by Fox Doucette
From Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona, New York, ESPN2 presents the quarterfinal round of Boxcino for the heavyweight division, four six-round fights for your viewing pleasure on Friday Night Fights. While none of these guys involved are going to be beating Wladimir Klitschko any time soon, there is some history between a few of these guys, and much like their junior middleweight counterparts, there is a lot of sense that we’re witnessing the great unknown here.
Your bout sheet quickly lays bare that there are no Brandon Adams-esque early favorites, nor are there any Stanyslav Skorokhod-level promising knockout artists. Donovan Dennis (10-1, 8 KOs) takes on Steve Vukosa (10-0, 4 KOs). Razvan Cojanu (12-1, 7 KOs) gets Ed Fountain (10-0, 4 KOs). Andrey Fedosov (25-3, 20 KOs), who is Russian and thus can be considered Klitschko Lite in addition to being the most experienced in terms of quality of opposition, gets Nat Heaven (9-1, 7 KOs), who is coming off a knockout loss. Finally, Jason Estrada (20-5, 6 KOs), who has fought (and lost to) Tomasz Adamek and Alexander Povetkin, does battle with Lenroy Thomas (18-3, 9 KOs).
It’s very hard to draw a bead on these guys, since they’ve either yet to graduate off the hobo circuit or else they’ve moved up but never been able to get over the mountain, leaving them fighting to re-establish their name on basic cable rather than commanding Next Big Thing status in a division that needs Americans to become as popular as it once was in days of yore.
Andrey Fedosov is the guy with the “biggest” signature win, a second-round KO of Maurice Harris (who has been knocked out twelve times and who is a shell of the man who was talked about as a contender in the making way back in 2011 in Reno when Tony Thompson starched him on ESPN2) that isn’t the cap feather it might have been years prior.
Jason Estrada is the guy with the “fought the best competition, but lost to them” tag. He may have lost to Adamek and Povetkin, but he went the distance both times—anyone who can stand up to Povetkin’s best shot has a good set of whiskers on him. His opponent, Lenroy Thomas, has been stopped twice and doesn’t look like much for the level of competition he’s fought, making him a severe underdog.
The Cojanu-Fountain fight, for its part, is a wild card insofar as neither guy has fought anyone of note, which means that for each man, the biggest step up they’ve taken in their careers is each other; that always makes for unpredictable competition in the ring, but it also makes it impossible to draw a bead on who has the advantage. Stay tuned; that might be the fight of the night for how evenly matched it is.
Steve Vukosa is the most interesting unbeaten between the two guys in this event with an O in the loss column; last July, he beat the just-mentioned Jason Estrada. Mind you, he’s otherwise never fought anyone who can even plausibly be called a prospect; his remaining nine wins are over club fighters.
Speaking of guys with history, Donovan Dennis, Vukosa’s first-round opponent, has fought and lost to Nat Heaven, who is in there against Fedosov as what might just be a sacrificial lamb. Heaven starched Dennis in just one round last April, and represents the only thing that even counts as the beginning of a step up in class on Donovan Dennis’ resume.
If you’re seeing a theme here, you should; with the exceptions of Fedosov and Estrada, who both own the powerful advantage of being actual battle-tested fighters instead of raw, green prospects, this is not a card where predictions are of much use. Fedosov and Estrada should play the Skorokhod/Adams role this week, but everything else is wide open.
Of course, wide open makes for great fights. It will be well worth tuning in for this collection of six-rounders as the tournament begins to take shape.
Friday Night Fights airs on February 20 at 9 PM Eastern/6 PM Pacific. The Boxing Tribune will have a full recap of the night’s televised action shortly 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.