by Cliff Rold
Heading into the first round of quarterfinals in the Lightweight division, it would be honest to say anticipation was colored by a ‘wait and see’ approach. After a successful set of six round bouts that featured a two undefeated fighters losing their ‘0,’ one by stoppage, and four fights that all qualified as entertaining, week two of ‘Boxcino’ will take place under a new cloud:
The Lightweights set the bar. Can the eight men at 160 lbs. meet, or even exceed, it?
There is certainly an intriguing cast of characters. This time around, there are three undefeated battlers, a legacy candidate, and a veteran of over a decade trying to hang around just a little longer.
Let’s look at the brackets
Donatas Bondorovas (18-4-1, 6 KO) vs. Willie Monroe Jr. (15-1, 6 KO): With only twelve knockouts between the two, this looks like a good bet to go the full six rounds. That’s not a bad thing. As seen last week, the pace demanded by these shorter early contests forces fighters already used to eight or ten round contests to call on their amateur beginnings and skip some of the heating up. To date, the Lithuanian Bondorovas has seen the tougher opposition but New York’s Monroe has a fun pedigree. He is the nephew of Willie “The Worm” Monroe, a staple of the exciting Philly Middleweight scene in the 1970s. His uncle was one of only three men to defeat the great Marvelous Marvin Hagler.
Vitaliy Kopylenko (22-0, 12 KO) vs. Cerresso Fort (17-2-1, 11 KO): Minnesota’s Fort enters the tournament off a stoppage loss to Caleb Truax and has, to date, faltered when stepping up his competition. The Ukrainian Kopylenko looks like a strong contender to make a run, already with at least one notable win in 2012 against the then-undefeated Vasyl Tarabarov. So far, undefeated fighters are 0-2. Will the hex continue to vex here?
Brandon Adams (12-0, 8 KO) vs. Daniel Edouard (23-4-2, 14 KO): The Haitian Edouard may be the most recognizable name in the field. In 2004, he won a forgotten classic with Willie Gibbs but, since a loss to a then-rising Jermain Taylor, he’s never really sniffed contention again. He enters with two straight losses, the last to Peter Manfredo Jr. in 2011. Adams, of Los Angeles, has talent and a classic warrior in the corner. Trainer Yaqui Lopez was a big part of the last golden age at Light Heavyweight, best remembered for a savage war with Matthew Saad Muhammad.
Sena Agbeko (15-0, 15 KO) vs. Raymond Gatica (13-2, 8 KO): Gatica comes into the tournament off a decision loss to Fernando Guerrero. The Texan will hope for better here and can at least know he’s seen better fighters in the ring to date than Agbeko. He doesn’t have the same bloodlines as the Ghanaian banger though. Agbeko is the younger brother of former Bantamweight titlist Joseph Agbeko and, at 6’1, has solid size for the Middleweight division. If he can prove as good as big brother, he might be the favorite to emerge as a new contender at Middleweight before this is over.
It’s plenty to get excited about as week two of ‘Boxcino’ gets underway on ESPN2 on Friday night at 9 PM EST/6 PM PST.
Reviewing Week One
Having looked ahead, a moment to look back at the first week of action. Let’s begin with a mea culpa. In the coverage of the Lightweight quarterfinals, this scribe reported that the first contest was decided via Facebook voting in the seventh round ‘drawbreaker.’
This was inaccurate and a misunderstanding of the rules. Contacted by ESPN representative Stephen McDonald, the following was conveyed:
Facebook did not score the winner in the Amidu vs. Rudd drawbreaker round. If after six-rounds the fight is a draw, an additional round of competition will be added to the contest. If after this extra round, the fight is still a draw, the winner of the fight will be decided through the “Live Friday Night Fights Facebook Voting App,” an application on the FNF Facebook page that allows viewers to score the fight round-by-round. In this case, the fight was not a draw after the seventh-round, so there was no need to go to Facebook.
It was also explained, and later review of the tape also confirmed, that if the Facebook voting is also tied, the fight will be decided by three writers on scene selected prior to the event.
It stands corrected and apologies are offered for the error.
Moving on, an examination of the week one results and a quick look ahead at the pending semi-finals.
Chris Rudd (13-1, 8 KO) SD7 Yakabu Amidu (21-5-2, 19 KO) and Petr Petrov (33-4-2, 15 KO) UD6 Fedor Papazov (14-1, 9 KO): The seventh round needed came after a tough to score bout between Rudd and Amidu that left hard choices between the pressure and stiff shots of Amidu and the volume and pace of Rudd. The taller Rudd secured the win and, though he looked to be flagging late, he came up with the needed big effort. Rudd will be scheduled for eight rounds in the semi-finals against a Petrov who may have had the most complete performance of the night. He certainly won the best of the four fights, a hard hitting and rapid-fire affair with Papazov that left both men with room to grow. Petrov’s superior experience told the tale and will be an advantage against Rudd. How will he handle the height of Rudd though?
Miguel Gonzalez (23-3, 16 KO) SD6 Miguel Mendoza (21-3-2, 21 KO) and Fernando Carcamo (16-5, 13 KO) TKO2 Samuel Kotey Neequaye (21-1, 15 KO): There will be some who think Gonzalez is a little lucky to have reached the semi-finals and Mendoza certainly made it fun with a style that was anything but stylish. The swarming puncher made Gonzalez uneasy throughout but the winner deserves some kudos for settling down late to find a rhythm when he needed it. Carcamo didn’t have the Olympic pedigree of his foe but he punched right through the deficit. It was Carcamo’s sixth knockout win in a row and, at 23, it could be that we are seeing the beginning of a fighter finding his identity. If so, Carcamo’s earlier five losses might only have been learning experience that breeds a serious contender.
While the promoters may have hoped for an eventual clash of undefeated fighters in the final, what we have now can be just as fun. Carcamo and Petrov might be considered the favorites, but it’s anyone’s game to win and there are three fights to go before the finish line is reached.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org