Blood and Sweat Fly as Windy City Warriors Give their All
By Kerstin Broockmann
Photos by Scott Dray
CHICAGO, IL, January 29, 2010 – The cold and snow showers outside the UIC Pavilion could not lower the temperature inside, as fans were treated to a truly exciting evening of fights. With several luminaries on hand to witness the action, including former Lightweight Champion David Diaz, Alderwoman Dorothy Brown, Chicago Bears Defensive Lineman Alex Brown, and heavyweight David Latoria, whose scheduled bout was cancelled due to a pre-existing medical condition that prevented his opponent from entering the ring. It was a bloody, brutal night of boxing, with all the fighters showing plenty of heart and skill, from 50-plus fight veterans to 1-fight boxers hoping to kick-start their careers. There were boxers and brawlers, cerebral and visceral strategists, offensive aggressors and slick counterpunchers. While obviously the range of experience and styles meant that some bouts appealed to some tastes more than others, few could be disappointed by the overall quality of the evening’s battles.
Kenny Galarza vs. Ilido Manuel Julio
The evening kicked off with an entertaining bout by two boxers who traveled some distance to make their mark in Chicago, as Kenny Galarza, 142 lbs., 11(11)-0-0, of Juan Diaz, Puerto Rico, set out to keep the ”0″ in his loss column against durable, battle-tested veteran Ilido Manuel Julio, 141 lbs., 39(35)-16(7)-1, of Cartegena, Columbia.
The game 38-year-old Ilido Julio did his best to keep the pressure on his younger, taller opponent, lunging in to land some stinging punches through the center of 24-year-old Kenny Galarza’s guard, but he was a bit flat-footed in the first round, and found himself struggling to stand in the wake of Galarza’s combinations. Julio found himself down twice in the first round. The first time he appeared to lose his balance after an uppercut, which Galarza exploited by landing a hook as Julio fell to his knees. He was up quickly, but again fell after an uppercut later in the round—again appearing less hurt than off balance on impact. Galarza picked his shots from the outside, coming over the top of Julio’s somewhat low guard with straight punches, and using effective hooks to the body and uppercuts whenever Julio pushed the action.
In the second round, Julio began moving more effectively, staying on his toes and stymieing Galarza’s continued onslaught with head movement. However, Julio’s punches were starting to widen, and Galarza was now completely comfortable with his reach. A mid-round mutual cross saw both men take a few steps back. Galarza was throwing hook combinations over Julio’s guard, though Julio countered using his corner’s advice to fire por dentro, bloodying Galarza’s nose. A late-round hook-uppercut combination from Galarza appeared to rock Julio, who recovered to fight to the bell.
Julio appeared to tire a bit in the third round, while Galarza patiently waited for openings. Galarza kept Julio on the outside as the shorter man tried to walk him down and close with jabs followed by inside combinations. Julio’s strategy proved effective once early in the round, as he briefly forced Galarza to the ropes and threw a nice body-head inside combination. For the most part, Galarza picked apart Julio with straight punches from the outside, landing uppercuts every time Julio got into his range. A stunning left hook from Galarza late in the round again dropped Julio to the canvas, and this time it was a clear knockdown. Julio tried to get back in the game, throwing several wide, hard punches and initiating a punch-off that lasted a few shots after the bell.
Julio seemed to taunt Galarza as the two engaged in the fourth round. He found himself on the canvas again after coming inside and being turned rather roughly by Galarza, who used his head to spin him around, causing a loss of balance. Referee Gino Rodriguez reassured him that the fall was clearly a slip. Julio returned the favor shortly thereafter, appearing to turn Galarza by the shoulders, leaving him with his back to ring—Rodriguez intervened before Julio could connect with a shot to the back of Galarza’s head. The tone set, the less-exhausted Galarza got to work, keeping Julio at the end of his reach while driving him back to the ropes with straight punches and mixing it up with head and body shots once he got him pinned. Julio did his best to stay in the fight, but only got in a few single punches as Galarza continued to fire away, mostly unanswered but too tired to finish the fight by the bell. However, Ilido Julio’s corner made the decision to avoid more punishment, and Galarza won the hard-earned TKO at :01 of the fifth round of a bout scheduled for eight, improving his record to 12(12) -0.
David Laque vs. Robert Matthew Jaskierny
David Laque, 132.5 lbs., 1(1)-3(1), and Robert Jaskierny, 134.5lbs., 4(2)-2(1), proved that they are not afraid to take a punch in order to land a punch, fighting to a majority draw in a brutal four-round war that left both bloodied.
