Two stoppages, a quit, and a debatable decision. That’s how the opening round of ESPN’s Boxcino middleweight tournament ended up Friday. It was an uneven night full of uneven performances from the Horshoe Casino in Hammond, Ind., compared to the lightweight tournament’s inaugural round.
In the opening bout, Daniel Edouard (23-5-2, 14 KOs) quit on his stool after the 4th round of a seemingly winnable fight against Brandon Adams. Adams (13-0, 9 KOs) was making a huge step up, in that Edouard was the first fighter he had faced with anything remotely close to a winning record. Edouard, who had not fought in three years, looked the part for about half a round. By the beginning of the 2nd he was not engaging and couldn’t seem to get his punches off. Adams did not impress, but he did get the win.
Ray Gatica won a wild swinging bout by stopping Sena Agbeko in the second fight of the night. Agbeko (15-1, 15 KOs) came in with a glossy record built entirely in his native Ghana. The gloss faded very quickly as Gatica (14-2, 9 KOs) of Austin, Texas consistently landed the harder, cleaner shots. The 3rd round was one sided-enough to be scored 10-8 on my card and by the 4th, Agbeko was a sitting duck.
The Gatica-Adams matchup in the semifinals should be interesting. Neither man is technically sound but I favor Adams’ straighter punches. Don’t count on either man missing very much.
The performance of the night belonged to Vitaliy Kopalenko, who stopped Cerresso Fort in the 2nd round of a one-sided fight. Kopalenko (23-0, 13 KOs) was making his American debut and did not disappoint. He battered Fort (17-3-1, 11 KOs) from the opening bell with laser guided jabs and excellent combinations. The 30-year-old Ukrainian showed solid foot work and tight technique to go along with his surprising power.
Kopalenko will meet Willie Monroe, Jr. in their semi final match. Monroe (16-1, 6 KOs) beat Donatas Bondorovas by scores of 58-56, and 59-55 (twice). I had it scored 58-56 for Bondorovas (18-5-1, 6 KOs) but it was a close bout and difficult to score; however, the 59-55 cards were too wide. There was very little to separate the two fighters. Bondorovas’ aggression was largely ineffective, and Monroe’s counterpunching did almost nothing to discourage his foe.
I had difficulty finding footage of the fighters involved in the tournament, so I put off making any picks until I had seen them fight. At this point, Kopalenko is clearly established as the favorite. I don’t see Monroe giving him much trouble in the semis, and if Adams gets by Gatica, as I expect he will, he does not possess the tools to deal with Kopalenko’s range, timing, movement and accuracy in the finals.
Rabies Watch: Another subdued performance from Teddy Atlas, though we were treated to him singing at the opening of the show. It was… special.