By Sean Crose
I’ve said this enough times that I’m probably driving people nuts: the biggest appeal of boxing is the fact that it answers a question. Who’s the best welterweight, Chavez or Whitaker? Who’s the best middleweight, Hagler or Hearns? Who’s the best heavyweight, Ali or Frazier? Without interesting questions, boxing is just two guys in shorts throwing punches.
That, I believe, is one of the reasons why boxing has been marginalized in American society. No one knows who’s fighting, so no one’s interested in watching the fights. Since the days of network broadcasts on the weekends are long gone, it’s hard for contemporary boxers to gain a foothold with the public.
Something has to be dangled in front of the public’s eyes in order to garner attention these days. Enter ESPN 2s Friday Night Fights. FNF, as it’s called, has been broadcast for ions. This year, however, a lightbulb must have flashed over someone’s head in the Bristol offices, for a contest was resurrected, a contest which would cover two weight divisions and give two winners some much needed publicity.
Most importantly though, it would generate interest in boxing.
The whole thing risked coming across like a joke. But ESPN clearly figured it was a risk worth taking. Needless to say, the network’s courage paid off. For the Boxcino Tournament has proven to be one of boxing’s highlights for the first half of 2014. Rarely has a broadcast been dull. What’s more, some names have emerged that are worth remembering.
Adams. Monroe Jr. Petrov. Carcamo. These are guys who entertained and generated some real interest over the past several months. I personally thought each of the two final bouts going into Friday were tossups. And that’s what made Boxcino such a great success – it generated a question.
WHO WERE THE BEST FIGHTERS?
The first bout on Friday, between middleweights Brandon Adams and Willie Monroe Jr. was an exciting affair. Monroe Jr., however, proved to be too fast, both on the inside, as well as on the outside. Adams, determined and game, ended up with his first defeat.
Besides being gracious in victory, Monroe Jr. showed some notable skill. The middleweight division is tough, with names like Martinez, Golovkin and Quillin ruling the roost, but by gradually upping the competition, Monroe Jr. may well be a guy worth keeping an eye on. Remember, both Ruslan Provodnikov and Adonis Stevenson appeared on Friday Night Fights. In other words, looking good on ESPN2 is no small affair.
As for the second bout, Petr Petrov met Fernando Carcamo in a lightweight bout. Both Petrov and Carcamo had numerous loses on their resumes stepping into the ring on Friday. No matter. These guys had shown they could fight all winter long. In fact, theirs was the more anticipated of both fights on Friday night.
Petrov, however, took Carcamo to school in the early portion of the bout. He displayed great defense, good movement, and went to Carcamo’s body – hard. By the middle rounds, the Russian was chopping his man down like a tree. He really looked like a guy to keep an eye on.
As for Carcamo, Teddy Atlas said it best: he looked like he didn’t have the strength. Even during the pre-fight televised interview, Carcamo looked gaunt and not entirely healthy. A talented individual, he may want to consider moving up a weight class. Or at least getting over an illness before he fights again.
He’ll have to do it as a Boxcino semifinalist, though, for the night belonged to Petrov. Noted trainer Joel Diaz told the referee the fight was over for Carcamo in between the 7th and 8th rounds, then was somehow convinced to change his mind. Fortunately, the referee wisely stopped the bout himself a few seconds into the 8th.
It was a brutal ending to a great tournament, a tournament that gave the fans two fighters to start paying attention to. Here’s to Monroe Jr. and to Petrov…and here’s to Boxcino.