By Michael Luketic
Photos: Albert Baker, InstantBoxing
It was a bitter sweet night for fans of ESPN’s Friday night fight series, as tonight was the last time this version of boxing on ESPN airs. The new version of boxing on ESPN will be Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions; no longer will fans see weekly fights but will now see higher caliber matches once a month. I was fortunate enough to cover the end of the Friday Night Fights era.
Friday Night Fights helped launch the careers of fighters such as Ruslan Provodikov, Emmanuel Agustus, and Mickey Ward made 26 appearances on the series. Not only did the series help launch fighters careers, but also announcers’ such as Max Kellerman and Brian Kenny, and who didn’t love Teddy Atlas going crazy on judges and officials? FNF was a great platform for getting unknown talent a place to be seen and in the final event of the series it did just that.
In lesser profile fights Issac Zarate, Humberto Rabalcava, Adam Lopez and Isaac Freeman all picked up impressive wins.
In the televised portion of the card Andres “Fabian” Figueroa took on Angel Martinez in a six round bout in the lightweight division.
Both fighters came out and set a furious pace early on landing shots inside, while fighting shoulder to shoulder trading shots in the first two rounds. In the third round, Martinez made an adjustment and started to use the ring and began to counter Figueroa, peppering him with lead right hands and pot shotting. Figueroa was game and continued to press the action and had some success landing body shots and the overhand right. In the fifth round Martinez landed a beautiful counter left hook that put Figueroa on the canvas; Figueroa was able to get to his feet though was clearly hurt. Martinez smelled blood and unleashed a barrage of punches that resulted in a stoppage late in the same round.
The most anticipated bout of the evening – ESPN’s junior middleweight Boxcino finale, pitted Brandon “The Cannon” Adams, last year’s runner up in the middleweight Boxcino tournament against John “Apollo Kidd” Thompson.
Adams came into the fight as the favorite to win this years Boxcino tournament and seconds into the first round he seemed well on his way to do just that, dropping Thompson early in the first round. Adams was intent on landing his over hand right on Thompson and by the middle of round one, Thompson begin finding openings for his own right and began landing combinations.
Adams came out aggressive in round two, again trying to land his over hand right that left himself open for Thompson to land his straight lefts and rights. Thompson put Adams on the canvas early in the second round with a combination. Sensing his opponent was hurt Thompson jumped on Adams landing right hands and left hooks upstairs. Adams was hurt badly and out on his feet receiving a standing eight count stumbling into the ropes, surprisingly he was allowed to continue. Thompson went in for the kill battering Adams along the ropes until the referee stepped in and called a halt to the bout.
In the final ESPN Friday Night Fights main event Andrey Fedosov took on Donnovan Dennis in the heavyweight final of ESPN’s Boxcino Tournament.
Dennis controlled the first round using his legs, sticking his jab, and at times throwing the left hand behind the jab as Fedosov came forward. Early in the second round Fedosov’s power advantage became evident as he landed multiple right hands and and two big left hooks that rocked Dennis forcing him to hold Fedosov for a large portion of the round.
The third round saw Fedosov drop Dennis with a right hand, again Dennis was able to hold and managed to survive the round. The fourth round saw Dennis with a solid come back round landing his straight left and and pumping his jab.
The fourth round was the last bit of success Dennis would have, as Fedosov applied relentless pressure backing him up consistently. Round six saw Dennis badly hurt from a series of right hands and in the seventh Dennis was forced to take a knee having eaten consecutive right hands. In the eighth round, Fedosov again landed a big right hand on the chin of Dennis sending him crashing to the canvas, Dennis was able to beat the referee’s count on very shaky legs but the referee made the right decision that Dennis was unable to continue fighting.