Fonfara aims to pole axe Cleverly

Shaun Brown
15/10/2015 5:34pm

Andrzej Fonfara understands why some people in boxing view this Friday’s bout against Nathan Cleverly as a 50-50 affair.

The Chicago-based Pole has heard reasons such as the similarities in their records, age, attributes, their standing amongst a thriving light-heavyweight division and the startling fact that both men’s professional careers started at least 20 pounds south of where they are now – 175lbs.

Fonfara (27-3, 16 KOs) says that on paper, yes, it looks like an even match-up with the Welshman but he aims to prove that he and the former WBO world light-heavyweight champion are poles apart this Friday night at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago, Illinois.

What began with a borderline sinister laugh to the 50-50 suggestion was quickly followed by: “You know, I think I win this fight and I’m sure I win this fight. I’m a stronger boxer than Cleverly but for sure he will be over here to show me he’s better and he’s a dangerous guy. He’s just lost two fights. He’s got good defence and he’s fast. Some people, some experts, think I win the fight. It looks like 50-50 fight but I will prove to myself and show him that I win this fight,” Fonfara told Boxing Monthly.

“This is a very important fight for me,” he added. “He’s a former world champion, has a lot of experience which means a good fight for me and for him. I’m ready for this fight and ready to show him I am the better boxer.

“I expect Cleverly to be in his best shape because he knows [about] this fight a long time ago. He trains well. He came to United States a week before the fight for acclimatisation. I expect the best performance from Cleverly and I like it because I want to fight the best Nathan Cleverly.”

Fonfara’s confidence is as high as his adopted home’s 1,451ft tall Willis Tower after his victory over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr back in April. It is a surname that has carried the Mexican to some big fights and paydays but Chavez Jr looked broken after Fonfara dropped him with a left hand in round nine. 

Taking such a prized scalp has seen Fonfara’s stock rise and he told BM that he expected a more resolute opponent.

“From the first round to nine, he cry,” the 27-year-old recalled.

“I hold him, he doesn’t like it and complains to referee. I thought he was a tougher boxer, a stronger boxer but he was not. After the first round, a couple of rounds, I know I knock out him inside 12 rounds. I believed I could stop him. It was a good fight for me. A good fight for my name.”

The victor in Friday night’s dust-up will likely reach another world title shot in 2016. Cleverly (29-2, 15 KOs) has been to part of the light-heavyweight summit holding the WBO title in 2011 before having it brutally ripped away by Sergey Kovalev two years later. Fonfara’s ascent to the top was halted by WBC king Adonis Stevenson in May last year.

“My goal is to rematch with Stevenson,” stated Fonfara.

That night in Montreal’s Bell Centre, the champion, more often than not, was allowed to tee off in his third title defence which saw Fonfara put down for the third time in his career in round one. The challenger was down again in round five before rallying in the second half of the bout to drop the home favourite with a straight right. The champion’s first trip to the canvas since Darnell Boone memorably put him away in 2010.

Eventually, Fonfara would lose a unanimous decision, but he feels a return bout would have a different outcome thanks to his own development since then.

“I had one fight with him, it was a good fight. I feel now I have more chance if we fight in rematch. Now I am a more smarter fighter, a better fighter. I had a good finish (in the first fight) but it was not enough to beat the world champion. If you want to beat the champion you must knock champion out or show him the best skills. And I think I am now ready for Stevenson.

“I fight to face best in the world that’s why I do the boxing. Nathan Cleverly is one of the best guys but I think about Kovalev, Stevenson and [Jurgen] Braehmer, too. I want to be world champion and the best in the division. I want the big fights. The first step is Nathan Cleverly and then Stevenson. We’ll see. Now we prepare for Cleverly, after the fight I can say more about my next fight and Stevenson.”