By Jake Donovan
Bethlehem, PA--Brandon Adams is heading back to a Boxcino finals.
Less than a year after coming up short in the Boxcino Middleweight finals, the Californian boxed and slugged his way to the championship round of the Boxcino 2015 Junior Middleweight bracket. The feat came after forcing Vito Gasparyan to unwillingly quit in seven rounds Friday evening at Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
The bout was generally one way, save for a brief rally and adjustment by Gasparyan in the middle rounds. For the most part, Adams was a man on a mission, eager to finish what he started a year ago and this time around take the entire thing.
Adams began to pile up rounds and had a full-blown target on which to focus. As the fight wore on, Gasparyan's left ear began to swell grotesquely. The fight was ultimately stopped after he grew what resembled "cauliflower" ear, with the referee fearing permanent damage had the action continued.
"I didn't know what was going in. It was like a heart was growing in there or something. It looked like a cauliflower. It was tough to see," admits Adams, who picks up his second straight Boxcino win and knockout.
The win moves Adams' record to 17-1 (12KOs), as he moves on to the finals. He made it to that same point last year before succumbing to Willie Monroe Jr. last May.
A championship is well within his sights this time around. He will face lefty boxer John Thompson, who scored a major upset over Stanyslav Skorokhod in their semifinal matchup.
"For one, I have experience fighting southpaws," Adams noted when asked what he learned since last year's loss. "I'm used to fighting taller fighters.
"I'm ready to finish this tournament."
He'll have to do so against the surprise entry of the tournament. Thompson initially made the eight-man field as an alternate selection, but is now riding out the Cinderella dream to the finish line after a surprise split decision win over Skorokhod.
Scores were 78-74 in both directions, with Thompson breaking the tie by way of a 77-75 tally on the third card to survive the hard-fought eight-round affair.
With only five knockouts in 16 previous career fights and his lone loss coming via stoppage, there was little doubt that Thompson's strategy was to box his way to victory. The Newark (NJ) native did just that, working his jab early on in the bout. Skorokhod clearly came to bring the pain, forcing the issue in an aggressive second round to keep the fight on an even keel.
Thompson put his chin at risk by keeping it exposed after nearly every exchange. Skorokhod was unable to take advantage of the defensive deficiency, ultimately proving to be his undoing in an otherwise tightly contested bout.
Momentum never seemed to last at any point, with fans split on who was getting the better of the action in any given round. The sense after eight rounds was the possibility of a draw, which would've meant the two fighting in a tiebreaking ninth round.
It didn't come to that, as some of those tough-to-score rounds were ultimately scored all over the place. Both won six rounds to two on opposing cards, with the deciding judge having Thompson win five rounds - just enough to move on to the finals.
The win is the second straight for Thompson, who moves to 16-1 (5KOs). His lone loss came last January, suffering a 2nd round knockout to Frank Galarza, who fights opposite this ESPN2 Friday Night Fights telecast as he headlines on ShoBox at home in Brooklyn.
Skorokhod suffers the first loss of his young career, falling to 9-1 (7KOs). From a standpoint of ring activity, Skorokhod was the least experienced pro boxer of the tournament, but still a heavy betting favorite to advance to the finals.
Both semifinal bouts aired live on ESPN2 Friday Night Fights.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox