happy, they’ll be happy to see the “Boxcino” Lightweight winner down the road as a Lightweight title challenger. Familiarity and frequency are great ways to build a following.
Both fight present interesting style clashes with the most impressive winners in the quarterfinals still in opposing brackets. Who was the most impressive was a matter of opinion, but scoring the lone knockout on February 21 stood out.
Fernando Carcamo (16-5, 13 KO) vs. Miguel Angel Gonzalez (23-3, 16 KO)
Carcamo made a big statement in his opener. It was a statement about his chances of winning the tournament and about the positive of being matched tough along the way. Only 23, he’s gone from 10-5 to 16-5 with six straight knockouts. Turned pro at age 17, he may just be coming into his own. Samuel Neequaye was 21-0, with an Olympic pedigree, but had been matched carefully in the paid ranks. Carcamo’s second round stoppage sent him on his way. Can he do the same against Gonzalez?
Gonzalez has never been stopped but was a little lucky in getting to the semi-finals. There was reason to think the wild Miguel Mendoza merited the call on the cards. He didn’t get it and Gonzalez moved on. More a boxer than Carcamo, he’ll need his legs here and with eight rounds (instead of six last time out) has a little more breathing room to find his pace. Gonzalez gives up three inches and change in height. Can he use that against a Carcamo likely to press? He’s not without a little pop himself if he does and Carcamo did suffer a knockout loss in 2012. Whether this becomes a war or a chess match will be determined in the ring.
The other semi-final has a style clash as well, with the more pressing fighter giving up the height.
Petr Petrov (33-4-2, 15 KO) vs. Christopher Rudd (13-1, 8 KO)
If Carcamo’s knockout was the highlight finish of the first round, it was Petrov’s win over the previously undefeated Fedor Papazov that was the best fight. Both men went to work with stiff shots for all six rounds. Petrov was a little more precise, a little more refined, a little more fighter in most of the rounds. A lone knockout loss to Marcos Maidana need not be an indictment of his chin; Maidana is Maidana. Three of Petrov’s losses have come against real guys. The other was immediately avenged. Already 30, he fought like a man who knows time isn’t on his side. He looks like a favorite here.
With Rudd though, who knows? At 5’11, he’s got long limbs and moves his hands. In winning the ‘drawbreaker’ seven round battle with Yakabu Amidu, he built an early lead and surged in the final round when he needed to. One wonders, if the fight goes inside, how Rudd will deal with the short shots of Petrov. Rudd can wind up. That might be a bad place to be against a technically sound foe firing right down the pipe.
Petrov has to get close enough to make it count though. If Rudd can establish some range with the jab against his 5’7 foe, he can make it a long night. Against Amidu, he appeared to be losing steam over the course of the rounds. Who will eight rounds favor?
And will this night deliver as well as the first? Once expectations are exceeded, it can elevate them as action continues. If we get what we got the first time around, there could be genuine anticipation about the final.
One the rest of the week…Sometimes, the fighter is the most honest source of information about the future in a post-fight interview. Not the promoter, not the network. The fighter. After each of his recent fights, Light Heavyweight Adonis Stevenson was enthusiastic about facing Bernard Hopkins and less so about Sergey Kovalev. Maybe that indicates some ‘fear’ of Kovalev. Perhaps it reflects the desire to fight a living legend. Put aside the money issues and Stevenson heading to Showtime may simply be about the opponent he’s wanted all along…It stinks for Kovalev who is stuck in a bad spot. Light Heavyweight isn’t bursting at the seams. Kovalev, for however long he is tied to HBO, will need to pray that Andre Ward or the winner of Carl Froch-George Groves II moves up from Super Middleweight because, short of that, he’s likely stuck just mowing through the next tier for the time being…Kohei Kono sure has come back from the brink at 115…It’s less than two weeks until Wrestlemania. Get those “Yes” chants ready.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]