Once again, ESPN favors the appeal of boxers competing in a two weight class, single elimination tournament to entertain boxing fans. Last year, Willie Monroe Jr. (middleweight) and Petr Petrov (lightweight) emerged from the “Sweet 16” who participated in Boxcino 2014, a tournament that featured 16 fighters from the lightweight and middleweight divisions.
ESPN, which aired their first Boxcino tournament back in 1997, won by future four-time world champion Acelino “Popo” Freitas, appears to be sticking to their guns.
“We love this format! It’s extremely popular with boxing fans,” so says Doug White, Senior Director, Programming and Acquisitions.
To begin the year, they’re featuring eight 154 pound Super Welterweight/Junior Middleweights competing at the Mohegan Sun Resort & Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut on Friday, February 13th. Then it’s off to the Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, NY. to host the 200 pound plus Heavyweights.
There’s no false bravado stating they’re about to showcase the next World Champions but what they do promise is some amazing story lines plus evenly matched bouts that will no doubt have everyone on the edge of their seat.
The match ups for Boxcino 2015’s Jr. Middleweight Tournament to begin Friday, February 13, 2015 at the Mohegan Sun are as follows:
The 28 year-old, 5’7”, southpaw Cleotis “Mookie” Pendarvis (17-4-2, 6 KOs) of Los Angeles, CA will be going up against fellow southpaw, 29 year-old Ricardo Pinnell (10-1-1, 6 KO’s) from San Francisco, CA.
In his debut back on November 3, 2012, Pinnell fought Ulises Sierra (8-0-2, 5 KOs) of San Diego to a mixed decision draw at the Phoenix Club in Anaheim, CA. Being familiar with Sierra, you got to know Pinnell must be one tough hombre in this Northern California versus Southern California showdown.
We’re going with Pendarvis in this one. After looking over the people he’s fought and the four belts he’s won, he has more street cred.
The 25 year-old Stanyslav Skorokhod (8-0, 6 KOs) of Slavutich, Ukraine will be facing Michael Moore (13-0, 6 KOs) of Cleveland, Ohio. The money should go on Skorokhod who has faced the more serious competition while his opponent, Moore, was inactive last year, fought twice in 2013 and only once in 2011. With his soft, padded record you have to wonder if he’s any relation to the pudgy Mr. Michael Moore, the Hollywood producer, author and social activist.
There’s no way we can put our trust in someone with the name Michael Moore – go with Skorokhod.
The 25 year-old southpaw Brandon “Cannon” Adams of Los Angeles, CA, managed by San Diego’s Bobby DePhilippis (15-1, 10 KOs) will be taking on the 32 year-old southpaw Alex “The Brick City Bullet” Perez (18-1-0, 10 KOs) from Newark, New Jersey. The one loss for Perez was to the Canadian NABO and NABF Welterweight Champ Antonin Decarie (31-2, 10 KOs). The one loss for Adams was that loss in last year’s Boxcino finals to Willie Monroe Jr.
Adams, who can hang with anybody, has this one flaw – hand speed. With his Mr. Universe size muscles, he’s just not quick enough to outscore an above average boxer. Plus our Mr. Perez is a six foot tall, southpaw which should give the 5’9” Adams trouble.
Still, you look at Perez’s inactivity – fighting just once in 2014, once in 2013, once in 2011, once in 2009 and then he didn’t fight at all in 2008. Perez had good reason for not fighting. Like Adams, who grew up in the neighborhood of Watts in Los Angeles, Perez grew up in Newark’s notorious, now-defunct Baxter Terrace Housing Projects amongst the gangs, drugs and violence. In this environment, he was shot twice and later faced charges where he could have gone to prison for 30 years. That being said, the combined record of Perez’ last five opponents was 80 wins, 12 losses. In those bouts he went 4-1.
By far this is the most difficult match-up to handicap. Shall we flip a coin?
The 28 year-old Vito “Casper” Gasparyan of Glendale, CA by way of Yerevan, Armenia (14-3-5, 8 KOs) will square off against 27 year-old Simeon “Candyman” Hardy (13-0, 10 KOs) of Brooklyn, New York by way of Georgetown, Guyana.
Don’t be misled by Gasparyan’s three losses – one was to Jessie Vargas, the current IBO and WBA World super-lightweight champion and another was to Jermell “Iron Man” Charlo (25-0), the current WBC Continental Americas Light Middleweight Champ. Still, Gasparyan should have his hands full facing an opponent like Hardy with a KO percentage of 76.92.
In a close one, we like Gasparyan.
The very next week, the Heavyweight quarterfinals will commence at the Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, New York on February 20. Those match ups will include:
The 27 year-old, 6’4” southpaw, Donovan Dennis of Davenport, Iowa (10-1, 8 KOs) will be fighting 37 year-old Steve “The Gentle Giant” Vukosa (10-0, 4 KOs) of Quincy, Massachusetts.
