Friday, March 24, 2023  |



Willie Monroe Jr. outpoints Bryan Vera on ‘Friday Night Fights’


Middleweight fringe contender Willie Monroe Jr. took another step toward 10-top contender status by outclassing veteran gatekeeper Bryan Vera over 10 rounds in the main event of an ESPN2 “Friday Night Fights” broadcast from the Turning Stone Casino in Verona, New York.

Monroe (19-1, 6 knockouts), a 28-year-old southpaw from nearby Rochester, New York, scored a flash technical knockdown in Round 5 en route to a unanimous decision victory by scores of 99-90, 98-91 and 97-92.

Vera (23-9, 14 KOs), a rugged 33-year-old veteran from Austin, Texas, had some success in the early rounds when he was able to crowd Monroe along the ropes and work the faster, mobile boxer’s body, but he wasn’t able to cut the ring off on a consistent basis and couldn’t compete at all when the fight was contested from a distance.

Monroe, who won the Boxcino middleweight tournament last year, nailed Vera at will with his left cross throughout the fight, often pot-shotting while on the move.

In the co-featured bout, Brandon Adams, the runner up to Boxcino middleweight tournament, bounced back from his lone loss to Monroe (by decision) with a second-round TKO of over-matched Lekan Byfield.

Adams (15-1, 10 KOs), an aggressive 25-year-old boxer from Los Angeles, dropped Byfield with a hook-cross combination in Round 1, and then put the skinny 28-year-old Atlanta resident down twice in Round 2, prompting referee Dick Pakozdi to wave the fight off at 1:58. A lunging right dropped Byfield (6-7-2, 1 KO) the second time, and some well placed body shots finished him off.

The ESPN2 broadcast began with a fun scheduled four-round welterweight preliminary bout between Greg Jackson and Cornelius Whitlock. Jackson (4-1-1, 2 KOs) got up from a highlight-reel knockdown in Round 2, quickly cleared his head and resumed control of the bout before the round’s end. The rangy 26-year-old Philly fighter then rocked Whitlock (3-2-2) one minute into Round 3, driving the awkward 31-year-old Baltimore resident into the ropes where referee Charlie Fitch stopped the bout at 1:27.