Bobby Jaskierny started out strong, staying on the outside and closing with crisp combinations to the head and body. David Laque seemed to have trouble finding his range and strategy, demonstrating some puzzling hand movement and landing shots erratically. It almost seemed as though Laque needed to work out some nervous energy.
The second round saw Laque finding openings as Jaskierny dropped his hands after throwing punches and held his guard lower throughout. Laque landed two crushing crosses in rapid succession, before Jaskierny got back to form, throwing several body-head combinations that had Laque backing up, before tagging Laque with a left hook-right uppercut combination that snapped his head back and following up with a cross-hook that seemed to rock Laque. Laque was not to be put down however, and resumed his strategy of landing occasional blasts whenever Jaskierny lowered his hands, which he did more as the round progressed.
Laque started the third round with his hands high, but leaving himself open for shots up the center, some of which Jaskierny offered up. Laque seemed in a hurry to turn the tide, seeming to push, not punch, Jaskierny back briefly against the ropes. Laque then started winging slightly wild, but definitely powerful hooks, which Jaskierny usually managed to avoid, stepping off and countering up the center with straight punches. However, Jaskierny got caught by four vicious left hooks in rapid succession, and, if they hadn’t been taped on, the gloves would have come off at this point. The round ended with a slug fest, both fighters shooting from the hip and landing repeatedly, with neither giving ground. Both fighters ended the round with faces smeared with blood, and noses requiring care from their corners.
In the fourth and final round, Jaskierny tried to return to a more conservative, measured approach, staying at the end of his range, throwing jabs followed by some effective body shots. Laque would have none of it, catching Jaskierny with a few hooks—and the battle was on again. A brief brawl followed by a clinch, was followed by…another brawl. For almost half the round, Laque and Jaskierny stood toe-to-toe and traded hard shots, hands down, in a war of attrition. Just before the final bell, Jaskierny appeared to be rocked by a solid left hook, that left him briefly leaning on Laque as the bell sounded salvation. The scorecards saw the fight even at 38-38 on two cards, while one judge saw the bout at 39-37 for Jaskierny. It was hard to disagree with the Majority Draw that was awarded to these two warriors. The bloody boxing gloves tattooed on Jaskierny’s back could be seen as prophetic on this evening.
Sergio Montes de Oca vs. Sergio Cristobal
The battle of cross-town rivals Sergio Montes de Oca and Sergio Cristobal, originally scheduled to take place on November 6, saw two young fighters with different styles but a lot of heart, and bright futures in the sport. In this case, the skull bandana that Sergio Cristobal ominously wore to enter the ring signaled his victory over Sergio Montes de Oca, who fought hard but could not get past Cristobal’s heavy hands to land enough effective punches of his own, despite a work rate that would have been sufficient in many a fight.
In the first round, Sergio Montes de Oca seemed to outbox the more aggressive Sergio Cristobal, putting together good combinations to body and head as he moved to avoid Cristobal’s hard but mostly outside punches. A hard right from Cristobal late in the round seemed to make an impression on Montes de Oca, but Montes de Oca maintained his composure and continued the combinations, landing a crunching cross late in the round.
The second round seemed to start in similar fashion, but Cristobal was finding ways of throwing Montes de Oca’s rhythm, tying him up on a close combination and throwing a nice uppercut as the fighters separated. Through much of the round, Montes de Oca was able to rely on his boxing skills to stay out of trouble, but Sergio Cristobal’s aggression was starting to make inroads. Cristobal also added some powerful straight punches to his arsenal, one of which bloodied de Montes de Oca’s nose in the latter half of the round.
Cristobal took the third round to Montes de Oca from the opening bell, initiating a rough exchange that he ultimately got the better of, once again bloodying de Montes de Oca’s nose. Getting more confident, Cristobal was landing multiple hooks and putting together hook-uppercut, body-uppercut combinations that de Montes had trouble countering. Montes de Oca found himself briefly on the ropes in the final seconds, but countered to get out quickly.
