Tonight, we say goodbye to a dear, old friend to the diehard boxing community, as ESPN Friday Night Fights will close up shop after just under 17 years on the air, with two Boxcino tournament title fights from California. Joe Tessitore and Teddy Atlas will have the call on ESPN2 at 9 pm EST, and Connor Ruebusch will be here with live coverage for the two fights.
Tonight's action will be a pair of 10-round fights in the heavyweight and junior middleweight division. The heavyweight tournament final will see Andrey Fedosov (27-3, 22 KO) take on Donovan Dennis (12-1, 10 KO). The junior middleweight final will pit Brandon Adams (17-1, 12 KO) against John Thompson (16-1, 5 KO).
With Premier Boxing Champions coming to ESPN in July, there is just no more room in this world for ESPN Friday Night Fights. The mom and pop promoters are being run out of the neighborhood by Wal-Mart Haymon, and boxing is going increasingly corporate. Come say farewell to this quaint institution.
Andrey Fedosov defeats Donovan Dennis by TKO (referee stoppage) at 0:54 of Round 8
Angel Martinez defeats Andres Figueroa by TKO (referee stoppage) at 1:09 of Round 5
John Thompson IV defeats Brandon Adams by TKO (referee stoppage) at 2:18 of Round 2
Isaac Zarate defeats Fernando Fuentes by Unanimous Decision (58-56 x 3)
ANDREY FEDOSOV vs DONOVAN DENNIS
Round 1: Dennis jabbing to the body early, and a lead left down the pipe scores for him early. Now he counters the jab of Fedosov with the same punch, doubling up on the left and landing both. Fedosov meets the next straight left with an overhand right and jus tmisses the mark. Dennis finds himself in the corner and resorts to some desperate blocking to stay safe and escape. Fedosov is doing a nice job of cutting off the ring so far, but not landing yet. Dennis doing a nice job of keeping his jab in Fedosov's face and occasionally popping in safe, uncommitted lefts behind it. 10-9 Dennis
Round 2: More sharp jabs from Dennis early, and a nice left to the body as he angles off. Fedosov lands a solid right to the body right after, and throws everything into a wild left hook that goes wide of the mark. There's a nice quick lead right from Fedosov, just like the ones Dennis has been landing. Dennis sitting down more on his punches now, though, and that should help to dissuade Fedosov's aggression. Dennis sneaks in a backstep right hook, but Fedosov counters over the top with a left hook of his own, and seems to think he's got Dennis hurt. He marches him into the ropes and slugs him to the body. Fedosov isn't setting anything up, but he's throwing nothing but KO punches. Good straight left from Dennis and there's the bell. 10-9 Dennis, 20-18
Round 3: Dennis comes forward to start this round, jabbing low and high and snaking the left hand through the gloves of Dennis. Fedosov lands the overhand right after, though, and Dennis goes down! Showing his grit, Dennis stands up, beats the count, and counters the headhunting Fedosov with two hard, clean punches. Fedosov is actually winning the rest of this round now, popping in that good southpaw jab and completely frustrating the offense of Fedosov, though some of these left hooks are frighteningly close. Great recovery and comeback from Dennis, who is definitely back in the fight. 10-9 Fedosov, 29-28 Dennis
Round 4: The replay showed that Dennis may have actually gone down due to Fedosov's thumb catching his open eye, rather than from the force of the punch. Now he's proving his worth by digging in with hard punches in the pocket, landing the short left before catching a Fedosov counter that convinces him to get back to long range. Fedosov cracks Dennis with a hard counter right hand and Dennis shouts at him. Fedosov comes in wild once again, but manages to avoid the counters from Dennis and lands with a forearm to Dennis' neck on the break. Fedosov trades a right hand to the body for a left hand to the cheek. Dennis cracks Fedosov with a clean left that seems to wobble him, but Fedosov takes only a momentary respite before moving forward once again. Very close round. 10-9 Dennis, 39-37
Round 5: Fedosov dips under Dennis' first straight left of the round with a short right to the body. Dennis coming forward aggressively now, catching Fedosov's gloves and barely avoiding the counters. Not a huge action fight so far, but you get the sense that either man could get put down at any moment. Tricky straight left for Dennis, and Fedosov is frozen at range just as he was in his last fight against Lenroy Thomas. Fedosov bangs the body coming forward and Dennis pivots away before stepping in with a counter left. Now it's Dennis leading and getting countered as Fedosov clips the point of his chin with a sweeping right hand. Left to the body from Dennis. Two very well-matched fighters here. Dennis slips a left hand inside the overhand of Fedosov, and that's his round. 10-9 Dennis, 49-46
Round 6: Nice body jab from Fedosov in the first thirty seconds, and a hard right to the ribs shortly after. Snapping lead left from Dennis, and they clinch. Dennis is still flicking the jab, Fedosov still looking to counter and then charge in the moment he feels a punch connect. Dennis very narrowly avoiding Fedosov's punches here, and he fails to avoid a big overhand right there. Dennis is badly hurt, and taking heavy leather with his back to the ropes. Left hooks and overhand rights from Fedosov! Dennis is staggered, but punching back now, jabbing and using his shoulder to push back on the inside. Good counter left from Dennis! Fedosov goes back to the body, and he seems to feel that the finish is no longer available. What recovery from Donovan Dennis, and what power from Andrey Fedosov. 10-8 Fedosov, 57-56 Dennis
Round 7: Dennis sneaking in straight punches, spins into the corner, and takes an awkward, thudding left hook from Fedosov as he moves toward center ring. Fedosov gets in with the short overhand right once again, this time as a counter to Dennis' jab, and he's hurt. They separate, Fedosov hammers him with short punches in close, and Dennis goes down! Fedosov misses with the lead overhand right back at range, gets in with a straight right immediately after. Dennis is once again showing off his immense recuperative abilities, but he's punching less and less as the fight goes on. 10-8 Fedosov, 66-65
Round 8: Fedosov swings wild with the left hook and Dennis actually rolls under it for the first time in the fight. They're back at range, and Fedosov counters a Dennis jab with a perfectly placed overhand right that puts Dennis down, and it does not look like he's getting back up. He stands, but the lights aren't on, and thank goodness we have a ref who is willing to stop it. Fedosov by KO!
