By Eric Duran
After a sensational opening round to the 2015 Boxcino Jr. Middleweight tournament, ESPN returns with the opening round of the Heavyweight tournament, as eight promising heavyweights get ready to rumble at the Turning Resort and Casino in Verona, New York.
The participants include Donovan Dennis, Steve Vukosa, Razvan Cojanu, Ed Fountain, Andrey Fedosov, Nat Heaven, Jason Estrada and Lenroy Thomas.
Following the strong performances of Brandon Adams and Stanyslav Skorohod in the Jr. Middleweight tournament, these heavyweights now have the pressure of the boxing world bestowed upon them to put on a show and advance to the semi-finals.
Donovan Dennis (10-1, 8 KOs) vs. Steve Vukosa (10-0, 4 KOs)
Donovan Dennis was a promising prospect under Banner promotions, starting his career with a 9-0 record. In his 10th fight, Donovan was stopped in the first round by tournament participant, Nat Heaven. With roughly 10 seconds left in the round, Heaven caught Dennis with a chopping right hand that sent Dennis crashing to the canvas, with the impact practically waking him up. Dennis beat the count, but not before the referee waved off the bout. He rebounded with a six-round decision win against “opponent” Jamal Woods four months later.
Dennis will face the unbeaten Steve Vukosa (10-0, 4 KOs) in the opening round of the Boxcino tournament. Vukosa was 8-0 between 2001-2002, being trained by Freddie Roach before retiring due to a major knee injury. In 2014, Vukosa returned after a 12-year retirement at the age of 37, defeating former Olympian David Estrada over eight rounds for the USA New England heavyweight title.
All the pressure will be on Dennis, but don’t expect an easy bout for the eight-time Iowa amateur champ, as Vukosa is no slouch and is a crafty southpaw.
Razvan Cojanu (12-1, 7 KOs) vs. Ed Fountain (10-0, 4 KOs)
The Romania product, Razvan Cojuna, is 12-0 since losing his debut fight in 2011. Cojuna is a former Olympian, representing his home country at the 2008 summer games. At 6’7, 260 lbs, Cojuna is behemoth of a man, once training under the watchful eyes of Jeff Mayweather in Las Vegas, NV. Now a resident of Los Angeles, Cojuna, the current WBO Asia Pacific heavyweight champion, will look to make a name for himself against Ed Fountain.
Fountain (10-0, 4 KO’s) of St. Louis, MO is a product of the Midwest circuit, where fighters’ records are built up for them to be “fed” to future opponents. There is no history of an amateur background nor a solid name on his resume. It’s unsure of what he will bring to the table as no video of his fights exists either. Maybe we will be in for a surprise or maybe even a shocker,
“I am the underdog, and I am going to have some fun,” says Fountain.
“I hope he brings his best so I can prove myself. I know he is a veteran. I look forward to knocking him out and putting myself at the top of the tournament.”
Cojuna is the obvious favorite heading into the bout.
“Everything has been great,” says the fighter.
“I am ready to go. I had top sparring and it went great. To be honest, I don’t know much about Ed Fountain other than he is a southpaw. That doesn’t matter to me as I just go in there and do my job,” stated Cojuna.
Andrey Fedosov (25-3, 20 KOs) vs. Nat Heaven (9-1, 7 KOs)
Based from records and resumes, Andrey Fedosov is the pronounced favorite entering the heavyweight tournament, The Russian, Chicago-based product has record of 25-3 with 20 KO’s, once holding the WBC Youth Continental heavyweight title. His resume includes losses to Bryant Jennings and Lance Whitaker as well as wins over journeymen Maurice Harris and Darnell Wilson.
Although the scorecards were one-sided at the time of the stoppage against Jennings, Fedosov’s performance was above average, giving Jennings all he could handle over six rounds. Chicago promoter Bobby Hitz has high expectations for his fighter going into the Boxcino tournament.
Nat Heaven is no slouch as proved he can hang with the big boys, stopping tournament participant Dennis Donovan in devastating fashion last April.
Unfortunately, he lost all momentium when he was stopped by journeyman Stacy Frazier in his following bout, inside of round one. Heaven is an athlete though, playing one season of college basketball at the University of Evansville on a scholarship.
What we do know about Heaven is that he is an explosive puncher, stopping seven of his nine victims.
“From what I have seen, [Fedosov] will try to put a lot of pressure. He is aggressive and likes to go to the body,” states Heaven.
“Training has been so well that we just want to take this from training to the ring.”
Will Heaven have enough fire power to stop Fedosov? We shall see but I expect this fight to end in explosive fashion as both fighters are heavy handed.
Jason Estrada (20-5, 6 KOs) vs. Lenroy Thomas (18-3, 9 KOs)
Jason Estrada is a late replacement to the tournament, taking the place of Mario Heredia, who pulled out of the tournament for medical reasons.
Estrada has been a disappointment since turning pro in 2004 following a stellar amateur that saw him participate in the 2004 Summer Olypimcs.
After a two-year hiatus following a four-fight winning streak, Estrada returned in 2014, only to lose to fellow participant, Steve Vukosa. Estrada plans on using the Boxcino tournament as a chance to prove his doubters wrong,
“This is such a good opportunity that I could not pass it up, and I am throwing my hat in the ring,” Estrada says.
Thomas (18-3, 9 KO’s) is a veteran of 21 fights. The Jamaican native has faced the tougher competition of the two, facing and losing to heavyweight prospect Dominic Breazeale inside of four rounds. At 6’1 and nearly 250 lbs, Thomas, known as “TNT,” is a chiseled specimen who once trained with world-renowned trainer, Dan Birmingham.
Estrada vs Thomas is a competitive bout featuring two experienced veterans trying to resurrect their once promising careers.
“I just believe in myself and my faith. I watched some videos of Estrada, and he comes to fight. He brings the fight. It will be a good fight, and I will be victorious,” states Thomas.
There will likely be some blood spilled on the canvas and some big knockouts as these eight big men prepare to ascend to the top of the Boxcino mountain. There is no turning back now (hopefully).