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Fonfara bursts onto the scene with win over Johnson

By Matthew Paras

On a day with 3947 people cheering his name and with people watching on ESPN 2’s Friday Night Fights, Andrezj Fonfara, 22-2 (12), delivered in the biggest fight of his career. Over ten rounds, the Chicago based Pole impressively outboxed former Light Heavyweight Champion Glen Johnson, 51-17-2 (35), to win a unanimous decision by the scores of 99-91 and 97-93 twice.

“This was my best fight in my life. This fight I used my head and I think a lot,” Fonfara said. “As my corner said, this was not my hardest fight, but my smartest fight.”

“Glen (Johnson) is a great warrior and this was my first big fight. I’m a pro and am ready for a world title.”

Fonfara controlled the fight throughout with his footwork and relying on his superior handspeed. It was a gameplan that let the fighter be in control.

“Every round I felt comfortable and I controlled the fight. I [saw] everything he was doing,” he stated.

Although after a fast start by Fonfara, Glen Johnson proceeded to make his adjustments in the middle round. In round five, Johnson plodded forward and landed a sweeping right hand down the middle.

Round seven was also a better round for Johnson as he outworked his younger opponent on the ropes. However, Fonfara gained a second wind that was crucial in the following rounds.

Fonfara’s corner pleaded for their fighter to work the whole round and that’s just what the fighter did. Going back to the original gameplan, Fonfara landed his faster jabs and smacked Johnson with the overhand right.

Johnson failed to readjust.

“I decided to get a little more aggressive [in the middle rounds]. I just couldn’t keep it up,” Johnson said. “I knew how to win that fight, to go about winning. I just wasn’t able to be consistent at it.”

“I needed to be consistent like I used to when I was younger, but father time caught up with me. I still know what to do, but don’t have what it takes to maintain it.”

At the start of round ten, both fighters came out fast but the 43 year old Johnson could not match the workout of the younger fighter. The final bell ring and Fonfara’s promoter, Dominic Pesoli, rushed into the ring to celebrate with his fighter.

“I thought he did excellent. He stuck with his gameplan…He took some great shots. He showed everyone that he has a beard,” Pesoli said.

Afterwards, Fonfara dedicated the fight to former polish boxer and Olympic Gold Medalist Jerzy Kulej, who had died earlier in the evening. Glen Johnson told reporters that he would retire.

 As to who “The Polish Prince” has his eye on next, WBO Light Heavyweight Champion Nathan Cleverly was mentioned by Fonfara.

“I want to be world champion. I want to be the best guy. If Cleverly wants to fight me, let’s do it,” he stated. “I can go there or he can come here to chicago, my city, and we can fight here.”

Whether he gets a title shot remains to be seen. Until then, Fonfara will have his chance to rest and enjoy the biggest victory of his career.

Jose Luis Castillo grinds one out against Ivan Popoca

By Matthew Paras

For the first two rounds, it seemed like the Jose Luis Castillo of old. For the next seven rounds, he wasn’t so bad either.

In the co-main event of ESPN 2’s Friday Night Fights, former lightweight champion Jose Luis Castillo, 64-11-1 (55), dismantled Ivan Popoca, 15-2-1, over eight rounds before Referee Pete Podgroski stopped the fight due to cuts above Popoca’s eyes.

Castillo, 147, started off strong by landing his signature left hook to stun Popoca against the ropes. Popoca, who hadn’t fought in a year and a half, remained defenseless as Castillo earned a 10-8 round without a knockdown.

“El Telimbe” carried the momentum into the next round with landing another crisp left hook that sent Popoca to the floor.  Popoca arose and recovered towards the end of the round.

The two fighters came to a clash of heads in round three that caused a gash over Popoca’s left eye.    Popoca’s face became even worse when a cut, caused by a punch, opened up a deeper cut over the fighter’s right eye. Despite this, Popoca continued to plunge forward delivering great action to the Chicago crowd.

The fight took an even more interesting turn in round six after Castillo seemingly hurt his left hand after landing it. For the next two rounds, Castillo boxed with only his right hand with mixed results.

Still, with Popoca’s face decorated in his own blood, referee Pete Podgroski stopped the fight in between rounds eight and nine. It was an unpopular decision as the Chicago crowd booed, but the referee defends it.

“I talked to the corner two rounds before this to show me something,” Podgroski told Maxboxing.  “One cut was from a headbutt, one was from a punch, that’s why it was a TKO instead of going to the cards.”

“The next round if he didn’t show me something, I was going to stop it. He didn’t.”

More Undercard Results

Vilier Quinonez vs Dorian Hatcher

Villier Quinonez, 4-0 (3), notched the first win of the evening under strange circumstances as an overhand left on the break put down Dorian Hatcher,1-6, in the second round. Instead of ruling the punch a foul, Celestino Ruiz proceeded to count Hatcher out. The official time of the stoppage was :44 seconds. 

Juan Bustamante vs Micah Branch

Local Lightweight Juan Bustamante, 4-0 (2), continued his undefeated career with a win over Micah Branch, 0-2. Bustamante started off strong with landing a crisp left hook that sent Branch down. However, Branch bounced back strong in the following rounds. Branch’s shoulder roll defense caused Bustamante some problems, but it was Bustamante’s activity that gave him the majority of the rounds. Scores were 40-34, 39-36, and 38-37 all for Bustamante.

Junior wright vs Covon Graham

In the third fight of the evening, prospect Junior Wright, 4-0 (4), landed a clean body shot that sent Covon Graham down at 2:58 in the first round. Referee Pete Prodgroski counted him out.

Jimmy Herrera vs Tyrone Chatman

Jimmy Herrera, 8-2 (4) , earned a majority decision over Tyrone Chatman by scores of 57-57 and 58-56 twice. It was Herrera’s first fight back since his loss to Adrian Granados.

Paul Littleton vs Ramiro Bueno

Former Chicago Golden Glove Winner Paul Littleton advanced his career with a win over Ramiro Bueno, 2-3.  Littleton, 4-0, stopped Ramiro Bueno in the second round with a hard left.

Elijah McCall vs Jasson Massie

Heavyweight Elijah McCall, 10-1-1,  knocked out Jason Massie, 7-3, at 36 seconds into the fifth round.


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