ANGEL MARTINEZ vs ANDRES FIGUEROA
Round 1: Good jabs from Figueroa early, but the first clean punch is a hard left hook to the body from Martinez. And then an even harder one in return from FIgueroa. And now they're swinging away--that didn't take long. Figueroa attacking the body again, Figueroa jabbing him into the corner, waiting for him to lunge back, and meeting him with a picture perfect left hook. There's another left hook for Figueroa, set up off the jab, but Martinez backs him up and bangs him with an uppercut to the chin. Martinez dodges the next Figueroa hook and counters with one of his own. There's another counter, but Figueroa counters right back with a right-left combination. Good action early in this one.10-9 Figueroa
Round 2: Double jabs from Figueroa, and he blocks the body shot counter from Martinez. Vicious liver shot from Figueroa there, but once again Martinez fires right back, getting in a left hook of his own to the chin, followed shortly by a clean uppercut from the right hand. Martinez seems to have found something with those uppercuts, and he shoots another one up through Figueroa's gloves. Figueroa leads with the right hand, and Martinez clobbers him with a counter hook that puts him on wobbly legs. Incredibly, Figueroa is right back on the offensive, scoring with the same right hand that got him countered moments ago. Martinez sends in another brutal left hook that smashes into Figueroa's jaw, but the Colombian ends the round punching nonetheless. 10-9 Martinez, 19-19
Round 3: Figueroa seems determined to get back into this fight as he walks Martinez down and hammers his ribs with left and then right. Martinez is unperturbed, and he stings Figueroa with a lead right that only prompts another spirited response from Figueroa. Good jab from the Colombian. Figueroa misses on a right hand and almost eats a fight-ending counter right as a result. Close call there. Martinez's back hits the ropes, he bounces back and slides right under Figueroa's jab to land a crushing left uppercut to the stomach. Figueroa comes back with a body shot of his own, pushing Martinez into th eropes now, completely unafraid of the counters that have been catching him so cleanly. He forces Martinez to cover up with a pair of hard shots to the ribs. 10-9 Martinez, 29-28
Round 4: Figueroa working the body again, immediately pressing Martinez backward. Martinez stings him with two left hooks, but Figueroa is unconcerned. 1-1-2 from Figueroa, with the right barely missing thanks to the raised shoulder of Martinez. FIgueroa stands tall on a jab and eats a counter right from Martinez. More body shots from Figueroa as Martinez retreats, but he eats the right hand on the way in, and then the left hook. Figueroa is relentless, absolutely determined to keep his "0" intact. Two quick throwaway punches from Martinez hide a nice left uppercut up the center, but Figueroa staggers him with a heavy overhand right immediately after. Tries to follow up and walks into an equally heavy shot from Martinez. Another lead right for Martinez, and he dances across the ring. FIgueroa ends the round with some vicious body shots in the corner. Great fight! 10-9 Figueroa, 38-38
Round 5: Figueroa slips Martinez's jab and lands a left to the body, but a massive left hook from Martinez floors him, and he stands early only to go reeling into the corner. Martinez is coming out with blood in mind now, but Figueroa is still throwing back at him. Eating heavy leather, but refusing to back down. What a last stand from Figueroa, but Martinez was landing too much, and the ref does the right thing, saving Figueroa from himself. What a fight!
