It can be argued that the
best fight of the weekend is the “Boxcino” lightweight final between Petr
Petrov and Fernando Carcamo from the Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona,
New York, that co-headlines tonight’s edition of ESPN2’s “Friday Night Fights.”
Yes, there are higher profile cards taking place (notably on Showtime,
featuring Adonis Stevenson from Montreal on Saturday evening) but the best
two-way action might come from Petrov and Carcamo.
Also on this broadcast is
the “Boxcino” middleweight final between Willie Monroe Jr. and Brandon Adams.
But the lightweights might really steal the show.
“I think you're right,”
admitted Artie Pelullo, who certainly isn't unbiased in his opinion given he's
promoted this tournament. “They're both going to be great fights but the
Petrov-Carcamo fight, I think somebody’s getting knocked out. I don't know who’s
getting knocked out but I think somebody’s getting knocked out. I want to know
who Carcamo lost to five times. He has five losses on his record and I said to
his manager, ‘Whoever he lost to, I want to sign them.’”
“Boxcino” is not a new
concept (nor are tournaments, for that matter). Back in the late ‘90s, Pelullo
staged the inaugural “Boxcino.” He explained, “I tried to do it a couple of
years earlier but then when the climate changed at ESPN and the management changed,
I went to see [ESPN Head of Boxing Programming] Brian Kweder and I went see [ESPN
Director of Programming Acquisitions] John Campagna and I laid out my idea to
them about, ‘Why don't we do this tournament? We did it before with you and I
found Acelino ‘Popo’ Freitas and I found a couple of other fighters like J.C.
Candelo,’ and they loved the idea. They loved the idea of a tournament. They
loved the idea that the fans could follow how all the fighters were doing week
in and week out.”
According to Pelullo, ESPN
spent a good amount of money on the production for this tourney and did
extensive backgrounds on all the participants. “Not like the 10-minute
interviews they do before each fight airs,” he pointed out.
In theory, tournaments are
great. They certainly work for other sports but in boxing, they are only as
good as the fighters who participate in them. Both Petrov and Carcamo have put
on strong performances in entertaining affairs. Just looking at these two, they
seem to go together like peanut butter and jelly. Also helping out is the quick
turnaround. For the lightweights, “Boxcino” began on February 21st,
then resumed on March 28th and concludes tonight. Three fights in
three months. It wasn't a long and drawn-out process in which the audience
either forgets the participants or simply loses interest.
format seems optimal.
“'Well, we think it is
because we've been getting a lot of good press from people like you. The fans
love it and ESPN loves it. People just love following it and it's a
single-elimination; it’s do-or-die. The best part is that the first round was
six rounds and then eight rounds and then 10. You gotta fight six and eight
rounds and if you get dropped, you're behind by two points in a six-rounder -
that's two rounds. You gotta fight,” explained Pelullo.
When asked how difficult it
was to actually get managers and their fighters on board “Boxcino,” Pelullo
admitted, “It is hard to put together tournaments, to find kids who are willing
to take a chance and they're gambling that they get the exposure and it went
well because everyone stayed in the fight because we paid them well. But at the
end of the day, these kids all took a chance on an opportunity to advance their
The fighters involved here
were unattached to the likes of Top Rank Promotions or Golden Boy Promotions (therefore,
not on the fast track to HBO or Showtime). Perhaps they had no other choice but
to roll the dice and take a risk. It could be argued that they really had
nothing to lose and everything to gain. Regardless, the winner tonight will
come out highly rated by both the WBA and WBO. With the fractured nature of
today's boxing business, boxers who are not aligned with Top Rank and Golden
Boy may not have much choice but to dive into things like “Boxcino.” At the
very least, the finalists will have gotten three nationally televised dates.
“I think not so much the
climate [of the business] but the actual tournament,” is what Pelullo thinks is
the major inducement to sign up for “Boxcino.” “The business, some guys are
always going to want to go with the guy who's considered the biggest guy in the
world. And then other guys, it's like staying at a boutique hotel. Other people
like to go with people that they're more centered around. You're going to be
more taken care of because I only have 50 fighters. I don't have 150 fighters
like Bob Arum.
(For the record, neither Pelullo
nor Arum has that many clients.)
“But I also think the
tournament is a concept where we can go somewhere quicker and get somewhere
faster if you're willing to gamble. I think that helped me a lot. I really do
think that the fighters that were in the tournament believed enough in
themselves to try it and take a shot and I think it turned out pretty good,” said
Can we expect more “Boxcino”
in the future?
Pelullo says optimistically,
“Well, right now, we're talking to ESPN. They love the idea and we're trying to
expand it to three weight classes. So I think it's very successful and I think
we're going to do it again. I don't have a definitive on that but I think we'll
do it again.”
Here's my latest
contribution to SportsOnEarth.com on Manny Pacquiao's contract extension with
Top Rank and its real ramifications:
Here’s the latest episode of “The Next
Round” with Gabe Montoya and Yours Truly:
“Friday Night Fights” begins
at 9 p.m., ET...Karl Dargan-Anthony Flores has been added to the June 21st “Fight Night” card on NBC Sports Network...Luciano Cuello is being discussed as
Jorge Melendez's new foe on June 7th on the Sergio Martinez-Miguel
Cotto pay-per-view undercard...Geez, the Lakers can't catch a break nowadays...Do
you give Mark Cuban points for honesty?...The Spurs are clicking on all
cylinders right now...
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