Vukosa, who was once trained by Freddie Roach, is the 2000 National Golden Gloves Super Heavyweight Champion who at one time appeared to have a promising career until he blew out his knee. After two operations, things weren’t working out. He then decided to pursue a regular job which turned out to be driving a bus. Constantly bothered by that “what if” scenario, he decided to return to boxing in 2014, telling friends, “One or two fights, win, lose or draw, I’m going to be done. This is just my way of ending it by putting an exclamation point on my boxing career. And, it’ll be fun.”
After the 12 year layoff, Vukosa made the best of that return by defeating Jason Estrada in a bout for the Massachusetts State Championship. His mixed decision victory over the 34 year-old ex-Olympian rekindled the spirit.
On April 18, 2014, his opponent, Donovan Dennis, fell victim to the 6’5” Nat Heaven of Ocala, Florida who knocked him out in the closing seconds of round one of their fight. Taking into consideration their age difference and the fact that Dennis will be older and wiser after that knockout loss, you would think Dennis would be the selection.
The gut feeling says that Vukosa will somehow pull this thing out.
The 6’7½, 27 year-old Razvan Cojano (12-1, 7 KOs) of Las Vegas, Nevada by way of Romania will be taking on 26 year-old Ed Fountain (10-0, 4 KOs) from St. Louis, Missouri.
It’s great to have that height advantage but is four years experience enough for Mr. Cojano? It will be against Fountain. He’s only been fighting for three years and he’s never fought outside of the state of Missouri.
When in doubt take “Cojo”, the giant.
The 28 year-old Andrey Fedosov (25-3, 20 KOs) of Hollywood, CA by way of Shuya, Russia is a 6-foot 1 inch, 223 pound banger who turned pro in 2003 when he was just 17. The 11+ year veteran will be going up against the 29 year-old, 6’5” Nathanael “Nat” Heaven (9-1, 7 KOs) of Ocala, Florida. Heaven, who doesn’t have any amateur experience, is what you call a natural. If he had the proper preparation, if he had the proper coaching and if he had the proper mentoring, who knows how far he could go.
Unlike Fedosov, who has remained dedicated to his craft, Heaven has often gone astray. For a while there he thought basketball would be his salvation and didn’t get started in boxing until he was 24. Then, there were the constant run-ins with the law. The offenses included armed robbery, grand larceny, burglary and a parole violation. If he has turned his life around, he could be an exceptional boxer.
This one is a no-brainer – put Andrey Fedosov down as your winner.
The 22 year-old 6’2” Mario “Chabelo” Heredia (9-1-0, 7 K0s) is from Mexico, Distrito Federal, Mexico. He will be taking on the 29 year-old 6’2½” Jamaican southpaw Lenroy “TNT” Thomas (18-3-0, 9 KOs) who now lives in Saint Petersburg, Florida.
In 2011, Heredia, the two-time Mexican National Champion, shocked Donovan Dennis by knocking him out in the fourth round of their World Series of Boxing match. Also, on December 15, 2012, Heredia, who turned pro in February of that year, avenged his only Pro loss by knocking Wilfrido Leal out in the first round of their rematch.
The first time Henley faced anyone of note, like the 29 year-old 2012 Olympian Dominic Breazeale, he got knocked out. At this time, going against the youthful Heredia with his heart and skills would be foolish.
As in the Jr. Middleweight matches, the winners of the Heavyweight contests will be moving on to the semifinals which will take place on April 3 and April 10 respectively. The winners of bout 1 will fight the winners of bout 2 while the winners of bouts 3 and 4 will fight each other in the semifinals at a venue to be announced.
The Quarterfinal bouts in both tournaments are scheduled for six rounds with the semifinal matches slated for eight rounds and the finals in both tournaments set for 10 rounds.
The entire Boxcino 2015 series will be televised live on the popular show “ESPN Friday Night Fights”. Promoted by Banner Promotions and Jimmy Burchfield’s Classic Entertainment & Sports, remaining tickets to the February 13 edition are priced at $125, $65, $40 and $30 to include facility fee. They can be purchased via www.ticketmaster.com by phone at 1-800-745-3000, at all Ticketmaster outlets or in person at the Mohegan Sun Box Office.
The host of the February 20th bouts, the Oneida Indian Nation’s Turning Stone Resort Casino continues to distinguish itself as a premier destination for professional sporting events, including the nationally televised boxing matches and professional-level golf. Their February 20th show will mark their 14th nationally-televised boxing event in less than two years. Within the past year, boxing legends Mike Tyson and Floyd Mayweather Jr. have promoted televised fight cards at this resort. Turning Stone has also hosted boxing events on Showtime, HBO, and NBC. Located in upstate New York, the resort offers world-class entertainment, gaming, an eclectic mix of restaurants, a luxury spa and award-winning accommodations.
Tickets for the February 20th ESPN Friday Night Fights Show at Turning Stone are on sale now at the Turning Stone box office, in person or by calling 315.361.7469, or online at Ticketmaster. Tickets are $60 for ringside seats, $35, $25, and are subject to additional fees.