BRANDON ADAMS vs JOHN THOMPSON IV
Round 1: No surprises, Adams comes out aggressively, and immediately knocks Thompson down on a right hand! Thompson seems okay now, and as Adams rushes in again he actually batters him with a sharp three-punch combination. Winging right hand barely misses the mark for Adams--watch that dangerously lofty chin of Thompson, which has been a liability for the entire tournament. Adams misses on another overhand right, and Thompson clubs him with two very hard right hands in the resultant clinch. Adams scores with the right hand, but Thompson counters his next attempt with a much straighter right of his own. Body jab from Adams. 10-9 Adams, despite the knockdown
Round 2: The replay made that knockdown look like more off a slip or incidental loss of balance more than anything. Thompson eats a big right hand early in this round though, fired over that long jab of his. Hard right hand from Adams again, and Thompson is wobbled, but lands a thudding right of his own the moment Adams tries to follow up. And there's a vicious 1-2, and Adams is badly hurt, and he's down! That was no false knockdown, folks! Adams beats the count, and Thompson lunges in behind a furious left hook. Huge punches from Thompson now, and Adams is being given a standing 8-count. He's out on his feet. Thompson is going tyo finish him here. He batters him again, and the ref finally saves Adams. John Thompson, late replacement to the tournament, is your 154 pound Boxcino champion! Wow!
ISAAC ZARATE vs FERNANDO FUENTES
Round 1: Zarate fighting very aggressively at the start here, slinging big southpaw left hands to the body and right hooks upstairs. There's a clean left upstairs, but as the next one misses Fuentes fires back with a three punch combination, scoring with the final punch to the chin. Now it's Fuentes on the aggressive, switching to southpaw himself and slugging away at Zarate's ribs. Back to orthodox, and the short overhand lands for Fuentes. Fuentes gets a little too eager and runs into Zarate's jab. Left uppercut for Zarate, and a counter right hook just before the bell. 10-9 Zarate
Round 2: Zarate charging out guns blazing once again, and he lands the right hook as Fuentes pulls back. Some good body shots in response from Fuentes, but Zarate gets in a clean right hand to the chin shortly after. Fuentes gets tangled up with Zarate's lead foot and goes down. No harm, no foul. Vicious lead left from Zarate, and Fuentes charges after him with some terrifically wide body shots. Hard to tell if they caught anything but elbows. Zarate slips Fuentes' jab and goes to the body himself. Fuentes gets in a pair of rights on the inside after making Zarate miss, but eats a counter on a repeat attempt. 10-9 Zarate, 20-18
Round 3: Zarate seems intent on landing the right hook now, and does so twice over the top of Fuentes' lazy jab. Zarate jabs and lands the hard left hand after. He seems to have settled down considerably, and looks more in control of his wild opponent as a result. There's another beautifulstraight left from Zarate--not too much steam on it, but no telegraph as a result. Fuentes appears to be bleeding fro a cut outside his nostril. Zarate looking to counter now. Waits a little too long, and eats an awkward shift left to the chin that seems to stagger him briefly. Fuentes smells blood, but Zarate smartly ties him up, and he looks recovered already. Zarate ends the round slipping and countering with an uppercut to the body. 10-9 Zarate, 30-27
Round 4: Fuentes is settling into his role as aggressor, and he lands a few rights to the breadbasket around the pestering Zarate jab. Zarate stabs him with a straight left to the body, and decides to start coming forward again himself. Zarate is slugging more than boxing, all of a sudden, just slugging away at Fuentes' body. He may have Fuentes hurt, in fact. Fuentes soaks up more body shots, but lands a hard one of his own, right to the solar plexus, and now Zarate is forced to take a backwards step. Both guys throwing heavy blows here. Fuentes does his best Antonio Margarito impression, putting the left hook to the body behind his lunging right hand. Right to the head there from Fuentes, and he's coming on strong. Close round. 10-9 Fuentes, 39-37 Zarate
Round 5: Fuentes chasing Zarate down again, landing a few straight shots to the body, but a pair of body shots from Zarate backs him off for a moment. He's getting rough in the clinches now, though, and it's helping him considerably. Zarate may be tiring a little bit now, while Fuentes is throwing and moving like a fresh fighter, if still a wild one. Zarate bounces off the ropes, and runs right into Fuentes' jab. Fuentes is all body shots now. Zarate fires back with three body blows of his own, but Fuentes just pushes him back into th eropes and smothers his work. Fuentes' output keeps increasing, while Zarate's is waning considerably. Nasty right uppercut in the clinch from Fuentes to punish Zarate's attempt to tie him up, and that was Fuentes' best round yet. 10-9 Fuentes, 48-47 Zarate
Round 6: Fuentes feinting and bouncing back and forth, runs into a stiff Zarate jab on the way into the pocket, but lands some nasty body shots shortly thereafter. Zarate tries to fire back, but Fuentes hits a surprisingly subtle angle and absolutely hammers his solar plexus with a straight right hand. Zarate is definitely fading, but still managing to counter Fuentes as he grows more and more aggressive. Fuentes may be tiring himself now, after eating a hard uppercut from Zarate. Zarate musters his strength and counters with a six punch combination, hammering Fuentes' body. Fuentes missing yet again, and eating counters in the process. Great comeback from Zarate, and that should win him the round. 10-9 Zarate, and I have him winning 58-56