by Fox Doucette
Live from the Mohegan Sun casino in Uncasville, CT, the junior middleweights get their turn as the Boxcino tournament on Friday Night Fights pits up-and-coming fighters against each other to crown a new star contender in an already very deep 154-pound division. No main events (unless you count the favorite getting a good test), no co-features as such, just short fights in volume.
The “main event”, if you can call it that, pits Brandon Adams (15-1. 10 KOs) up against Alex Perez (18-1, 10 KOs). Adams, last seen on FNF on January 16 of this year beating up Lekan Byfield in a two-round TKO victory, came up just short at 160 pounds in last year’s Boxcino middleweight throwdown, losing the grand final to Willie Monroe Jr.
Still, Adams acquitted himself well; he graduated off the hobo circuit and the FNF spotlight didn’t stop him or even slow him down. His loss at the end was to a worthy opponent; even though Monroe outpointed Adams easily (99-91 on every card), a star was born.
Perez is a bit more seasoned if a bit less active; since losing to Antonin Decarie by knockout in his only pro loss in 2012, Perez has taken on a couple of solid prospects and handed them their lunch. In his last fight, Perez knocked out Jeremiah Wiggins, who came into the fight 10-2-1, but he is green as the forest and a much naturally smaller man than Adams; Perez has fought most of his career at welterweight while Adams made his name at middleweight.
Elsewhere, Cleotis Pendarvis (17-4-2, 6 KOs) takes on Ricardo Penell (10-1-1, 6 KOs) in what looks to be a question of whether experience is a factor in a fight even if the experience has mainly consisted of losing when stepping up in class. Pendarvis has been whupped by some good fighters; his rap sheet, apart from a loss when coming through the club circuit, involves Mauricio Herrera, Terrence Cauthen, and Diery Jean. He has not fought since 2013; it’ll be interesting to see if there’s ring rust there.
Penell, for his part, is another green one. His lone loss was by knockout to a 2-1 fighter, and he’s still not fought off the hobo circuit. In most cases, this is up-and-comer vs. gatekeeper, but there are too many wild cards to draw a bead on what’s likely to happen—which means an unpredictable and potentially entertaining matchup.
Next, Stanyslav Sokhorod (8-0, 6 KOs) takes on Michael Moore (13-0, 6 KOs). Both of these guys offer the same profile; they’ve yet to face serious opposition, but they’ve plowed through the strip club bouncers, nobodies, and club fighters thrown their way. Something has to give, but neither fighter has proven a single thing that would let you point at them and say “this guy’s got the edge.” Kudos to the matchmakers. The entire boxing world, not just the casual FNF fan, gets to say hello to something new in this fight. For the loser? A trip back to Palookaville for more seasoning.
Finally, you’ve got a bit of mix and match, as Vito Gasparyan (14-3-5, 8 KOs, and no, five draws isn’t a misprint) fights for the first time since losing to Jessie Vargas way back in 2012. He has beaten the tomato cans and lost or drawn with the legitimate fighters; he’s like a less-accomplished Cleotis Pendarvis in this scenario and plays the clear underdog.
Gasparyan’s opponent is Simeon Hardy (13-0, 10 KOs), who is, you guessed it, completely untested. He’s graduating off of the Nowhere Express, trading in the sorts of no-hopers who quite possibly lost to Homer Simpson at some point in their careers for a chance to fight guys who know how to fight. Will he pull a Kendal Mena (he of that KO loss in this year’s FNF opening night despite the unbeaten record against hobos)? Or are those 10 KOs a sign of show-ending power that could lead to the Punch of the Night? And what of Gasparyan’s ring rust?
These are great matchups. Even that last fight, which instinct would normally dictate is “prospect vs. guy they dug out of a grave” to go by the records and the history, is more than it at first appears. Boxcino was a big success for ESPN2 last year; it looks very promising as an entertaining event this year. Your columnist’s hopes of prognostication are pretty well foiled by the question marks at hand here, but Brandon Adams has to be considered the favorite to win this whole thing.
Friday Night Fights airs on February 13 at 9 PM Eastern/6 PM Pacific. The Boxing Tribune will have a full recap of the night’s televised action following the conclusion of the broadcast. Stay tuned—we’re the worldwide leader in covering the Worldwide Leader.
Fox Doucette covers Friday Night Fights for The Boxing Tribune and writes the weekly What If alternate-history series for this publication. His opinion column, The Southpaw, appears on Thursdays. Fan mail, hate mail, and the case for your fighter if you’re in the camp of any of these guys can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.