On Friday evening, April 10, 2015, the semifinals of the Boxcino 2015 heavyweight and jr. Middleweight tournament took place at the Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem, PA. Airing live on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights, the event had the announcing team of Joe Tessitorie and Teddy Atlas providing the commentary with Ray Flores as the ring announcer.
In the heavyweight contests, the storyline was all about how the shorter men beat the bigger men. Andrey Fedosov of Hollywood, Calif. by way of Shuya, Russia (27-3, 23 KO’s), a 28 year-old, orthodox boxer, weighing in at 221 lbs. and standing 6’1” tall nailed the taller 30 year-old, 236 lbs, Lenroy “TNT” Thomas (19-4, 8 KO’s) from Saint Petersburg, Florida by way of Jamaica, with a straight right on the chin to end his night.
What made this bout so exciting was the dramatic start. Just seconds into the bout, Thomas landed a straight left to Fedosov’s forehead that sent him flying backwards to have a seat on the canvas. Fortunately, for Mr. Fedosov’s sake, it was what you’d call a flash knockdown and with-in a few seconds he was back on his feet to finish the round. By the end of round two, Fedosov had started to take charge.
In round three, Fedosov started landing these ripping combinations to the stomach which eventually had Thomas go down on one knee. The fact Fedosov may have hit Thomas while his knee was down was never brought into question even though replays show how close it was to being considered a foul. The fact remains, Thomas, with his now aching midsection, could not get up and referee Gary Rosado counted him out at 1:01 of round three.
The second heavyweight semifinal bout had 27 year-old, 6’4” Donovan Dennis (12-1, 10 KOs), 222 pounds defeating the 27 year-old, 365 pound, 6’7½” Razvan Cojanu (13-2, 7 KO’s) to the punch with a fully leveraged, devastating overhand left that sent the slower Cojanu to the canvas for good. With that one punch to the face, Dennis scored his second straight stoppage in the tournament. It all happened at the :59 second mark of Round 2.
“I was just working my jab and threw a lead overhand left,” said Dennis. “I saw he was open for it and caught him right on the button. I knew it was over. I felt it. I knew he wasn’t getting back up.”
Dennis, a southpaw, gave the slow-footed Cojanu fits early with his movement and sharp shooting left hands over the top which eventually led to the “where am I” stoppage.
In the jr. middleweight clashes, it was the 26 year-old John “Apollo Kidd” Thompson of Newark, New Jersey (16-1, 5 KO’s) putting on an impressive offensive and defensive display against one of the tournament favorites 25 year-old, 5’ 9” Stanyslav Skorokhod from Slavutich, Ukraine (9-1, 7 KO’s). Thompson utilized his speed and movement to outbox and out maneuver the Ukrainian puncher on his way to the split-decision victory. Ringside judges scored the bout 77-75 and 78-74 for Thompson, while the third judge had it 78-74 for Skorokhod. ESPN.com scored the bout 77-75 for Thompson.
In the other jr. middleweight contest, it was Brandon Adams (16-1, 11 KOs) of Los Angeles, Calif. stopping his buddy Vito Gasparyan (15-3-5, 8 KO’s) from Glendale, Calif. at the 2:24 mark of the seventh round after an accumulation of blows to the side of Gasparyan’s head led to this gruesome hematoma, a swelling of clotted blood within the tissues of his left ear.
The ESPN cameraman caught the shocked expression on Adams’ face when he first noticed the injury. In the interview later, Adams described the injury, “His ear was like a cauliflower, like when wrestlers get that. It looked like a heartbeat was in there. That was pretty tough to see.”
How Gasparyan was able to tolerate the excruciating pain up to that point is amazing. It’s got to be one of the most courageous but at the same time foolhardy developments ever witnessed on live TV. It ranks up there with the Hasim Rahman hematoma that came after a Evander Holyfield head butt. As soon as Holyfield bumped Rahman’s forehead, Rahman’s head began to swell and by the eighth round, there was a lump on his forehead the size of a baseball. It didn’t help that Holyfield kept on aiming for it.
Gasparyan’s comments at the airport before boarding the plane to return home: “Let me start off by saying thank you guys for the support. I never make any excuses, but we all know I was in camp already with a broken ear. Didn’t think it would get that bad during the fight, but it did. I take my hat off for my little bro Brandon (Adams). He fought one helluva fight. And for me, I shall see whats next but first I’ve got to take care of my ear. Health first. God Bless and thank you.”
Not wanting to disparage anyone, but Gasparyan’s regular doctor, his cornermen, the doctor who examined him on Thursday at the weigh-ins, someone should have drawn attention to this extremely dangerous situation.
As far as Adams, he’s looking forward to that second chance to win a Boxcino tournament title. After losing nine of 10 rounds on all three scorecards in the final of the 2014 middleweight tournament to Willie Monroe Jr., Adams moved down in weight not only to qualify for this tournament but as it now appears to dominate it.
The Adams versus Thompson and Fedosov versus Dennis finals are now scheduled to take place May 22, 2015 at the Omega Products International Outdoor Arena in Corona, California and once again it will be air on ESPN’s “Friday Night Fights.”
As a reminder to fight fans, ESPN did sign a multiyear agreement to air Premier Boxing Champions joining NBC and CBS as partners on the series created by Haymon Boxing to bring the sport to broadcast primetime for the first time in 30 years. The 11 two-hour annual live telecasts on ESPN and one on ABC will be replacing ESPN’s long-running Friday Night Fights series, which will air on May 22 for the final time after a 17-year run. The Friday Night Fights announcing team of Joe Tessitore and Teddy Atlas will continue to call the fights in the new series and the masterful Mr. Ray Flores will continue on as the ring announcer.
On Friday’s undercard
In the opener, Curtis Morton (3-4-2) of Myrtle Beach, SC upset Greg Jackson (5-2-1) of Philadelphia via a 6-round unanimous decision in their welterweight bout.
Eric Newell won a four-round unanimous decision over Brandon Spencer in a heavyweight bout.
Jon Bolden (7-10-1) outworked Ed “Tex” Fountain (10-2) to score a six-round unanimous decision victory in their heavyweight bout.
Ricky Nuno made his pro debut a success with a four round unanimous decision victory over Pat Kehoe (1-2) in their jr. middleweight clash.
Mike Liberto won his pro debut with a fourth round stoppage of Darnell Hayes (1-2) in a cruiserweight bout.