By Eric Duran
With ESPN’s Friday Night Fights now back on the air, is it time to kick off the 2015 Boxcino Tournament. In 2014, lightweight Petr Petrov and middleweight Willie Monroe Jr. were the respective winners in their divisions.
On this Friday, Feb 13, eight fighters from the Jr. Middleweight division will step foot into the squared circle at the Mohegan Sun Resort in Uncasville, Connecticut.
The participants include Cleotis Pendarvis, Ricardo Pinell, Vito Gasparyan, Simeon Hardy, Stanyslav Skorohod, Michael Moore, Brandon Adams and Alex Perez.
Brandon Adams, (15-1, 9 KOs) of Los Angeles, CA faces off against Alex Perez (18-1, 10 KOs) of Newark, NJ.
This is far the most anticipated matchup of the first round. Adams competed in the 2014 Boxcino tournament, losing to Willie Monroe Jr. in the finals of the Middleweight bracket. Adams was a virtual unknown heading into the tournament. After dispatching veteran Daniel Edouard in the first round, FNF analyst Teddy Atlas became a fan. Adams always has an equalizer with a lethal straight right. Perez is no slouch, however, having beaten one time promising prospect, Francisco Figueroa.
Perez, however, couldn’t make that jump to the next level, losing to French-Canadian Antonin Decarie on HBO in 2012. Adams is the perceived favorite to win it all, and this may be Perez’s last chance to resurrect his career.
Stanyslav Skorohod (8-0, 6 KOs) of Slavutich, Ukraine, faces off against Michael Moore (13-0, 6 KOs) of Cleveland, Ohio.
Skorohod may be the dark horse of the tournament. With yet another Eastern European prospect, could we be viewing the next Gennady Golovkin? From the watchful eye of Freddie Roach at the Wild Card gym, Skorohod will now have the eyes of national viewers bestowed upon him.
Moore has faced relative soft opposition in his short career, winning a majority decision against journeyman, Michael “Midnight Stalker” Walker. I have a feeling Skorohod walks away leaving fans yearning for more.
Vito Gasparyan (14-3-5, 8 KOs), of Glendale, Ca via Yerevan, Armenia, faces off against Simeon Hardy (13-0, 10 KOs) of Brooklyn, NY via Guyana.
Gasparyan returns after a 2-year layoff following a loss to current WBA Jr. Welterweight, Jessie Vargas.
A loss for Gasparyan pretty much ends his career as far as earning power goes, and he’ll become an “opponent” or “gatekeeper.” Hardy, who owns two victories over fringe contender Howard Eastman, needs a win and needs to look impressive. A loss to Gasparyan would slow the momentum of his young career.
Cleotis Pendarvis, (17-4-2, 6 KOs) of Los Angeles, CA, will face Ricardo Pinell, (10-1-1, 6 KOs) of San Francisco, CA.
Pendarvis is a veteran of the trade, skilled with cat-like reflexes, who has been silent of late. His last outing was a 4th-round TKO loss to Montreal’s Dierry Jean way back in 2013. Before that, Pendarvis had rung up six straight wins. The less experienced Pinell comes into the ring on a five-fight win streak, the latest being a six-round UD over Rahman Mustafa Yusubov.
Check back with us next week for a preview of the FNF Boxcino Heavyweight bracket.