By Jake Donovan
Getting the runaround for a fight that never materialized turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Donovan George.
Less than a month after watching an IBO title fight with Colombia’s Alexander Brand fall by the wayside, the Chicagoland super middleweight now has the chance to fight for the same title. This time, the opportunity comes at home, as George will face Dyah Davis (22-4-1, 10KO) atop an August 23 show at Cellular Field in Chicago.
“This is a real exciting time for Team George,” states Bobby Hitz, who along with Round 3 Productions serves as George’s co-promoter. “How many fighters get the chance to fight for a world title in their hometown?”
A return to the home of Major League Baseball’s Chicago White Sox was on the minds of local promoters from the moment the venture proved to be a huge success last August.
More than 8,000 fans piled into a condensed version of the stadium for the first outdoor show in Chicago since Sonny Liston knocked out Floyd Patterson to win the World heavyweight title more than 50 years ago.
The ESPN2-televised card last summer proved to be the best televised event of the 2013 season of ESPN2 Friday Night Fights. Andrzej Fonfara starred on the show, scoring a come-from-behind 8th round knockout of former light heavyweight champ Gabriel Campillo. In the co-feature, Artur Szpilka climbed off of the canvas to stop Mike Mollo in five thrilling heavyweight rounds that served as a virtual repeat of their first fight earlier in the year.
Both winners went on to bigger events, albeit in losing efforts, on premium cable. Szpilka suffered a 10th round stoppage against Bryant Jennings earlier this year on HBO, while Fonfara was valiant in defeat, recovering from two knockdowns to score one of his own before falling short to lineal light heavyweight king Adonis Stevenson this past May.
George (25-4-2, 22KO) has longed for a return to bigger and better things in his career, from the moment he suffered his own loss to Stevenson in their Oct. ’12 super middleweight title eliminator. It’s been an up-and-down journey for the 29-year old, who has suffered all four career losses within his past 10 fights, going 5-4-1 (5KO) over that stretch.
A knockout loss to Caleb Truax last June was thought to be the end of George, but instead just meant an end to his failed attempt to transform his 6’0” frame into a middleweight body. A return to super middleweight has since followed, though without much of a chance to show what he has left. George has fought just once since the Truax loss, scoring a rust-shaking 6th round knockout of Troy Lowry this past April after having signed with local promoters Hitz Boxing and Round 3 Productions.
Another appearance was planned for June 20 at the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Ind., where Hitz regularly hosts shows. George was pulled from the card when the chance arose to travel to Colombia to face Brand for the IBO super middleweight title. At the time, the move proved to be a waste of time, as George was given the runaround as to why the fight wasn’t going to happen.
“They said he was injured, and then didn’t know if the show was going to be postponed or canceled,” George said of the incident. “But Bobby told me I’d be fighting for the title in Chicago, so it all (worked) out.”
Hitz added: “We took, the fight on short notice, then got 100% (jerked) around. We kept getting different information, asking for tickets and travel itinerary. We had no confirmation.
“Sometimes things happen for a reason. If I never took the phone call to fight George Foreman on four days notice, maybe none of this ever happens.”
The postponed fight with Brand marked at least the second time in recent years that George went through an entire training camp for a major opportunity only to have nothing to show for it. A scheduled Dec. ’11 title eliminator with Librado Andrade was scrapped hours before the fight, when it was discovered that the ring to be used was much smaller than what was negotiated by both sides.
George went on to face and lose to then-unbeaten Edwin Rodriguez on HBO in April ’12. The bout took place six months before coming up short versus Stevenson in a fight that was the closest he’s come to fighting for a title through 10 years as a pro.
Through the strangest of circumstances, he now moves closer towards his goal.
“To make a local kid a world champion, wouldn’t that be sweet,” Hitz envisions.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox