- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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Eight-man tournaments in the lightweight and middleweight divisions will be the focus of five editions of ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights" beginning on Feb. 21, the network announced on Tuesday.
Artie Pelullo of Banner Promotions and ESPN2 unveiled plans for the single-elimination Boxcino 2014 tournament. This is the second time Banner Promotions and ESPN have put on a Boxcino tournament. The first was in 1997, and that tournament produced a major star in Acelino "Popo" Freitas of Brazil, who went on to win world titles at junior lightweight and lightweight and became one of boxing's most significant fighters.
The Boxcino lightweight field will include:
• Yakubu Amidu (22-4-1, 18 KOs) of Los Angeles
• Fernando Carcamo (15-5, 12 KOs) of Mexico
• Miguel Gonzalez (22-3, 16 KOs) of Cleveland
• Miguel Angel Mendoza (21-2-2, 21 KOs) of Mexico
• Samuel Neequaye (21-0, 15 KOs) of Ghana
• Fedor Papazov (14-0, 9 KOs) of Russia
• Petr Petrov (32-4-2, 15 KOs) of Spain
• Chris Rudd (12-1, 8 KOs) of Covington, Tenn.
The middleweight competitors will be:
• Brandon Adams (12-0, 7 KOs) of San Diego
• Sena Agbeko (15-0, 15 KOs) of Ghana
• Donatas Bondorovas (18-4-1, 6 KOs) of Chicago
• Daniel Edouard (23-4-2, 12 KOs) of West Palm Beach, Fla.
• Cerresso Fort (17-2-1, 11 KOs) of St. Paul, Minn.
• Raymond Gatica (13-1, 7 KOs) of Austin, Texas
• Willie Monroe Jr. (15-1, 6 KOs) of Rochester, N.Y.
• Vitalii Kopylenko (22-0, 12 KOs) of Ukraine.
The draw for both brackets will be unveiled on this week's "Friday Night Fights" (ESPN2, 9 ET). The quarterfinal bouts will be scheduled six-rounders, the semifinal matches will be slated for eight rounds and the two finals will be 10-round fights. The boxer who wins each weight class will receive the Boxcino 2014 title belt.
"We are looking forward to showcasing this tournament on 'Friday Night Fights' and 'Noche de Combates' (on ESPN Deportes)," said Brian Kweder, ESPN senior director of programming and acquisitions. "It will give fans the opportunity to see some of the best up-and-coming fighters in the sport and follow them throughout the 'Friday Night Fights' and 'Noche de Combates' season. ESPN did a similar tournament back in 1997, which was won by future four-time world champion Acelino Freitas. We hope to find another diamond in the rough like we did that year."
The lightweight quarterfinals are first up on Feb. 21 at the Edgewater Hotel & Casino in Laughlin, Nev. The middleweight quarterfinals follow the next week on Feb. 28 at Harrah's Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Ind.
The lightweight semifinal round will take place March 28 at the 4 Bears Casino & Lodge in New Town, S.D. The middleweight semifinals are April 18 at the Turning Resort & Casino in Verona, N.Y.
The finals in both weight classes will take place on May 23, also at Turning Stone.
"This will be one of the most unique tournaments that boxing has seen in a long time," Pelullo said. "We are excited at the concept and we believe that new stars will be born. The fans will be able to watch these fighters grow and the fighters know that with a great performance, they have a chance to become a major player in the sport."