By Cliff Rold
32-year old WBC Cruiserweight titlist Krzysztof Wlodarczyk (49-2-1, 35 KO) of Piaseczno, Poland, On Friday night at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago, Illinois, made his sixth successful title defense when the ring doctor stopped the bout prior to the start of the seventh round due to a cut. 44-year old challenger Giacobbe Fragomeni (31-4-2, 12 KO) of Milan, Lombardia, Italy, was dropped in the fourth and well behind in the fight.
Wlodarczyk weighed in a pound below the division limit at 199, Fragomeni at 198. The referee was Rocky Burke.
After three measured rounds where Wlodarczyk easily outboxed the challenger, Fragomeni came alive a bit in the fourth, landing a solid uppercut and pressing the action. Fragomeni was made to pay for his effort late in the round. Coming out of a clinch, before the referee could break the fighters, Wlodarczyk landed a left to the face that opened a gash under the left eye of Fragomeni and sent him down for a count. Fragomeni rose in time and made it to the bell.
In the fifth, Fragomeni continued to try but was rocked again with a big left hook and could find little answer for Wlodarczyk’s jab. Wlodarczyk continued to control the action in the sixth but Fragomeni looked fine to continue. The ring doctor felt otherwise. Despite Fragomeni’s cut being below the eye, and of no harm to his field of vision, the decision was made to halt the bout prior to the start of round seven.
Interviewed after the fight and asked about unification in the Cruiserweight class, Wlodarczyk answered with a stoic, “Why not?” There has been no unification at Cruiserweight since David Haye left the division to pursue Heavyweight glory. Given a pool of regularly exciting titlists, the prospect of unification would be most welcome.
This was the third bout between the two. In the first, Wlodarczyk challenged Fragomeni for the WBC belt in 2009 and was held to a draw in Italy. The return match in Poland saw Wlodarczyk win his second title in the division with an eighth-round stoppage. Wlodarczyk also briefly held the IBF Cruiserweight title in 2006, earning a disputed decision over American Steve Cunningham in Poland. Cunningham won an immediate rematch in 2007.
In the semi-final, rising 26-year old Polish Light Heavyweight Andrzej Fonfara (25-2, 15 KO), 176, of Chicago, Illinois, scored his third straight win inside the route with a second round knockout of 34-year old Samuel Miller (26-8, 23 KO), 176, of La Habra, California. It was Miller’s second knockout loss in three fights and fourth loss overall in his last six. The referee was Gerald Scott.
The first round saw both men throwing heavy shots but it was Fonfara who landed the most telling blow. With the round drawing to a close, Fonfara landed a big body shot and dropped Miller in the corner. Miller complained of a low blow but the ref dished out a count and Miller rose at nine. In the second, an exchange ended with Fonfara’s back turned. Miller let loose a blatant rabbit punch and received an immediate warning. Action resumed and Fonfara answered the transgression with a single, explosive lead left hook. Miller went down and did not beat the count. The final time of the knockout was 58 seconds of round two.
Interviewed in the ring after the fight, Fonfara spoke about how he set up the finish. “My corner…told me use the left hand. It’s like thunder punch.” Asked about the future, and the chance to challenge for a title at Light Heavyweight, Fonfara smiled and said, “No problem. For me it’s no problem.” With wins over former titlists Glen Johnson and Gabriel Campillo already under his belt, and a knockout like he posted tonight, opportunity can only be right around the corner.
In a swing bout, 32-year old Irish Super Middleweight Henry Coyle (19-2, 12 KO), 163, of Chicago, Illinois, used a questionable knockdown in the final round and a lot of hustle to score a six-round unanimous decision over 31-year old Skyler Thompson (12-10, 10 KO), 167, of Rockford, Illinois. Final scores came in at 59-54 and 60-53 twice. The referee was Lou Hall.
At Jr. Welterweight, 24-year old Adrian Granados (13-2-2, 9 KO), 143, of Cicero, Illinois, scored his fourth stoppage in five starts, dropping 33-year old Carlos Winston Velasquez (21-18-1, 11 KO), 140, of Managua, Nicaragua, twice in round five and forcing a retirement in the corner prior to the start of round six.
In the broadcast opener, 24-year old Super Middleweight prospect Jonathan Gonzalez (17-0-1, 14 KO), 165, of Puerto Rico, scored knockdowns in the first, second, fourth, and fifth rounds en route a fifth round stoppage of 29-year old Jason Palomeque (14-8-1, 9 KO), 170, of Colombia. It was Gonzalez’s first start since a majority decision in January over Derek Ennis, a fight in which Gonzalez scaled just a shade over 152 lbs. The official time of the stoppage was 1:05 of round five. The referee was Gerald Scott.
The card was webcast via ESPN3.com.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene and a member of the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]