The CBZ Newswire

Fonfara vs. Russell Highlights Exciting Windy City Fight Night 17

by on May.21, 2011, under Boxing News, Guest Columnists

Andrzej Fonfara (R) batters Anthony Russell's Body en route to vicotry

Andrzej Fonfara (R) batters Anthony Russell's body en route to victory

Report by Kerstin Broockmann

Photos by Scott Dray

CHICAGO, IL, May 20, 2011 – 8 Count Productions stormed the UIC Pavilion with an exciting evening of fights highlighted by an explosive bout between Andrzej “The Polish Prince” Fonfara and the durable Canadian Anthony Russell for the WBO and NABO Light Heavyweight titles. Other highlights of the stacked card included a messy Indiana showdown between Middleweights Josh Crouch and Keon Johnson; a rematch between Jaime Herrera (coming off his first loss) and Eric Draper, out to avenge his loss to Herrera in their first outing; and the Windy City Fight Night debut of undefeated Middleweight Ninos Abraham.

Juan Bustamante (L) and Jose Rivera trade punches inside

Juan Bustamante (L) and Jose Rivera trade punches inside

The first match of the evening marked the professional debut of Chicagoan Juan Bustamante (132 lbs.) in a Lightweight battle that would go the distance.  Facing him was scrappy Puerto Rican Jose “El Gallo” Rivera (130 lbs.), who did not come all the way from Ocala, Florida, to lose. Both boxers fought emotionally at times, with bad intentions evident in the hard exchanges. Rivera launched the first attack of the round, but Bustamante came back moments later, pushing Rivera back. The majority of the round was spent with both boxers fighting inside, launching punishing hooks to the body, most of which bounced off arms and elbows, to try to find a home for uppercuts and hooks to the head. Neither gave the other many opportunities to do so, but Bustamante was the busier of the two.

A rare break in the action, as Rivera (L) and Bustamante look for openings

A rare break in the action, as Rivera (L) and Bustamante look for openings

Round two found Rivera trying to stay outside…for a moment.  Then the two boxers went back to the inside game. Bustamante again forced Rivera back onto the ropes, though the Puerto Rican countered well, eventually regaining center ring. Rivera seemed to be trying to box outside, but his tight defense drew Bustamante inside, where he continued his attacks to the body, landing high when he saw a chance.

Bustamante (R) sneaks in an uppercut through Rivera's guard

Bustamante (R) sneaks in an uppercut through Rivera's guard

Round three started with some belated feeling out. Bustamante backed Rivera to the ropes on several occasions, where he redoubled his attack to Rivera’s ribs, when he could find a way past Rivera’s usually airtight defense. The last third of the round found Rivera trying to end things, backing Bustamante into the ropes and launching some hard hooks to the body and straight punches, which were deflected enough to avoid damage.

Rivera (L) and Bustamante exchange hooks

Rivera (L) and Bustamante exchange hooks

In the final round, Rivera and Bustamante settled into a boxing match, keeping at a distance and looking for moments to engage, with Rivera getting better of most of the exchanges. Rivera was the aggressor,  trying to back up Bustamante again, and succeeding repeatedly. Referee Gerald Scott chided Bustamante for pushing and using his elbow. Near end of round, Bustamante launched an effective attack, driving Rivera back, but Rivera recovered and countered at the bell, ending a close round that should have gone to Rivera.

Bustamante is declared the winner after a hard-fought battle

Bustamante is declared the winner after a hard-fought battle

Final scorecards read 40-36 twice and 39-37 once, to give Juan Bustamante the unanimous decision, though Rivera, now 0-3, acquitted himself well in the ring, and showed great grace and sportsmanship after the bout.

Coverson (R) closes, literally, on Garcia

Coverson (R) closes, literally, on Garcia

Next up, in a Junior Welterweight bout, was Holland, Michigan’s Johnny Garcia (6-0, 5 KO’s, 139 lbs.) looked to keep his win streak going against Detroit, Michigan’s Christopher “Too Sweet, Jr.” Coverson (3-1, 2 KO’s, 136 lbs.). The taller Garcia found himself under assault immediately at the bell, with Coverson launching himself across the ring. However, his momentum brought him too close to throw effective punches. Coverson continued to pressure Garcia throughout the round, though Garcia for the most part kept him at bay with straight punches. When Coverson got inside, he was able to throw some combinations, but usually found his attempts smothered. Garcia landed by far the more effective punches.

