Sunday, March 18, 2012

Recap Windy City Fight Night 22

The air outside the UIC Pavilion rumbled with thunder and lightning as the building on the outskirts of downtown Chicago played host to Windy City Fight Nights 22, an 8 Count Productions event cosponsored by ESP, INC. The big draw for the night’s fights was undoubtedly Andrezj Fonfara, the Polish titleholder with the large fan base.

Let’s take a look at how the fights went.

Raeese Aleem (1-0-0, 1 KO) vs. DeWayne Wisdom (2-2-0, 1 KO)

The opening match of the night featured a couple of featherweights who didn’t mind mixing it up a bit. Aleem, in his second pro fight, was the aggressor during the entire match often landing three punches to everyone that Wisdom did.  “The Beast” also dominated the ring, spending most of the match pushing Wisdom (who took the match on only two days notice) against the ropes and into the corner. 

It wasn’t close on the scorecards as Aleem won by unanimous decision with all three judges’ scorecards reading 40-36. Personally I had Wisdom winning the third round when Aleem seemed to take a break and Wisdom was able to land three lunging power rights.  In the end the decision went to the boxer who landed more punches rather than the one who landed bigger punches.

Clifford McPherson (2-7-1, 1 KO) vs. Chad McKinney (Debut)

McKinney, a Chicago-based fighter, was making his debut in this contest, and he made it a memorable one.  For four rounds he beguiled his opponent by switching from a southpaw to an orthodox stance. Throughout the four rounds, McPherson’s corner exhorted their fighter to use his right hook more to and to pressure the less-experienced fighter.  Even though the opening for the right hook was there (McKinney kept his left low no matter what style he was fighting in) McPherson never threw it and wasn’t really able to mount any offense at all.
Chad McKinney lands a jab on Clifford McPherson as Ref Dave Smith looks on

By the fourth round McKinney was landing punches at will and walked away with a unanimous decision in his debut by sweeping all founds on the judges’ scorecards.

Adan Ortiz (Debut) vs. Ricky Lacefield (0-3-0)

Another Chicago fighter fighting in his first professional fight, Ortiz didn’t need four rounds to pick up his first win. Lacefield had shook off a couple of big punches earlier in the round, indicating that Ortiz couldn’t hurt him, however the fighter out of Lincoln, Nebraska ended up taking a knee at the 2:44 mark of the first and wasn’t able to answer referee Dave Smith’s ten-count and Ortiz had his knockout.

The punch that did the damage was a left hand that staggered Lacefield who dropped to his knees after Ortiz followed up with a glancing right hand.

Paul Littleton (2-0-0, 2 KOs) vs. Guy Packer (4-35-2, 1KO)

Following a 10-minute intermission the boxing resumed with up-and-coming Paul Littleton faced off against the experienced Guy Packer.  Packer had more than 40 professional fights coming into Friday night. Unfortunately for his career he lost 35 of them.

Littleton, coming off a first-round knock out last month, is building a fan base in Chicago and was clearly the better fighter. He won the first round by patiently waiting for his chances and landing solid punches when they presented themselves.  In the second round he would land a solid left to Packer’s gut that would end the fight at the 1:17 mark.  With cheers of “Paulie, Paulie” reigning down from the crowd the ref stopped the it and Littleton had the third win of his career.

Andrzej Fonfara (20-2-1, 11 Kos) vs. Byron Mitchell (29-9-1, (22 KOs)

For the USBO Light Heavyweight Championship

This was the main event of the evening, even if it wasn’t the last fight of the night.  Fonfara has a tremendously vocal following in Chicago, especially among its Polish population.  Mitchell, although on the downside of his career at the age of 38 was no slouch as he could claim two WBA Super Middleweight titles on his resume.

The crowd was in full voice during the playing of the Polish national anthem and during the introductions.  Rhythmic cries of “An-DRE FON-FAR-A” reigned down as the fighters were announced.

Once the bell rang, Fonfara didn’t disappoint his faithful followers.  He overwhelmed his elder opponent early and often. After the first three minute were up Mitchell would find himself on the canvas twice courtesy of powerful combinations from The Polish Prince.
Fonfara lands one of the numerous powershots he threw against Byron Mitchell

The second round was more of the same as Fonfara proved to be the quicker and stronger fighter.  He was able to work the body and the head, landing his punches at will against Mitchell.  The former champ tried to mount a bit of a rally and was able to land a few shots against Fonfara, but it wasn’t enough. With two rounds finished the only question remaining was how quickly Fonfara could finish his business.

In the end it would be Mitchell’s corner that decided their fighter had had enough.  After Mitchell weathered a minute of Fonfara’s combinations to start the third round they would throw the towel in.  When referee Celestino Ruiz didn’t see it (he was watching Mitchell hit the canvas) the downed fighter’s trainer would actually step into the ring to make his intentions known.  At the 1:03 mark Ruiz called a halt to the fight and Fonfara had his ninth straight victory, all of them by TKO or KO.

It’s an important time in 24-year-old’s career. He has won those 9 fights since having to forfeit a TKO against Skyler Thompson in 2009. However, his competition hasn’t been the top of the class. Nor has he traveled to take on opponent as 8 of the 9 fight have been at the UIC Pavillan.

If he wants to contend against the top light heavyweights like Antonio Tarver, Chad Dawson or the ageless Bernard Hopkins he’s going to have leave the Windy City and fight in hostile territory.  Does he have the talent to complete on that level?  That’s to be determined, but he has displayed the hand-speed and the power to be competitive.

His defense is still a little shaky.  Despite being outclassed for the entire fight, Mitchell was still able to find holes in the Polish fighter’s armor.  He just couldn’t take advantage of it.  Fonfara does look a more comfortable fighting at 175lbs then he did at the 160lb. weight that he fought at earlier in his career.  The added weight does let him absorb big punches easier.

It’s no secret that the Mitchell fight was a test.  If Fonfara had struggled against the former champ his chances of finding the big paydays on ESPN or on HBO and Showtime undercards would have dried up. Now that he has done what he has had to do it will be interesting to see who his next opponent (and where the location) will be.

Viktor Polyakov (11-0-0, 6 KOs) vs. Derrick Findley (18-7-0, 11 KO’s)

For the USBO Middleweight Championship

The final fight of the night (and billed as the co-main event) featured another fighter rebuilding his career in Polyakov and the last man to beat Fonfara in the ring in Findley.  After the raucous event that was the prior fight the Polyakov/Findley contest was a rather tame affair.

With the subdued crowd seemingly mildly interested in the outcome the two boxers traded punches for 10 rounds.  Polyakov was a hair faster on the exchanges allowing him to frustrate his more experienced opponent.  Findley, known for his power left hook never found the chance to land it and experienced his only success when he doubled up his right hook.

Unfortunately, Findley did not discover that combination until late in the 10th round and by then Polyakov was well on his way to a unanimous decision. Both fighters were evenly matched and despite landing fairly solid punches throughout the match neither showed signs of being hurt. Two judges scored the fight 99-91 for Polyakov while the third had it a bit closer at 96-94. I had the Ukrainian winning 97-93 on my unofficial card.  According to Findley’s promoter there was a rematch clause in the fight contract and it will be interesting to see if Findley invokes it as he was visibly upset with the decision after the fight.

It was another entertaining night of fighting for Dominic Pesoli’s 8 Count Productions.  Check into their website to see when their next event will be held.

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