By Cliff Rold
Fans got a little bit of everything on Friday night at the Edgewater Hotel and Casino in Laughlin, Nevada, in the opening round of the Lightweight “Boxcino” tournament. There was a knockout, two undefeated fighters taking their first loss, boos after a split decision, and even an overtime decided via social media over the course of four bouts scheduled for six rounds.
It was that kind of night and fun from start to finish.
The final quarterfinal bout of the evening gave fans the lone knockout of the evening as well, ending any chance of an undefeated tournament winner in the cradle of the event. 23-year old Fernando Carcamo (16-5, 13 KO), 135 ½, of Ciudad Obregon, Sonora, Mexico, scored a stoppage in two rounds over 30-year old Samuel Kotey Neequaye (21-1, 15 KO), 135, of Accra, Ghana. The referee was Jay Nady.
Neequaye, a 2008 Olympian for Ghana, came out right away looking for the right hand. The southpaw Carcamo, relaxed, was ready for it and responded with damning blows to the ribs. Carcamo landed a little left to the head as round one moved into the final minute, pushing Neequaye off balance. The Mexican followed with a solid body shot before Neequaye could steady himself and sent the African to the floor.
Neequaye bounced right up with a look of panic, waving at Nady that he’d slipped but Nady rightly ruled the knockdown and dished out the mandatory eight over Neequaye’s protests. Neequaye responded by jumping right on Caracamo after the count, landing a right hand that had Carcamo rocked. Carcamo steadied himself and caught Neequaye with a stunning left just before the bell.
The shootout resumed in round two and it didn’t take long for Neequaye to find himself in big trouble. A right hook from Carcamo wobbled Neequaye and a straight right landed to the head as Neequaye went to the ropes. Neequaye smiled coming out of a clinch but Carcamo didn’t pay any attention to all that. He was there to punch and after the second of two landing lefts for Neequaye, he did just that, rocking the African back towards the ropes again.
A right hand, left uppercut, and left to the body all landed for Carcamo and Neequaye held on. Legless, Neequaye pawed with the jab but could do nothing to stop a concussive left hand. As Neequaye swayed towards the floor, Nady leapt in to wave the fight done at 1:58 of round two. Neequaye looked up to protest the stoppage on his hands and knees, his heart more sturdy than the rest of his body this night.
Carcamo scores his sixth consecutive knockout win since a pair of losses to end his 2012 campaign. Only 23, Carcamo may just be finding his professional sea legs and he’ll get to test them again next month when he squares off with the winner of the bout immediately preceding his when the semi-finals take place on March 28th.
In the third bout of the tournament, 28-year old Miguel Gonzalez (23-3, 16 KO), 134, of Cleveland, Ohio, scored a competitive split-decision over a determined 30-year old Miguel Angel Mendoza (21-3-2, 21 KO), 135m of Aguascalientes, Mexico. The referee was Kenny Bayless.
The southpaw Gonzalez looked to box early on against the wild swinging Mendoza whose punches wound up from long range. The caveman tactics were more successful to the body than the head while Gonzalez was able to land his jab and make Mendoza come to him. Mendoza did better in the second, swarming Gonzalez and landing some big shots with a willingness to take leather on the way to the target.
While Gonzalez landed some nice, clean shots in spots, the story of the next two rounds remained the swarming attacks of Mendoza. While unrefined, his awkward offense and willingness to swing whether he landed or not created opportunities.
Late in the fourth, Gonzalez appeared to relax and find a bit of a rhythm and it carried into round five, his best since the first. He capitalized more often when Mendoza missed and took less in return, boxing well and sticking counter lefts. It was anyone’s fight as round six began.
Mendoza came out fired up and landed a head jerking right hand. A left landed not long after and Gonzalez was pinned to the ropes. Gonzalez slipped and countered to get the fight off the strands and they traded body blows. Shoulder to shoulder in the center of the ring, both men dug in and threw, each man making a case for the judges. The fans cheered as the bout went to the cards.
The officials were split and the fans weren’t happy about it as scores came in at 58-56 Mendoza, overruled twice at 58-56 Gonzalez.
The second quarterfinal matched rugged ethnic Russians as 30-year old Petr Petrov (33-4-2, 15 KO), 134 ½, of Madrid, Spain, eliminated the chance of an all-undefeated tournament finale with a unanimous decision over 28-year old Fedor Papzov (14-1, 9 KO), 135, of Tuapse, Russia. The referee was Jay Nady.
The crisp, hard hitting opening frame saw both men land big shots with the right and left. Petrov did the better work with the former, Papazov the latter. The same would hold true in the second, both men taking turns launching eye-catching blows. Petrov’s precise blows often landed more suddenly, Papazov’s in thudding workmanlike fashion.
In round three, a raspberry of blood could be seen towards the back of the left side of Petrov’s head, likely indicating a clash of heads. It had no affect on action that continued at a crowd-pleasing clip. The final minute of the third favored a sharp Petrov and he appeared to be landing the cleaner blows as the fourth round developed. Petrov punctuated the round with a rattling combination before the bell.
Petrov was in control for the first two minutes of round five before a left hook from Papazov buzzed him briefly. Petrov shook it off and was back to working his quick jab and right hand by round’s end. Looking like he needed a huge finish, Papazov struggled as he had most of the night to be first and was caught with clean counters when he tried.
The judges rewarded Petrov’s superior work with three matching scores of 58-56. Petrov’s semi-final opponent was determined in the evening’s first fight.
In the opening quarterfinal, 29-year old Chris Rudd (13-1, 8 KO), 135 ½, of Covington, Tennessee, scored a unanimous decision by way of viewer voting in a draw breaking seventh round over 29-year old Ghanaian Yakubu Amidu (21-5-2, 19 KO), 135, of Los Angeles, California. The referee was Kenny Bayless.
The taller Rudd, 5’11 to Amidu’s 5’8, did his best to work in combination and keep the more experienced man at bay in the early going. Amidu started to figure out the range in the final minute of the second round, getting inside with body shots and short shots upstairs while making Rudd miss more often.
There was excellent two-way action in round three as both men battled each other and the six rounds of clock they had to play with. Both men landed stiff shots in the closing seconds, Rudd landing last and sending Amidu backwards. In the fourth, they went to the trenches with Amidu forcing Rudd to work off the ropes.
Rudd didn’t spend as much time on the ropes in the next two rounds but still struggled with the stronger Amidu, expending energy to keep him off and using his feet to escape the strands while taking the heavier blows. Matters took an interesting turn after the scheduled final bell.
Scores were tallied and the result was a draw, meaning based on the format of the tournament there would be a sudden death, or ‘drawbreaker,’ seventh round to be determined by fan voting via Facebook. Both men fought at high energy, Amidu pressing while Rudd worked in volume while switching between southpaw and orthodox stances.
Facebook ultimately sided with Rudd, the winner by unanimous decision.
The card was broadcast on ESPN2 as part of its “Friday Night Fights” series, promoted by Banner Promotions.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene and a member of the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]