Coverson (R) looks to get in some short punches

Coverson (R) looks to counter an attack from Garcia

Round two saw another flying attack by Coverson. The frustrated Garcia threw him off, drawing a verbal warning from Referee Celestino Ruiz. In this round, Coverson was more effective in his attacks, finding his range a little better and landing some solid hooks and uppercuts. The pressure made it difficult for Garcia to stay at his range, but when he did so, his punches found their mark. Coverson’ s sheer aggression and punch volume may have earned him this round, but Garcia showed superior boxing ability.

Garcia (L) pursues Coverson

Garcia (L) pursues Coverson

Coverson tried to stay on top of Garcia again in round three, but Garcia used effective head movement to avoid, looking for his own opening while not letting Coverson get too close. Garcia finally found a way to launch an attack, countering Coverson’s rushes with uppercuts and then keeping him at the end of his reach with straight punches. He sent Coverson to the ropes with a cross followed by a hook to the body, and then moments later with a cross-hook combination on the other side of the ring. Once he went on the attack, Garcia landed hard punches throughout the round, showcasing a laser-accurate cross and vicious hooks to the body, but Coverson proved more durable than anticipated. It wasn’t pretty, but he lasted to the end of the round.

Garcia is declare the winner by TKO

Garcia is declared the winner by TKO

Apparently having sustained an injury to the ribs in round three, Coverson opted not to come out for the forth round, giving Garcia the victory by TKO at :01 of the fourth. Garcia remains unbeaten at 7-0, while Coverson falls to 3-2.

Keon Johnson (L) drives Josh Crouch back with an opening volley

Keon Johnson (L) drives Josh Crouch back with an opening volley

The third bout featured Indiana rivals Josh Crouch (159 lbs.) and Keon Johnson (160 lbs.) in a Middleweight bout scheduled for six rounds. Both boxers took center ring at the outset, with Johnson launching the first attack. Crouch held to avoid further blows as Johnson drove him into the corner, launching a counter-attack when he regained the center. A cross from Johnson again forced Crouch back, but he countered aggressively, pushing (sometimes literally) Johnson back in turn.  Soon thereafter, it appeared that Johnson was complaining of being hurt by a head butt. With Crouch often leading with his head, this was definitely a possibility, and referee Dave Smith frequently admonished the boxers to watch their heads throughout the duration of the bout. Neither boxer gave ground, but Johnson was the more aggressive, while Crouch landed some of the harder punches.

Crouch (R) comes inside Johnson's guard to attack the body

Crouch (R) comes inside Johnson's guard to attack the body

Crouch took the offensive in the second round, staying dead center in the ring, and driving Johnson to the ropes with his head and short punches when he saw the chance.  Johnson countered with a flurry to escape. Crouch stalked and pushed Johnson with his head to maintain the upper hand. Straight punches from Johnson would occasionally keep Crouch at bay, but were not powerful enough to cause damage to the hard-charging Crouch. Johnson held in the final third to avoid a hard body attack. Briefly, Johnson managed to turn the tables and get Crouch on the ropes but could not leverage enough power to keep him there. Crouch pushed/punched his way out, smothering Johnson. Referee Smith broke, after which  Crouch added one more punch to the volley. The action back and forth for the remainder of the round, though Crouch got the better of Johnson, keeping him  on the ropes by various means and landing a final cross just before the bell.

Johnson (R) doubles over as Crouch hooks to the body

Johnson (R) doubles over as Crouch hooks to the body

Crouch redoubled his efforts in round three, coming in head first, landing effective overhand rights after jabs and looping hooks.  Johnson tried to keep him out, but was clearly having difficulty with Crouch’s physical style. A huge cross from Crouch sent Johnson back on his heels, but he recovered his composure and threw some effective combinations with his back against the ropes, apparently having decided to stay there and under the circumstances. This strategy actually proved move effective against the high pressure Crouch, allowing Johnson to box rather than to spend all of his energy trying to keep Crouch at bay. A volley to the body from both sides ended the round.