The combatants saluted each other by touching gloves to begin the final round. Cristobal was covering well, though still acting as the aggressor, putting together effective combinations. Montes de Oca was countering with shots up the center, and throwing some effective combinations to the body, but simply wasn’t getting off enough shots. By the end of the round, Montes de Oca’s nose was again bleeding and looking quite swollen, while Cristobal looked to have a cut under his left eye. The bout ended with a flurry of shots from both, as Gino Rodriguez launched himself between the two fighters at the bell. A brief, tense glare-down showed the intensity that had prevailed in this round. Scorecards read 37-39 twice for Cristobal, and 36-40 once, also for Cristobal, who evened his record at 1-1 with this unanimous decision, while giving Montes de Oca, now 3-1, his first professional loss.
Antonio Avila vs. Herbert Acevedo
In another four-round war between two young fighters, Chicagoan Antonio Avila, 134 lbs., 2(1)-0, squared off against Garden City, Kansas-based Herbert Acevedo, 134 lbs., 1(1)-0. Despite the presence in his corner of Chicago favorite son, lightweight champion David Diaz, Avila came up on the short end of a split decision, suffering his first professional loss.
The four-round battle saw Herbert Acevedo using his reach to try to keep Antonio Avila at bay while looking for openings for hooks and body shots. Avila pressed the action throughout, walking down Acevedo and using his superior power to pressure his taller foe.
In the first round, Avila started the action by working inside on a powerful jab and attacking Acevedo’s body. Catching the rangy Acevedo off-balance, Avila threw several effective hooks to the head. Acevedo stayed in the game, but telegraphed his punches, throwing just a bit too wide, allowing Avila to set the pace, and, in this writer’s opinion, land the more effective, powerful punches.
Acevedo began the second round trying to establish his range, working from the outside. Avila bloodied Acevedo’s nose with an uppercut landed after wading inside through some punches. Shortly thereafter, Acevedo launched Avila back into the ropes with a straight right leading to an exciting exchange that saw both moving and countering well. Acevedo seemed to tire a little, falling back on his heels as Avila continued to apply pressure with body-head combinations, staying inside Acevedo’s range. Moments before the bell, Acevedo scored with some powerful hooks to Avila’s head.
The third round saw Acevedo coming out strong and energetically only to have his momentum slowed considerably by a powerful inside jab-cross combination from Avila. Avila continued to walk down Acevedo, throwing combinations inside whenever Acevedo allowed him in range. Acevedo’s nose was bleeding pretty profusely, but he did not let this distract him, coming over Avila’s hands whenever his aggressive opponent got too carried away.
In the final round, Acevedo threw effective body-head combinations and managed to move away from and counter many of Avila’s attempts to redouble his attacks. Avila’s attacks, which had found purchase in the early rounds were avoided and countered by Acevedo in the final round. Acevedo began putting on the pressure, and succeeded in keeping Avila at bay while landing his most powerful shots of the bout. The bell found the combatants in a clinch initiated by Avila to forestall a final attack.
In the final analysis, two judges saw the bout at 37-39 for Acevedo, while one judge saw Avila winning by the same margin 39-37. This reporter would have agreed with the decision for Avila, based on work rate and aggression, but, in a fight this close, with two rounds up for grabs, the majority decision for Acevedo can definitely be considered a fair call. Congratulations to both combatants on a hard-fought, strategic battle, and to Herbert Acevedo, going back to Kansas with a win.
Achour Esho vs. Alexander L. Tousignant
Skokie-based Achour Esho, 145 lbs., 5(4)-0, seemed to come out to destroy Alexander L. Tousignant, Milwaukee, 142 lbs., 1(1)-1, as quickly as possible, and he achieved his goal. As the first bell sounded, Esho rushed from his corner, backing Tousignant into the ropes with a barrage of punches. Tousignant did not have any time to get his bearings to fire back. He did get himself off the ropes, and Esho gave him a little space to breathe. In fact, Esho faded out of range every time Tousignant tried to throw a punch at him. Throwing a somewhat wild cross, Tousignant found himself off balance and unprepared for another flurry, and fell onto referee Gino Reodriguez (getting more than his fair share of the action this evening). In regaining his footing, he found himself near the ropes, unable to avoid Esho’s next charge, lead by a right cross that had Tousignant leaning far back over the ropes. Another jab and cross had Tousignant on the canvas (though not before he got hit with a short left hook). Rodriguez waved off the fight, giving Esho the win by technical knockout at 1:11 of the first round.
