By Jake Donovan
Bracket season is back for boxing fans, as Boxcino returns following a successful run with ESPN2 Friday Night Fights in its 2014 debut. This year's tournament focuses on the super welterweight (154 lb.) and heavyweight divisions.
Brandon Adams and Stanyslav Sorokhod were big knockout winners on Friday evening at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut. Also advancing to the semifinals were John Thompson and Vito Gasparyan, who scored upset decision wins sandwiched in between the aforementioned knockouts .
BRANDON ADAMS KO5 ALEX PEREZ
From the moment the finals came to a close for the Boxcino 2014 Middleweight finals, Brandon Adams hoped for a second chance. The Los Angelino now has that opportunity, dropping down one weight class, where he is now a considerable favorite to take the Boxcino 2015 Super Welterweight bracket.
Adams took care of business in the ring, scoring a spectacular 5th round knockout of Alex Perez to cap the Boxcino 2015 Quarterfinals action.
If there was a downside to the evening, it's that none of the bouts were very competitive. The makeshift main event of the bout was no exception, though that was due to the skill set of Adams, who was way too much for Newark's Perez, a career welterweight who - on paper and in reality - was a fish out of water in this tournament.
After controlling the action from the first punch thrown, Adams came up big to end the night with a bang. A right hand coming around his opponent's guard crash-landed on Perez' jaw, putting the Jersey boy down and out.
The official time was 2:47 of round five.
Adams moves to 16-1 (11KOs) with the win, his second straight since coming up short versus Willie Monroe their Boxcino Middleweight finals match last May. The bout is also his second win of 2015, having wisely taken a tune-up fight just four weeks ago, stopping overmatched Lekan Byfield in two rounds, which also aired on ESPN2.
Perez falls to 18-2 (10KOs), with both career losses coming within his past four contests.
VITO GASPARYAN UD6 SIMEON HARDY
Vito Gasparyan hadn't fought since Dec. '12, but will now get to fight twice within the span of six weeks. The transplanted Armenian managed to shake off any built-up ring rust to take a surprisingly wide decision win over previously unbeaten Simeon Hardy.
Scores were 60-54, 59-55 and 58-56 in favor of Gasparyan, who overcame a slow start in the opening round to outbox the Guyana-bred, Brooklyn-based Hardy.
The bout was the least energetic of the evening, with neither fighter committing to their punches at any point in the evening. Hardy boxed well at the start, but perhaps took his opponent for granted as he eased off the gas considerably over the balance of the fight.
Gasparyan took full advantage of his opponent's concession, forcing his way inside and consistently beating Hardy to the punch. The threat of a knockout never surfaced, though neither did the threat of a momentum shift. Hardy simply couldn't develop a rhythm, not scoring style points - or actual points - with the three judges who had the fight wider than expected.
The win is Gasparyan's first since since May '12. His last fight came in a 12-round points loss to Jessie Vargas in a fight that took place during Fight Week preceding Juan Manuel Marquez' shocking 6th round knockout win over longtime rival Manny Pacquiao in their epic fourth fight.
His record now moving to 15-3-5 (7KOs), the 28-year old doesn't have to worry any longer about entering a fight cold. His next ring appearance comes April 3 versus Adams, with whom he used to spar when Adams was first turning pro in 2011.
JOHN THOMPSON UD6 RICARDO PINELL
Six rounds after the tournament's first winner - and knockout - was registered, came the start of its potential Cinderella story. Late sub John Thompson boxed his way to a wide decision win over Ricardo Pinell over six rounds.
Scores were 60-54 across the board for Thompson, who took the fight on 24 hours notice. The Newark (N.J.) native was on the alternates list, and stepped in after original entrant Cleotis Pendarvis missed weight by three pounds during Thursday's weigh-in, and thus was forced out of the tournament.
Thompson improves to 15-1 (7KOs) with the win, his first in 15 months. He now faces Stanyslav Skorokhod in the semifinals.
STANYSLAV SKOROKHOD KO4 MICHAEL MOORE
Stanyslav Skorokhod became the first to advance to the semifinal round of the Boxcino super welterweight bracket following a fourth round stoppage of Michael Moore in the opening bout of the telecast.
Both fighters came in undefeated, but the difference in skill level and ring season was evident early in the bout. Skorokhod is a well-schooled boxer from Ukraine, while Moore is your garden variety Midwestern U.S. fighter with a padded record.
Skorokhod repeatedly scored with his straight hand, a weapon which twice dropped Moore. The southpaw hit the deck in rounds three and four, the latter knockdown leaving him virtually out. Referee Michael Ortega gave the Cleveland (OH) native every chance to fight back, but rightfully stepped in to stop the onslaught once it was evident that Moore wasn't coming back.
The official time was 1:03 of round four.
Skorokhod advances to 9-0 (7KOs), picking up his second straight win on U.S. soil. Moore suffers his first career loss, falling to 13-1 (6KOs).
All four bouts aired live on ESPN2 Friday Night Fights.
The next round of Boxcino in the super welterweight division takes place April 3. Brandon Adams faces Vito Gasparyan, while John Thompson IV will meet Stanyslav Skorokhob, the lone remaining unbeaten fighter in the 154 lb. field.
The winners will go on to meet in the Boxcino Super Welterweight finals in late May.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox