In the sport of boxing, sometimes all that’s needed is that one shot, a chance to catapult your career to the next level. The Boxcino tournament gives up and coming/next-gen fighters that type of opportunity.
Look no further than last year’s 2014 Boxcino tournament champions, Willie Monroe Jr. (middleweight tournament champion) and Petr Petrov (lightweight tournament champion). They both are rated in the top three of at least one governing body a direct result of winning their division in last year’s tourney.
A bracket style single elimination tournament which provides a platform for hungry fighters to jump start their career through world wide television exposure, ESPN in this case. The entire 2015 Boxcino tournament will be shown on ESPN Friday Night Fights. The match-ups are made through random drawings which has limited the participation of bigger names due to the unknown of the opponent. The fighters that do accept the challenge don’t care who they draw, they just want to fight and are willing to take the chance to ignite their career on a bigger stage that they may not get otherwise
Boxcino was created by Banner Promotions’ CEO Artie Pelullo in 1997 who sold the concept to ESPN2.
The 2015 Boxcino tournament actually kicked off last week with the junior middleweights but this week, it’s the heavyweights taking center stage. Eight fighters, four fights in this Friday’s quarterfinals from the Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, New York.
All quarterfinals are scheduled for six rounds; however, if they end in a draw, there will be a seventh round to determine the winner. If the fight is still a draw after seven, it will appear that way on both fighter’s records but social media will vote to determine who moves on.
The heavyweight semifinals will be on April 10 and will be scheduled for eight rounds with the ten round final on May 22. The junior middleweight final will also be on May 22.
Here are the quarterfinal matchups:
Donovan Dennis 10-1 (8 KO) vs. Steve Vukosa 10-0 (4KO)
Dennis, a 6’4 southpaw from Davenport, Iowa, fought four times in 2014 winning two by stoppage, one by decision in his last fight in August, and losing by first round TKO in April to fellow tournament contestant Nate Heaven. In the fight against Heaven, Dennis was winning the opening round but got caught with a big right hand with about ten seconds left in the round. Although Dennis made it to his feet, the referee felt that he couldn’t continue and stopped the fight.
Dennis may be the best pure boxer of the bunch and one of the quickest but he will need to ensure his guard is tight against the other bigs or he may fall victim to a similar fate as he did against Heaven.
Dennis appears ready, “Training camp is good. I had great sparring and am in good shape. I am ready and have been anxious for the last couple weeks. I am ready for whatever I have to do to win the fight.”
Massachusetts’ Vukosa, also a southpaw and one inch taller at 6’5, is know as “The Gentle Giant” and at 38 years of age is the oldest competitor. Vukosa started his career in 2001 and over the course of two years was 8-0 with four knockouts and even trained under Freddie Roach but a knee injury which required multiple surgeries and months of rehab caused the former National Golden Gloves champ to put his career on hold.
After a twelve year layoff spent mostly driving a bus in Boston, Vukosa came back last year and won two fight by decision. Most notably a July defeat of 2004 Olympian and late Boxcino entry Jason Estrada.
Vukosa is excited for the opportunity stating, “Training is going great. I have been getting extra work shoveling all the snow here in Massachusetts. I haven’t really checked much on Donovan Dennis. I am excited to get in the ring and am excited for this opportunity.”
Dennis- Pro since 2012, 27 rounds.
Vukosa- Pro Since 2001 (twelve year break), 37 rounds.
Razvan Cojanu 12-1 (7 KO) vs. Ed Fountain 10-0 (4 KO)
Cojanu, a 6’7 Romanian, lost the first fight of his career in 2011 and has not looked back winning twelve straight with seven stoppages, his last a TKO win in November of 2014.
Cojanu is the biggest man in the tourney and may be the toughest draw. He works under the tutelage of Buddy McGirt.
“Everything has been great. I am ready to go. I had top sparring and it went great. To be honest, I don’t know much about Ed Fountain other then he is a southpaw. That doesn’t matter to me as I just go in there and do my job.” said Cojanu
Fountain a Hawaiian born Missourian is a southpaw who had four fights in 2014 winning all, three by decision and one by stoppage.
This will be Fountain’s first fight out of Missouri but he is very confident coming in,
“Training camp is pretty good. I am the underdog, and I am going to have some fun. I hope he brings his best so I can prove myself. I know he is a veteran. I look forward to knocking him out and putting myself at the top of the tournament.” said Fountain.
Cojanu- Pro since 2011, 50 rounds.
Fountain- Pro Since 2012 , 39 rounds.
Andrey Fedesov 25-3 ( 20 KO ) vs. Nate Heaven 9-1 (7 KO)
Russian Andrey Fedesov has fought one time a year since 2011 with a notable loss coming in 2013 to Bryant Jennings. In the fight against Jennings, Fedesov did better than most thought he would, pressuring Jennings and taking solid shots while firing back and showing a serious beard. A cut caused vision problems for Fedesov and he was unable to continue.
At 6’1 Fedesov will give up five inches in this one but his plodding pressure style and his ability to take a punch will make things interesting.
Said Fedosov–“I am ready to my best in this tournament! I had a great camp.”
Floridian Nate Heaven has only fought two opponents with a winning record in his career, Fedesov will be his third. Heaven fought twice in 2014 winning by KO against Dennis, a fight he took on just under a week’s notice but in his last fight in July, he was stopped by a .500 fighter in the first round.
Will the real Nate Heaven please stand up? Heaven believes it will be the better version,
“Training is going great. I have had lots of sparring. I have been running, and I am in great condition mentally and physically. I just keep charging along. From what I have seen, he will try to put a lot of pressure. He is aggressive and likes to go to the body. We are just preparing for whatever he comes up with. Training has been so well that we just want to take this from training to the ring.” said Heaven.
This has all the makings of an all out brawl, don’t blink.
Fedesov- Pro since 2003, 103 rounds.
Heaven- Pro Since 2011 , 23 rounds.
Jason Estrada 20-5 (6 KO) vs. Lenroy Thomas 18-3 (9 KO)
***Mario Heredia 9-1 (7 KO) was slated to face Lenroy Thomas but due to an injury discovered in a pre-fight medical exam, he was replaced by Jason Estrada***
Underachieving 2004 US Olympian Jason “Big Six” Estrada of Providence, R.I. comes in as a late replacement and becomes one of the favorites due to his resume. Estrada has notable fights against Tomasz Adamek whom he lost a unanimous decision to in 2010 and Alexander Povetkin whom he also lost to by unanimous decision back in 2009.
Estrada’s last fight was in July of 2014 against fellow tournament contestant Vukosa whom he lost to by majority decision. Estrada took some criticism for the loss as Vukosa had not had a fight in twelve years.
Estrada is banking on his experience stating, “I am a late entry, but I have been in camp. I am in pretty good shape. This is such a good opportunity that I could not pass it up, and I am throwing my hat in the ring. I do not know much about my opponent. My dad did the research. I am just going in to fight my fight. From my amateur background, I have seen many styles. It is not hard because I have seen so many styles. I can adapt and may the best man win.”
Thomas is a Jamaican born Floridian and southpaw who fought twice in 2014, a decision win in March and a stoppage win in May. Thomas has a notable loss on his resume, a knockout loss to Dominic Breazeale in 2013.
“Training went well. I am disappointed by the change of opponents. I just believe in myself and my faith. I watched some videos of Estrada, and he comes to fight. He brings the fight. It will be a good fight, and I will be victorious.” said Thomas.
Estrada- Pro since 2004, 177 rounds.
Thomas- Pro Since 2006 , 78 rounds.
Forget March Madness, the sweet science has you covered in brackets for the next three months with both the junior middles and heavyweights. This heavyweight Boxcino tournament has plenty of intriguing matchups and oddly a slew of southpaws, usually a rarity when it comes to the bigs.
All contestants are getting their shot starting this Friday, it’s win or go home.
This article contributed to BTG.
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