Andrej Fonfara vs. Adan Francisco Leal
Chicago fan favorite Andrej Fonfara, 172 lbs., 12(3)-2(1), faced off against the gracious, but slightly overmatched Arizonan Adan “El Borrego” Leal, 170 lbs., 6(5)-1, in a light heavyweight bout scheduled for six rounds. Leal showed good sportsmanship and plenty of heart, as well as some impressive movement, but, while he landed some good combinations, he could not find the power to hurt Fonfara, or move enough to escape Fonfara’s greater reach and accuracy. After knocking Leal down in the third, Fonfara came out to finish the fight in the fourth, which he accomplished.
Fonfara started the fight finding targets over Leal’s low guard early in the fight, to the great delight of the large contingent of Polish fans in attendance, who continued their vocal support throughout the duration of the fight. Leal snuck inside using good head movement, and scored with a solid cross, which Fonfara countered with a hook. Leal continued to sneak shots up the center, with Fonfara trying to break his rhythm, first by tying him up, and then by anticipating assaults and countering with an extremely effective uppercut. Meanwhile, Fonfara spent most of the round firing jabs from the outside and patiently baiting Leal to attack and move the action forward.
Round Two saw Leal with a higher guard and following his jab inside. Fonfara became more and more effective at countering these advances with his uppercut, and a right uppercut-left hook combination. Leal’s aggression was beginning to subside as Fonfara let his hands go, landing body-head combinations as the round continued, though Leal’s movement interfered with some of his plans. Near the end of the round, Leal had enough of being pushed around and fired back with an effective body-head combination of his own.
Fonfara started the third round on the attack, staying at the end of his range as he drove Leal to the ropes and firing a few stinging combinations before backing off. Leal tried a combo, and landed a few punches in succession, but not with enough power to turn the tide. Fonfara began firing accurate straight punches from both hands that again had Leal moving backwards and bleeding from his nose, though he attempted a few counter-combinations. Eventually Fonfara drove him into his own corner with a barrage of body shots, multiple hooks to the head, and a cross that probably should have finished the fight. Leal crumpled in the corner, managing to struggle up again, as referee Gerald Scott checked to see if he wanted to continue. Leal checked with his corner for the affirmative, but there was no time to re-engage before the bell rang.
In Round Four, Leal demonstrated some impressive defensive movement, bobbing and weaving under Fonfara’s initial flurry of hooks. Unable to mount an offense, he succumbed to a sharp jab, followed closely by a series of hard hooks to the head and a cross that had him on the ropes and bleeding again. Recovering briefly to counter, it seemed Leal would escape the end one final time, but a short jab-hook followed by a powerful cross by Fonfara had him in trouble and Referee Gerald Scott stepped in to save him from further punishment at 2:38 of the fourth round. The supportive Chicago and Polish fans were delighted at this outcome and showed their pleasure in loud cheering, though all gave props to Leal for the heart he had showed in attempting to upset the hometown favorite. This technical knockout brings Fonfara’s record to 13(4)-2, and drops Leal to 6-2.
Harvey Jolly vs. Andrej Wawrzyk
Based on the records, this fight looked like it should have been an easy victory for 22-year-old Andrej Wawrzyk, from Krakow, Poland, making his U.S. debut at the UIC Pavilion, in an eight round heavyweight bout. Wawrzyk came into the fight with a record of 16(10)-0, in possession of the WBC Youth World Heavyweight title, and, at 230 pounds, a 27-pound weight advantage over his 33-year-old opponent, Harvey Jolly (of Nashville, TN), 203lbs., 10(5)-12(6)-1. However, the cagey Jolly proved an elusive target for the young Pole, and scored the only knockdown of the fight, dropping Warzyk with a right hook in the fourth round. Neither fighter could finish the fight, however. Throughout the fight, Jolly pressed the action, throwing multiple jabs to the body and head. Wawrzyk would occasionally counter with a sharp, painful jab, but spent most of the time looking for opportunities to throw his overhand right, which proved his most effective weapon. On several occasions, Jolly narrowly avoided being TKO’d by effectively tying up Wawrzyk or simply clinching to allow the fog to clear. He also deployed some slick defensive movement, using his left shoulder to effectively block many shots (which, unfortunately left him in a crouch that left him vulnerable to Wawrzyk’s right on occasion), as well as throwing a number of low blows, some of which could be ascribed to the height difference between the combatants, some of which looked deliberate. It was these tactics that may have influenced the judges’ decision when they awarded the controversial unanimous decision to Wawrzyk.
