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ESPN began their two tournaments this Friday, starting with the lightweight division and next week will be the beginning of the Middleweight division.
The first bout was Chris Rudd, a fighter who was hoping this tournament would lead to greater things against Ghana fighter Yuakubu Amidu, who’s managed by actor Vince Vaughn. Rudd began the fight using his jab and reach to maintain the real estate against Amidu. Rudd dominated the first round and for most of the second round, he used his height to his advantage but in the last thirty seconds, Amidu finally got inside the taller Rudd. Amidu continued to fight on the inside through the third round and started to unleash some solid left hooks as Rudd occasionally gave up his height that allowed Amidu to score effectively. At the end of third round, Rudd caught Amidu with a left hook and may have stolen the round while negating Amidu early advantages.
The fourth round saw both fighters fighting on the inside with Amidu gaining the advantage but Rudd did managed a solid upper cut but this round saw Amidu forcing Rudd to fight his fight but the Fifth round saw Rudd returning to boxing. This boxing style gave Rudd the advantage as Amidu did little to cut off ring and Rudd escape repeatedly. Amidu pressured Rudd throughout the sixth and final round; leaving the decision in the hands of the judges who declared the fight a draw which produced a seventh round draw breaker. (Ted Atlas had this fight 4 rounds to 2 in favor of Amidu but I agreed with the judges and had the first six rounds even.) Rudd switched from orthodox to southpaw as he won the first two minutes of the tie breaking round as Amidu could not get inside to land a big punch. Rudd won the seventh round and the fight; producing the tournament first big surprise.
Fedor Papazov faced Petr Petrov in a battle of Russians. The first round was close as the undefeated Papazov had difficulty with Petrov’s boxing style and this continued into the second round as Petrov connected on some solid rights even though Papazov landed some solid shots himself. The third round matched the fast pace of the first two rounds as both fighters were able to do solid combinations. The fourth round repeated the pattern of the previous three as these rounds were close and hard to score, When Petrov boxed and jabbed effectively, he control the bout but when Papazov got inside, he held the advantage. In the middle of the fifth round, Petrov landed three rights and a left hook that sent Papazov reeling but Papazov managed to land two solid hooks. Petrov dominated the fifth with his left jabs which allowed him to follow up with left hooks and accurate rights. Papazov and Petrov fought on even terms in the sixth round and once again, the judges held both fighters in their hand. Petrov won the decision and now he is scheduled to fight Rudd in the semi-finals.
American Miguel Gonzalez faced Miguel Angel Mendoza in his American debut for the third fight. Gonzalez southpaw appeared to give Mendoza’s problem as Mendoza looked tentative. In the second round, Mendoza started to throw his right hands with reckless abandonment along with left hooks and he scored effectively in the second half. In the first minute of the round, Mendoza unleashed two upper cuts that appeared to come from the floor as Gonzalez simply abandon his boxing styles and fought on the inside.
When Gonzalez allowed himself some space, he connected against Mendoza with effective shots but when he allowed himself to stay inside, the advantages shifted toward Mendoza. Throughout the fourth and fifth round, Gonzalez used his boxing styles to give himself space to nail Mendoza with solid shots. In the sixth round, it was Mendoza who controlled the pace as he stayed inside and threw some solid upper cuts and hooks to the body. Gonzalez won a close split decision but boxing fans loved Mendoza more as they booed the decision. This fight could easily have gone to a seventh round tiebreaker!
Southpaw Fernado Carcamo faced the undefeated Samuel Kotey Neequayle in an intriguing match ups that featured a knockdown by Carcamo in the opening rund. While Carcamo did give up his height advantage in the early going of the first round, he connected on some accurate shots. Carcamo nailed Neequalye with two right hands and lefts in the first minute of the second round and Neequalye staggered backward. Carcamo pursued his opponent and finished him up with one more left that forced the referee to stop the fight as Neequayle staggered to the floor.
The first weekend of this tournament not only had its share of surprises but three of these fights were close events and the evening concluded with a spectacular knockout.