By Jason Pribila:
The cameras of ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights captured the finales of the Boxcino middleweight and lightweight tournaments live from the Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona, New York.
The Sweet Science has been off to a sluggish start in 2014. The Cold War between boxing’s biggest promoters and cable networks often leave fans and writers discussing the fights that aren’t being made rather than focusing on the action taking place in the ring.
A breath of fresh air was found with a pair of single elimination tournaments that were televised as part of the Friday Night Fights schedule.
In the televised main event lightweight Petr Petrov (35-4-2, 16 KO) dominated Fernando Carcamo (17-6, 13KO) en route to an eighth TKO. In 2011 Petrov challenged Marcos Maidana for a junior welterweight title and came up short. He used this televised tournament to put himself back in the market for meaningful fights. Fortunately for him his promotional ties will not limit potential foes down the road.
Petrov took control early and punished Carcamo in what many felt would be a competitive bout. Rumors of Carcamo struggling to make weight played out as he looked drained and sluggish with each passing round.
Petrov stepped on the gas in the seventh round. For three minutes Petrov found it difficult to miss Carcamo. Petrov had Carcamo out on his feet after a pair of left hooks landed at the end of the round. It was a bit surprising that Carcamo came off his stool in round eight. Forty seconds later the fight was mercifully waved off.
The middleweight finale featured a raw but undefeated prospect in Brandon Adams against the man who seemed to improve each of the three times he entered the ring during the tournament, Willie Monroe Jr.
Philadelphia fans remember the name Willie “The Worm” Monroe who was a middleweight challenger who fought during the heyday of middleweight fights that took place at the Philadelphia Spectrum.
The Boxcino tournament introduced them to his nephew, the 27 year old Monroe Jr. Despite entering the tournament with a 15-1 record, Monroe was not the favorite to come out victorious. A semi-final win over previously undefeated Vitaly Kopylenko carried over to Friday night, and fans were treated to seeing a fighter who matured before their eyes over the last three months.
Monroe was well prepared for the hard charging Adams and he controlled the distance throughout the fight. Monroe featured a solid jab and superior lateral movement that prevented Adams from gaining momentum.
Adams would enjoy some success when he was able to get inside of the longer Monroe, but as the fight went on Monroe was able to make adjustments as he simply had more answers.
By the end of the fight it was clear that Adams needed to land something dramatic, but Monroe made it obvious that he was not going to allow that to happen.
In the end the judges handed in cards that reflected the action in the ring. Each favored Monroe Jr. by scores of 99-91.
Suddenly the middleweight division has a marketable boxer with a familiar name who gained more confidence in three months than in his sixteen previous bouts combined.
Kudos to all the fighters who signed on to make these tournaments successful. It’s a dare to be great proposal that few fighters are willing to make. Too many managers want to sit back, hand pick opponents, while keeping the shine on glossy records. In 12 weeks, two fighters stormed ahead of the peers in their weight classes who sat back waiting for a single television date.
Jason Pribila is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He could be followed on Twitter.com @PribsBoxing.