By: William Holmes
ESPN’s decision to air tournaments in the middleweight and lightweight divisions has so far been met with mainly positive praise from the boxing community since it gives potential title challengers a national platform to showcase their talents and it showcases boxers with good records that have yet to receive widespread press.
The quarterfinals of the lightweight tournament started last week and it featured several highly entertaining bouts. Tonight showcased the quarterfinals of the middleweight tournament from the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Indiana.
The first six round quarterfinal bout was between Daniel Edouard (23-4-2) and Brandon Adams (12-0). Adams had the fewest pro fights in the Boxcino tournament but also had five straight wins via knockout. Edouard has not fought since January 13, 2011.
Both fighters fought out of an orthodox stance and Adams connected early with a straight right hand and a stiff jab. Edouard connected in the first round with a good body head combination and kept the first round close. Adams however began to take over in the second round.
Adams began to land his left hook in the second and also started to attack the body of Edouard. At one point Edouard had to hold on in the second and it was clear that Adams had the speed and power advantage.
Edouard went down in the fourth round from a clean left hook. He was able to get back to his feet and Adams went right back to his body attack on the tired and fading Edouard. Edouard was able to survive the round, but he did not come out for the fifth round. Brandon Adams win by TKO at the end of the fourth round.
The next bout of the night was between Raymond Gatica (13-2) and Sena Agbeko (15-0). Gatica has gone 2-2 in his last four bouts while Agbeko had all of his fights in his native country of Ghana. Unfortunately for Agbeko, the competition in Ghana pales in comparison to the United States.
Gatica was a southpaw and Agbeko was visibly significantly taller than his opponent. Both boxers came out swinging in the first round, but it was also obvious that both boxers were lacking in technique. Agbeko didn’t turn over his punches but did land enough in the first round to bloody the nose of Gatica.
Gatica started to land his hooks in the second round, but also had a potential knockdown ruled a slip. Agbeko was able to land a few straight right hands, but most of his punches were arm punches and did not do a lot of damage.
Agbeko showed signs of fatigue in the third round and Gatica took advantage of it. He landed some hard left hand shots on Agbeko and had him moving backwards into the corner. Agbeko looked exhausted by the end of the round and took a beating in the third.
Gatica opened up quickly in the fourth round and pounded Agbeko to the body and head. Agbeko was not offering up much in defense and was warned repeatedly by the referee to show something. Agbeko did not and the referee rightly stopped the bout at 1:06 of the fourth round.
The next bout of the night was between Cerresso Fort (17-2) and Vitalii Kopylenko (22-0). Fort was 3-2 in his last five fights while Kopylenko was making his U.S. debut.
Kopylenko showed immediately that he had good and refined technique and hurt Fort early in the first round with a jab. Fort was visibly bothered by the stiff jab of Kopylenko and spent most of the first round on wobbly legs.
Kopylenko came right out in the second round and knocked Fort down immediately with a stiff jab. Fort was able to get back to his feet but was knocked back down by a two punch combination from Kopylenko. Fort got back to his feet again, but was wobbly when he was asked by the referee to walk forward. The fight was wisely waived off at 0:43 of the second round.
The final bout of the night was between Donatas Bondorovas (18-4) and Willie Monroe Jr. (15-1). Bondorovas was one of the older boxers in the tournament at the age of 34 and Willie Monroe Jr. is the son of former professional boxer Willie Monroe Sr.
Monroe was a southpaw and stayed on the outside jabbing and moving away from the power of Bondorovas. Bondorovas switched from orthodox to southpaw and was the aggressor for most of the fight, but he was not very effective with his aggression.
Monroe punctuated the second round with a head snapping straight left hand, and Bondorovas was first warned by the referee for holding in the third round. Monroe had a good two punch combination in the fourth round but was also tagged by Bondorovas with a straight right hand in the fourth.
Bondorovas landed three consecutive low blows in the fifth round and was warned by the referee again for hitting after the break. Monroe appeared to be out boxing Bondorovas by the start of the sixth round he boxed like he was ahead. The most compelling action in the sixth round came when Bondorovas pulled his own tooth out during the middle of the round.
Willie Monroe Jr. won the decision with scores of 58-56, 59-55, and 59-55.