The first three rounds saw both fighters start tentatively. Harvey Jolly was clearly aware of the power that Wawrzyk could generate if he put his superior weight behind his punches. Andrej Wawrzyk seemed to have trouble figuring out how to deal with Jolly’s perpetual movement around the ring’s perimeter, and even the raucous support of the Polish fans in attendance shouting “Andrej” and something that may have meant “fight” in loud unison could not inspire him to risk a more aggressive strategy. Jolly initiated the action, sticking jabs and then popping back out of range. As he got more comfortable, he started mixing up his punches, mostly throwing snappy straight punches, but occasionally coming over Wawrzyk’s jab with a powerful overhand right when Wawrzyk got comfortable enough to start throwing punches. When Wawrzyk started mixing in body shots, he was able to engage Jolly more effectively, though Jolly responded by using his left shoulder as a shoulder. As the rounds progressed, both fighters started throwing occasional combinations, Jolly using his speed and body movement to keep Wawrzyk from countering effectively as he closed, and Wawrzyk driving Jolly into the ropes with jabs and the occasional but devastating overhand right.
The fourth round saw the action starting to heat up a bit, as Wawrzyk gained the confidence to put some pressure on Jolly. However, Jolly used this new tendency to find an opportunity to counter an attempted charge by Wawrzyk, dropping the larger man with a short, powerful right hook. After tasting this success, Jolly became the aggressor, throwing combinations to the Pole’s body and head while looking for another opportunity to throw another right hook, which he attempted unsuccessfully a few times. Unfortunately, in the mix of punches were a few egregious low blows, which did not escape the notice of the judges or referee Gino Rodriguez.
The fifth round picked up where the fourth left off, Jolly redoubling his efforts and applying more pressure with effective combinations, sprinkled with occasional low blows. This time, referee Rodriguez stopped the action briefly to warn Jolly not to pursue that strategy. Jolly managed to pull off another effective overhand right in this round, but did not succeed in sending his opponent to the canvas again. Meanwhile, Wawrzyk seemed to be figuring out how to more effectively penetrate Jolly’s defense. He was able to cut off the ring more effectively, and set up his own overhand right with a jab that would get Jolly to assume a defensive crouch behind his shoulder , over which Wawrzyk would drop his right fist. Wawrzyk was shifting his weight more effectively into his punches, and had Jolly on the ropes with a combination, a situation that Jolly escaped by tying up Wawrzyk and circling out. While Jolly’s work rate seemed higher, Wawrzyk landed the more effective punches.
In the sixth round, both fighters tried to gain the advantage, resulting in a mutual cross that stung both early in the round. By this time in the fight, Wawrzyk realized that he needed to apply just a little pressure to pin his mobile opponent on the ropes with combinations. One of these, a right cross-left hook combination, nearly put Jolly down, but he saved himself by grabbing a leg and clamoring back up to tie up his opponent once again. Referee Rodriguez separated the boxers, and Wawrzyk continued to pursue Jolly with jabs, followed by right hands when the opportunity presented itself.
The seventh round saw Jolly moving even more, speeding his progress around the perimeter of the ring and keeping Wawrzyk at bay with snappy jabs. Wawrzyk appeared frustrated by this tactic, at one point rushing in with several punches only to be tied up by Jolly before connecting with anything. Most of the round followed this template, though occasionally Wawrzyk would be able to close with a jab and a few overhand rights when Jolly ducked too low to avoid punches.
The eighth round followed the same pattern as round seven, though Wawrzyk was figuring out how to gauge Jolly’s speed to effectively slow his progress. When he came in, Jolly threw jabs and looked for another opportunity to finish the fight. Jolly’s movements grew more extreme—he ducked lower, and leaned back too far to avoid punches, allowing Wawrzyk some opportunities to land a few big right hands.
The scorecards were similar, with Wawrzyk winning on all by margins of 73-78, 73-79, and 74-79. The crowd was divided on their opinion of the decision, with loud cheering and booing greeting the announcement. Jolly could not contain his disgust with the outcome, addressing several of the judges about their error, and then complaining to the crowd assembled, “That is robbery.” While he told his opponent, “Good fight,” he clearly thought he had done enough to win, and he left the ring grumbling that he was tired of the “games.” This writer agreed that Jolly had done enough to earn the decision, but could see how the decision could go the other way, based on some of the tactics that Jolly used to offset his size disadvantage.
The evening ended in spectacular fashion with another knockout victory by the heavy-handed Donovan George, reported on in a previous report by Juan Allyon.