By Eric Duran
Live from the Mohegan Sun Resort in Uncasville, Connecticut tonight, ESPN-2’s Friday Night Fights kicked off the 2015 ESPN Boxcino Jr. Middleweight tournament on Friday the 13th.
Announcer Joe Tessitore and analyst Teddy Atlas–who worked a pre-Valentines Day metaphor to the max all night–manned the head sets, and called the action live from ringside.
In the opening bout of the night, Ukraine’s Stanyslav Skorohod destroyed Michael Moore inside of four rounds. In the second bout of the evening, John Thompson IV stepped in on a day’s notice and decisioned Ricardo Pinell. In the third bout of the night, Vito Gasparyan defeated Simeon Hardy over six, mostly uneventful rounds. Finally, Brandon Adams finished the first round of the tournament in explosive fashion with a stoppage of Alex Perez.
Fight #1: Skorohod vs. Moore
Stanyslav “Nuclear Ghost” Skorohod sent a message to the rest of the participants, demolishing Michael “The Silverback” Moore. Skorohod gave Cleveland’s Moore a vicious beating in four one-sided rounds. The “Silverback” was no match for the Ukrainian, whose father still works at the Chernobyl site, hence the son’s nickname.
Skorohod comes out in round one behind a tight defense, keeping the smaller Moore at bay with a strong jab. Both fighters are looking to land their money punch as Moore scores a straight left hand on the inside. Skorohod is countering Moore to end the round.
Skorohod catches Moore with a left hook in the opening moments of round two. The “Nuclear Ghost” is starting to walk Moore down in the second round, imposing his will. Skorohod hurts Moore with a straight right hand along the ropes, and Moore legs are starting to become wobbly. Moore is hurt again with a left hook from Skorohod. A dominating round for Skorohod.
A counter right hand from Skorohod drops Moore in the opening minute of round three. Skorohod is in stalk mode, trying to finish the fight. Moore is in trouble as the focused Skorohod is trying to decapitate him with every punch. To his credit, the game Moore offers something of a counter-attack, catching Skorohod with a couple of shots toward the end of round three.
Skorohod is on the verge of stopping Moore in round four, dropping him with a straight right hand. Moore beats the count but following a straight right hand moments later, referee Michael Ortega steps in to call a halt to the action at 1:03 of the round.
Skorohod improves to 9-0 with 7 KOs, while Moore drops to 13-1. The Ukrainian will face John Thompson in the Boxcino Jr. Middleweight semifinals.
Fight # 2: Pinell vs Thompson
John Thompson IV, stepping in for Cleotis Pendarvis, who failed to make weight in time to qualify for the tournament, pulls the minor upset, schooling Ricardo Pinell on a day’s notice. Pinell is not “Primetime.”
Slow start to round one as the boo birds ring from the rafters of the Mohegan. Thompson uses his length to keep Pinell on the outside. Pinell catches Thompson with a left hook on the inside.
The fighters are trading punches to open round two. Good action from both fighters, Thompson from the outside, Pinell on the inside. Thompson opens up with a 7-8 punch combination, gaining confidence as the round continues. Pinell traps Thompson in the corner and opens up on Thompson. Close, competitive round.
Thompson unloading combinations but Pinell catches him with a counter left hook to open round 3. Not much action to speak of for the remaining 2 and a half minutes.
The action has slowed in round four. Pinell is stalking, looking in vain to land one big shot. Thompson is boxing from the outside. The action finally picks up in the final minute of the round.
Pinell’s game plan–or lack of one–is costing him this fight, as Thompson is basically dancing around and out-working him as a laconic Pinell walks in without throwing punches. A counter right from Thompson snaps the head of Pinell to end round five.
Thompson is basically pot-shotting Pinell from the outside. Going into the final round, Pinell obviously needs a knockout to win this fight. But Thompson’s reflexes are just too fast for Pinell tonight, and the round ends up a replay of the previous five. We go to the scorecards.
All three judges score it the same way, 60-54 for Thompson, who improves to 15-1 with 5 KOs, while Pinell drops to 10-2-1 with 6 KOs.
Fight #3: Gasparyan Vs. Hardy
Vito Gasparyan resurrects his career as he overcomes a shaky start to defeat Simeon Hardy over six rounds. It was a mostly uneventful fight, as Hardy proved to be too “green” for the more experienced Gasparyan.
Gasparyan looks rusty after a two-year layoff. Hardy is initially the more active of the two fighters, utilizing a stiff jab from the outside. Round one proves to be a slow, methodical, “feeling out” round.
A lot of wrestling and tussling on the inside starts round two. Hardy begins to work the body, bullying and pushing Gasparyan around on the inside.
More holding and tugging marks the start of round three. Not much in the way of power shots being thrown, not much action either. Gasparyan, however, steps on the gas pedal to end round three and seems to be shaking off the inevitable ring rust after so long out of the squared circle.
Hardy seems to have lost some steam in round four and Gasparyan is quick to take advantage of it, now walking forward and beating up Hardy. Gasparyan’s potent lead left hook punctuates round four.
Gasparyan has shaken off the rust and is now taking over the fight. Another solid round for Gasparyan in round five as he scores with a big right hand.
Hardy tries to salvage the last round and earn a possible draw with renewed aggression. A short right hand on the inside for Gasparyan. Gasparyan closes the round in strong fashion, earning him the round in my books.
The judges score it 58-56, 60-54, and 59-55 for Vito Gasparyan, who improves to 15-3-5 with 8 KOs, while Hardy experiences his first loss, dropping to 13-1 with 10 KOs.
Fight #4: Adams Vs. Perez
Brandon Adams is the Alpha Male in the opening round of the tournament, drilling Alex Perez in the evening’s main event.
Adams opens with a stinging left hook to open up round one. The bigger Adams is looking to make a statement here, loading up on his punches. Perez fights back, but Adams appears to be too strong for him, as he punishes Perez with body shots.
In the second stanza, Adams continues banging away, catching Perez with a left hook on the inside, breaking his opponent down with thunderous body shots, who is too often trapped on the ropes. Perez is visibly fading and losing steam on his punches.
In round three, Adams catches Perez with a counter right hand. Adams drops his hands and takes two unanswered shots from Perez, screaming at him to bring it. A phone booth battle has now broken out.
A game Perez is still trying to win in round four, not giving up or in to Adams. Adams, however, catches Perez with a big right hand and hurts him, leaving his opponent on shaky legs. Adams is landing chopping right hands along the ropes. Another solid round for Adams.
Adams is ripping body shots onto Perez in round five. Perez is all but finished as Adams is just too powerful. Adams now is stalking his man, looking for one big shot, and finally drills Perez, sending him crashing to the canvas with a straight right hand. The stoppage from referee Harvey Dock comes at 2:47 of the round.
Adams improves to 16-1 (11 KOs), while Perez drops to 18-2 (10 KOs).
Brandon Adams will now face Vito Gasparyan in the second Boxcino Jr. Middleweight semifinal.
The kickoff to Boxcino 2015 was entertaining overall, as Adams and Skorohod both were very explosive and powerful, and seemingly headed for a confrontation in the final.
The semi-finals will take place on April 2 at a site to be determined.