It was another appearance in Andrzej Fonfara’s adopted hometown of Chicago, Illinois at the UIC Pavilion as he and Nathan Cleverly put on a 175lb classic. The Polish fans were cheering for Fonfara loud enough that the Spike broadcast was able to capture their intense fandom.
There was a lot to like from both men in the 1st round as Cleverly initiated the jab from a workable distance, while Fonfara used his precision punching to make an impact in the fight. Both fighters’ heads went flying back in the first round and the fight had a rhythm where each fighter was allowed their moments without the other’s defense getting in the way.
Cleverly’s style was a bit more impressive because he was able to work the jab and maintain a dense. But Fonfara showed an innate ability to pick his opportunities, the moments when his opponent was fully willing to give up some ground.
It is very hard to draw a distinction between both Cleverly and Fonfara based on the fact that they were doing some similar things in the ring without either fighter gaining a completely noticeable discrepancy. Both men were unleashing the leather and were not very considerate of their own health in the process. There was plenty of leather landing.
Fonfara was able to separate himself, but only slightly, as the rounds went on as he was able to land what appeared to be the more meaningful shots and his effort seemed a little less hindered by physicality than that of his opponent.
Cleverly had separated himself early, Fonfara late, but around mid-fight Fonfara was able to turn his game up a level and he went after Cleverly with a raw desperation built off of a desire to not be outdone. Fonfara ended up busting Cleverly’s nose with blood everywhere. Cleverly was spewing blood like a fire hydrant and it was clear it was broken, although it was later confirmed by the ring doctor somewhere around the end of the fight.
As Fonfara gained some real momentum, Cleverly was able to bring the fight closer as he turned in some solid rounds with a real ability to gut out his offense. I don’t want to make it seem as though Cleverly’s efforts were all heart, they were mostly heart, but his offense was based on real skill and a very uncanny ability to know when to throw and know when to take gambles.
Fonfara was able gain momentum back with the same offense he’d used from the beginning – well timed and precise punches stemming from a combination that Cleverly had absolutely no answer for.
The fight went the distance and it would’ve made sense if either fighter was awarded the fight. However, Fonfara enjoyed the benefits of a hometown crowd and he was the fighter coming into the bout with more momentum. Even though Fonfara didn’t own a belt, he had to be considered the favorite, making it likely that Cleverly would be chasing him in rounds to begin the fight.
The judges turned in the scores of 115-113 and 116-112 twice for Fonfara, giving him the unanimous decision. These two men broke several CompuBox records for punches thrown in a light heavyweight contest and I for one would love a rematch.