By Jake Donovan
It's been eight months since we've last seen Willie Monroe Jr. in the ring, but he picked up exactly where he left and in the same ring that produced the biggest win of his career.
The winner of the 2014 Boxcino Middleweight tournament had his way with veteran Bryan Vera, mixing boxing and occasional trading in a landslide points win Friday evening at Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, New York.
Monroe Jr. appeared at Turning Stone for his third straight fight. His hometown in Ithaca (NY) less than two hours away, the southpaw is already practically the house fighter but in recent years has become a crowd favorite at the venue. Friday's performance goes a long way towards understanding why; the 28-year old had little trouble with Vera, who is clearly on the wrong side of his prime these days.
For most of the night, Monroe Jr. successfully played matador to Vera's bull rush attack. Slick boxing without ever having to move very far was key in the rising middleweight building up an early lead and never falling behind.
Vera briefly made things uncomfortable for Monroe Jr. in round three, easily his best round of the fight. The battle-tested veteran used his aggression to his advantage, effectively cutting off the ring and minimizing the southpaw's movement. Monroe took a few licks, but avoided heavy artillery and was able to score with power shots of his own by round's end.
The rest of the evening flowed in one direction, though still producing occasional surprises. The most shocking moments of the fight came in round five, when Monroe went on the offensive attack, scoring a flash knockdown when Vera's glove touched the canvas as he attempted to steady himself.
Regardless of how you want to classify the knockdown, the follow-up attack was way out of Monroe Jr's character. Vera appeared ready to go at one point, but managed to survive round five and make it to the final bell.
The Texan was worse for the wear as a result, however, as the losses continue to pile up.
Scores were 99-90, 98-91 and 97-92 in favor of Monroe Jr., now 19-1 (6KOs) as he wins his ninth straight contest.
Vera's career, meanwhile, has hit a wall. The 33-year old drops his third straight - four in a row if you count a knockout loss to Gabriel Rosado in the inaugural Big Knockout Boxing (BKB Global) event last summer - as he falls to 23-9 (14KOs).
Brandon Adams needed a quick night's work, as his next ring appearance is set to take place in four weeks. The Los Angelino was granted his wish, flooring hapless Lekan Byfield three times en route to a second-round knockout in the televised co-feature.
The bout turned out to be every bit the mismatch as was suggested on paper. Adams, fighting for the first time since his loss to Monroe in the Boxcino Middleweight finals last May, was patient in his attack, an easy task since the flow of traffic was all in one direction.
Byfield's punch resistance was challenge two minutes in, when a right hand to the chin put him on the canvas for the first time on the night. The Atlanta-based clubflighter made it out of the round, but was quickly under siege once the bell sounded to start the second round. Two more knockdowns followed, including a body shot that left Byfield )6-7-2, 1KO) unable to continue.
The official time of the stoppage was 1:58 of round two.
Adams rolls to 15-1 (10KOs) with the win, his first since the semifinal round of the Boxcino Middleweight tournament last April. The 25-year old aims for another shot at running the field, dropping down in weight to participate in this year's Boxcino Super Welterweight tournament. His first fight is scheduled for February 13, taking on Alex Perez at Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut.
Making weight should not be an issue for Adams, who was a career super welterweight before moving up last year for the middleweight tournament. Still, the fight is four weeks away and his placement on Friday's telecast was the result of another fighter missing weight after attempting a quick turnaround.
Hank Lundy accepted a fight with Boxcino Lightweight tournament winner Petr Petrov on just 10 days notice. Lundy, who fought at 140 lb. in a narrow points loss to Thomas Dulorme on December 6, insisted that the fight take place at lightweight so that he could challenge for Petrov's regional title.
Had he properly trained, he could have perhaps made weight. Instead, Lundy showed up to Thursday's weigh-in with a chip on his shoulder, weighing in at 139 lb., four pounds above the contracted limit.
Petrov, who weighed 133.5 lb., was willing to go through with the fight had his scheduled opponent come in a little closer to weight in the allotted two hours to shed the additional poundage, as well as a rehydration cap during a same-day weigh-in check point. Lundy made no such efforts, instead drinking water immediately after the weigh-in and since mouthing off through social media about how his opponent was scared.
His actions resulted in the gaping holes to be found in Friday's undercard.
Greg Jackson survived the worst round of his young career, recovering from a second round knockdown to stop Cornelius Whitlock in the third round of their televised opener.
The wild welterweight scrap saw Jackson hit the deck in round two, a straight right hand clipping the Philly boxer on the chin and putting him on the deck. Whitlock appeared well on his way to an upset, but was unable to close the show.
While his arrogance leaves a bit to be desired, Jackson's fighting heart could not be denied. Stellar recuperative skills allowed the 26-year old to come back strong, raining punches down on a suddenly defenseless Whitlock before referee Charlie Fitch stepped in to halt the contest.
The official time was 1:27 of round three.
Jackson advances to 4-1-1 (2KOs), picking up his first win in nearly 11 months. Whitlock drops his second straight, falling to 3-2-2 (2KOs).
FULL TELEVISED CARD
Willie Monroe Jr. UD10 Bryan Vera - middleweights (Main Event)
Brandon Adams KO2 Lekan Byfield - middleweights (Co-Feature)
Greg Jackson KO3 Cornelius Whitlock - welterweights (TV Opener)
Taras Shelestyuk KO1 Antonio Chavez - welterweights
Cameron Allen UD4 Borngod Washington - light heavyweights
Vitor Jones KO1 Michael Doyle - super featherweights
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox