On Friday, the finals of ESPN's Boxcino 2014 Tournament will take place at the Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona, N. Y. Are you going? In the resort’s enticing advertisement they claim to have “luxurious accommodations, fine cuisine, impeccable service” and if they keep it up, they can add “great boxing shows” to their resume because Friday’s show should be an excellent one.
And while you’re making plans, take note, Verona, N. Y., being in the center of the state, is just an hour and fifteen minutes from Cooperstown where you can visit Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame. Then, if you can stay another week, you head back up to Canastota where on June 5th thru the 8th, they’ll be holding the induction ceremonies for the 2014 Class of the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Among this year’s inductees you have Joe Calzaghe, the “Golden Boy” Oscar De La Hoya, Felix “Tito” Trinidad and Richard Steele. That week long celebration will hit it's peak from June 5 thru June 8.
Back on February 28th, the organizers of this tournament, ESPN and Banner Promotions, kicked off the festivities with 16 of the best, perhaps hungriest, boxers in both the lightweight and middleweight divisions. Then, they whittled them down to just four. At this point, the tournament finals, promoted by Banner Promotions and broadcast live on ESPN 2, ESPN Deportes and WatchESPN, will air live, this Friday, May 23, 2014 at 9 p.m. ET, 6 p.m. PCT.
The lightweight finals feature the Russian Petr “Zar” Petrov who resides in Madrid, Spain (34-4-2, 16 KOs) taking on 23 year-old Fernando “El Guerrero Yaqui” Carcamo (17-5-0, 13 KOs) of Ciudad Obregon, Sonora, Mexico while middleweight Brandon Adams (14-0-0, 9 KOs), a home boy from Southern California and managed by San Diego’s Bobby DePhilippis, will square off against Willie Monroe Jr. (17-1-0, 6 KOs) of Ithaca, N. Y. which is only an hour and a half drive from Verona.
Each boxer has won two fights and because of their willingness to step up and fight the top competitors in their division, the World Boxing Association then recognized each in their WBA world rankings. Adams is now ranked #6 while Monroe Jr. is slotted at #14??
Why the big difference in the Adams versus Monroe World Rankings? You got to figure this must be some sort of ploy to get Monroe motivated? If you check out their strength of schedules, you’ll notice Monroe has faced the tougher opponents. His one major slip up was that split decision loss to Darnell Boone in March of 2011. And yet, if you consider Boone's background, Boone TKO'd Adonis Stevenson in two, plus he's the only boxer who ever knocked Andre Ward off his feet.
Back on February 28, 2014, the 24 year-old Adams defeated Daniel Edouard (23-4-2). That fourth round stoppage completed his first hurdle in the tournament. Then, on April 18, 2014, Adams faced an even tougher opponent, Raymond Gatica, (14-2) and won by a split decision.
To get to this point, Monroe Jr. had to first defeat the brawler Donatas “Bondas” Bondorovas (18-4-1) of Chicago, Illinois by way of Lithuania plus the tournament favorite, Vitaliy Kopylenko (23-0) from Kiev, Ukraine.
On Friday, Adams, a righty, with just four years of pro experience, will face Monroe, a 27 year-old southpaw, who has seven years experience. And it just so happens that Monroe Jr. is the son of Willie “the Body Rock” Monroe of Rochester, N. Y. and great-nephew of the legendary Willie “The Worm” Monroe of Philadelphia who faced guys like Marvin Hagler, Eugene “Cyclone” Hart, David Love and Bobby “Boogaloo” Watts.
A fretful worrywart might ask: “Is this too tall a mountain for Adams to climb?”
How much weight should we place on the following: 1) the difference in their experience - as an Amateur, Monroe had a record of 128-14 and won gold at the Empire Games and in the N. Y. Golden Gloves tournament. Adams had very little Amateur experience. 2) the fact Monroe hails from Ithaca, N. Y. which is only an hour and twenty minutes away, he should have a large fan base cheering for him, 3) that long lineage of boxing greats in Monroe’s family, 4) the above average coaching Monroe received - inspired by the likes of Eddie Futch, George Benton and Yank Durham and now he has Danny Akers in his corner, 5) Monroe might also enjoy a hometown advantage from judges like Don Ackerman, Eric Marlinski and Tom Schreck. They know Monroe and they’ve judged many of his fights.
On the other half of this Boxcino 2014 tournament fight card you have the lightweights with Carcamo who is now ranked #11 by the WBA while Petrov is ranked #12.
Today’s statement issued by Banner Promotions president Arthur Pelullo: "This is exactly what we envisioned when we put Boxcino 2014 together. Fighters fighting other top fighters and then rewarded in the rankings that will facilitate their careers into title opportunities and thus big fights. I want to thank everyone at ESPN for having the same vision and helping us to put this tournament together."
Postscript: Thursday morning, May 22, 2014, word came the four remaining boxers will not only be competing for the Boxcino Championship belt, the two sanctioning bodies, the WBO and WBA, have now added two additional belts. The competitors will also be fighting for the North American Middleweight and Lightweight, NABA and NABO belts.