The Defense Rests: Fonfara Decisions Cleverly

By Robert Ecksel on October 16, 2015
The Defense Rests: Fonfara Decisions Cleverly
Many people thought, incorrectly, that Nathan Cleverly was shot (David Earnisse/PBC)

Andrzej Fonfara decisioned former WBO light heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverly after 12 rounds of nonstop action…

Friday night at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago, Illinois, in a fight televised live on Spike TV, light heavyweight contender Andrzej Fonfara (28-3, 16 KOs), from Chicago by way of Warsaw, Poland, ranked #2 by the WBC, decisioned former WBO light heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverly (29-3, 15 KOs) from Cefn Fforest, Wales, United Kingdom, after 12 rounds of nonstop action.

The final scores were 115-113 and 116-112 twice.

Fighting out of the blue corner in red and gold trunks, the “Polish Prince” faced a more formidable challenge than he or anyone else expected. Many people thought, incorrectly as it turned out, that his opponent was shot. But if he wasn’t shot before the fight, he might be shot now.

Cleverly, fighting out of the red corner, in red trunks with white trim, turned down a title fight to get it on with Fonfara. He thought he could win, and he often fought like he could win. All that stood in the way was a slightly younger and considerably fresher fighter.

The Welshman won the first three rounds. Fighting off the jab and landing combinations, he made the straight up Fonfara look painfully slow and no less painfully imaginative.

Fonfara began closing the gap in rounds four through six, and closed it for good in round seven when he broke Cleverly’s nose, which bled throughout the fight, cut his left ear, which bled throughout the fight, and bloodied his mouth, which bled throughout the fight.

Although he looked a mess and had ceded the upper hand to Fonfara, Cleverly to his credit continued to fight. He and Fonfara, both of whom dispensed with defense when the contract was signed, threw more punches than even CompuBox could count. Their totals, give or take a few dozen punches either way, established a new record for light heavyweight fights.

Fonfara landed 474 of 1413 total punches thrown to Cleverly’s 462 of 1111.

In the power punch department, Fonfara landed 395 of 746 to Cleverly’s 310 of 597.

It was a war. It was a slugfest. It was primordial. The fight has already been christened, by those inclined to christen, an “instant classic.” Judging by the ring, gloves, and a general adherence to the Marquess of Queensberry Rules, it might even have been boxing, except for the fact that it less resembled the sweet science, the so-called “gentlemanly art of self defense,” than it resembled a toughman contest where skill, at least as we know it, was at best an afterthought.

There was no feinting. There was no bobbing and weaving. There was no footwork. There was no guile. There was no defense.

It was a fight to determine who could take the most punishment and still remain standing.

There is something to be said for a fight of this sort. The resilience displayed by Fonfara and Cleverly deserves our praise. It is as seductive in its way as Darwinism refracted through fleeting flesh and blood. But as much as we might yearn for Gatti-Ward redux, it is not only possible, it is essential to celebrate elevated skills, if only to offset our rudimentary impulses.

“Cleverly has a great chin,” said Fonfara after the bout. “He’s a great fighter. He was taking a lot of punches and not breaking down. He still wanted to go forward and fight. He believed he could win until the very end. I had no idea he could take so many punches and still be in the fight. I respect him very much.”

The respect is mutual.

“It was a fantastic fight,” said Cleverly. “It was a war from the very first bell and I am not surprised that it broke the records for the most punches thrown because when we started we just didn’t stop. Would I do it again? Why not? It’s what we are here to do.”

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  1. KB 12:51pm, 10/17/2015

    Cleverly gains respect even with the loss. Solid fighter with monster heart.

  2. Clarence George 02:25am, 10/17/2015

    Although I thought Fonfara would beat Cleverly, and by unanimous decision, I didn’t expect it to be so competitive.  More specifically, I didn’t expect Cleverly to be so competitive.  Good as the fight was, Kono-Kameda was even better, a bout almost ruined by the godawful Celestino Ruiz.  Where did they find this guy, a bus depot?  As bad as Laurence Cole?  Worse?  He should never again disgrace any ring with his presence.  Lost in the shuffle was Monaghan-George.  Not a great fight, as the former is no more than all right and the latter has been pretty much finished for years, but George amply demonstrated his known-for guts by fighting with a broken right hand.  “Da Bomb” was my favorite fighter a few years ago.  It’s too bad he didn’t wind up with a more impressive career.

  3. SweetScience 12:28am, 10/17/2015

    Thank goodness for the ref change in the fonfara/cleverly chapter of friday bloody friday eh? The floor referee, and the boxing commisioner both had to give ruiz a bit of a slap to wake him up before turning the spectacle onto himself, other than the honorable men offering their physical well being for us.
    We are not here to watch you, sir.

    And to all my true boxing fan-friends that ive grown to look forward to reading your comments after each matchup…
    Knowing u will all know the immortal words once declared during a fight we all hold dear… “There is NO pretense of defense…”
    And that being in a good way.
    Hope this kicks off the fireworks for tomorrow’s GOLOVKIN//LEMIEUX fistucuffs tomorrow! A PPV in which i will be purchasing! In honor of the first step into a new era of boxers to actually support n ppv’s!!!

  4. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 08:49pm, 10/16/2015

    Casper the Unfriendly Ghost tried his damnedest to ruin what was an all out war in the co-feature. Unless I heard wrong an official at ringside pleaded with whack job Ruiz not to screw things up further by stopping the fight.

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