For a tournament of mostly unknowns, you couldn't ask for much better entertainment value than what the men in ESPN2's Boxcino 2014 tournament gave us on Friday Night Fights. The entertainment value was derived from the format, which featured six round bouts to start, and/or the nature of the fighters themselves: They all had plenty to prove if they wanted to claw their way out of obscurity, they had little time to prove it and fought like they understood all of that.
Three of the four bouts were dramatic throughout, and the fourth was dramatic in its final round. You'll take a success ratio like that for any televised fight card.
In the opener, Chris Rudd took an upset decision over a favorite to win the lightweight wing of the two-tiered tournament, Yakabu Amidu, who had nearly upset 130-pound contender Juan Carlos Burgos not long ago. And they had to go to the tiebreaker rule, a 7th round, to decide it. They started with reversed roles — the shorter Amidu leaping in, the taller Rudd connecting better up close. Each round got progressively more heated and moved closer to form as it went on, culminating in an action-packed 4th where Rudd appeared to gas a little. I scored the first six rounds 5-1 for Amidu, but most of the rounds were close. Fortunately for Rudd, the 7th was not: He kept Amidu at a distance and boxed with discipline to take it easily.
The next bout featured a meeting of power-punching Russians, Petr Petrov and Fedor Papazov, both of whom quickly established that Rudd would have his hands full in the next round of the tournament. Petrov was the crisper puncher and the more experienced fighter, only losing points with fans for his creepy back, which featured dragon-like spinal ridges and bulbous back muscles. The two traded punches and bloodied various parts of each other's faces, Petrov somehow getting gashed on the back of his head and Papazov on his nose. Petrov finished stronger and took the deserved unanimous decision. Petrov is guaranteed to reappear on ESPN2, thankfully. ESPN2 should find an occasion to bring Papazov back, too. As Mexican fighters long have, Russian and former Soviet country fighters are turning into reliable showmen in the boxing ring.
The sleepiest bout of the evening featured two Miguels, Gonzalez and Mendoza, battling to a split decision that Gonzalez took. It wasn't an easy fight to score, same as Rudd-Amidu, and I had it a draw. Gonzalez won the rounds where he moved and boxed from distance. Mendoza won the rounds where he got in close and uppercutted Gonzalez like he was bouncing in those Cleveland potholes he complained about in the pre-fight feature. Mendoza fought with the requisite urgency in the 6th, but it wasn't enough to win over two of the judges.
Along with Petrov, Fernando Carcamo made the biggest impression out of the night's contestants, stopping Samuel Kotey Neequaye in the 2nd round. He scored a cheap but legitimate knockdown in the 1st against an off-balance Neequaye thanks to a glancing left hand to the body, but did real damage in the 2nd, hurting him with a right and keeping him hurt. Carcamo got his noodle-legged foe on the ropes and caught him with a left hand on the top of the head that basically ended it, as the referee stepped in while Neequaye stumbled to the ground.
Good show. Here's hoping we get Petrov-Carcamo. We might not have to wish too hard, based on their opening round showings.