The quarterfinals of the Friday Night Fights Boxcino middleweight tournament ended with one fighter emerging as the favorite to win it all.
Ukraine's Vitaliy Kopylenko, a hard punching, technically sound fighter, looks to be the frontrunner to advance to the finals of, and win, ESPN's Boxcino middleweight tournament, Friday, February 28, 2014. He easily defeated American Cerresso Fort via second round TKO. Kopylenko started the second round with a hard left jab that sent Fort to the canvas. Fort never recovered and the referee had to stop the contest.
Kopylenko, fighting in the U.S. for the first time, hurt Fort midway through the first round with the same stiff left jab. ESPN analyst Teddy Atlas was heard saying during the broadcast that Kopylenko's jab is "a power punch." Teddy couldn't have been closer to the truth. Kopylenko's power jab propelled him into the semifinals of the tournament, where he will face Willie Monroe, Jr. next.
Brandon Adams def Daniel Edourd
Watts, CA native Brandon Adams, Kopylenko's projected counterpart in this tournament, took three rounds before he began to pick apart Haitian born Daniel Edourd. Adams, nine years Edourd's junior, was very tentative about attacking the older fighter until late in the third round when he started delivering heavy blows to the body more consistently. Those body blows carried over into the fourth round and led Adams to connect a perfectly timed left hook that sent Edourd down. With Edourd in trouble, Adams was not able to finish him off before the end of the fourth. However, Edourd was unable to answer the bell for the start of the fifth round.
Willie Monroe, Jr. def Donatas Bondas
This fight could've gone either way. Monroe controlled the outside, boxing with a large degree of skill. Bondas was more of the aggressor, charging and landing on Monroe, but not landing anything significant that would hurt Monroe. This writer scored the fight even and would've hope to see a seventh round draw-breaker. The judges saw it differently, scoring a unanimous decision for Monroe, 59-55, 59-55 and 58-56.
Raymond Gatica def Sena Agbeko
Like Kopylenko, Sena Agbeko was fighting in the U.S. for the first time; however, the result was drastically different. In a sloppy contest between two fighters displaying very little technical skill, Gatica was able to take control of the fight against an obviously tired Agbeko early in the third round. Agbeko entered the tournament 15-0 with 15 KO's. It was apparent what his previous level of competition was early on in this contest. His wild arm punches had very little effect on Gatica. Gatica was able to land unobstructed through rounds three and four, earning the fourth round TKO.
To anyone watching this card, the emerging favorites to win this tournament are Vitaliy Kopylenko and Brandon Adams. Willie Monroe, Jr. is a technically sound fighter, but he doesn't let his hands go enough to win against Kopylenko, his next opponent. And Raymond Gatica didn't show enough boxing skill to defeat Adams. Unless Adams takes a night off, he should easily get the nod over Gatica.
The semifinal round kicks off Friday, April 18, 2014 live on ESPN.