Crouch (L) launches the final assault against Johnson

Crouch (L) launches the final assault against Johnson

Johnson did not stand a chance against the hard-charging Crouch at the top of the fourth round. After again pressuring Johnson back, Crouch landed a punishing jab-cross combination, which seemed to have Johnson momentarily hurt. Johnson retreated along the ropes only to be caught again with a left hook and right cross. A final short hook sent him to one knee. Though Johnson wanted to fight on, Referee Smith waved off the bout. Josh Crouch improves to 7-1 (7 KO’s) by TKO at :51 of round four.  Though showing off superior defensive technique, Johnson did not have enough power to withstand Crouch’s pressure fighting and falls to 8-5 (2 KO’s).

Ninos Abraham (R) looks for an opening against Cesar Martinez

Ninos Abraham (R) looks for an opening against Cesar Martinez

Ninos “Da Champ” Abraham (164 lbs.) made his Fight Night debut against 35-year-old South Bend, Indiana-based Michoacan native Cesar “El Gato” Martinez (163) in the fourth bout of the evening. At the top of the bout, Abraham rejected a proffered glove in favor of a hard left hook to Martinez’s head to start the action. The boxers traded hooks to head and body, with Abraham landing some crushing shots to the ribs. El Gato stayed in the action, responding with some sharp hooks to the head. Martinez crashed in on Abraham with a hook combination, which Abraham avoided by holding. Once outside again, Martinez threw a powerful straight right. Abraham ended the round strong, finishing with a sharp right hook to the head.

Martinez (L) moves inside while Abraham covers

Martinez (L) moves inside while Abraham covers

Abraham came out strong in round two, pressuring Martinez. Off balance, Martinez slipped to the canvas as he retreated, with Abraham sneaking in a hook as he went down. Abraham used judicious holding as Martinez went on the attack with a hook to the body. Moments later, Martinez again moved in, backing Abraham to the ropes, where he managed to clinch to avoid more blows before turning to get back to the center. Both boxers took turns throwing combinations for the rest of the round, backing out to look for opportunities. Abraham landed harder, more effective punches, and continuing to throw in the occasional punishing shots to the ribs, but Martinez would not be denied and kept getting in his shots as well, including the final assault of the round. Abraham took the round, based on more effective punches and his body attacks.

Martinez (R) dodges a blow from Abraham

Martinez (R) dodges a blow from Abraham

In round 3, Martinez kept his elbows in and threw straight punches, putting himself at the advantage at the beginning of the round, which was close. Both were intent on finding their shots, trading evenly, though Martinez peppered Abraham with more punches as the round progressed. Abraham’s power demanded respect, though, and Martinez felt this as well. Much of the round saw Martinez stalking Abraham, who circled the ring. Martinez took the round on punch volume and ring generalship.

Abraham (R) traps Martinez's arm as Martinez attacks

Abraham (R) traps Martinez's arm as Martinez attacks

The final round began with a ding of heads, which caused no real harm, but reminded the fighters to stay at range. Abraham knew he needed to be more aggressive, but Martinez was not slowing.  Martinez continued to attack, with Abraham holding when Martinez went to the body. Abraham abandoned the body attack that served him well in the earlier rounds. Martinez got inside and threw hooks with both hands, continuing to play the aggressor. Finding himself outside, Abraham tried to launch his own attack, throwing a series of straight punches, which Martinez eluded as he backed up and out of reach. Martinez was the busier fighter in this round, while Abraham seemed to fade a bit.

The fight looked to be even to this reporter, with Abraham taking the first two rounds on power and effective body shots and Martinez winning the latter rounds with punch volume and consistent aggression.  While the initial announcements had the victory going to Abraham by split decision, with judge Patrick Morley giving all rounds to Martinez, while Mauro Di Fiore and Jerry Jakubco scoring it 39-37 for Abraham, a recount of the scores led to a revision, and the bout goes into the books as a draw. Abraham’s record moves to 7-0-1, 2 KO’s, while Martinez manages to survive his latest outing at the UIC Pavilion and move to 1-3-1.

Eric Draper (R) attacks with a jab to Jaime Herrera's body

Eric Draper (R) attacks with a jab to Jaime Herrera's body

The fifth bout began after a short intermission, and featured Jaime (“Jimmy”) “The Truth Hurts” Herrera (149 lbs.) battling in a rematch against Indianapolis, Indiana’s Eric “Hard Work” Draper (147 lbs.) in a Welterweight bout scheduled for six rounds.  After touching gloves, Herrera nearly dropped Draper with a right hook. Draper regained his footing, but Referee Celestino Ruiz gave him an eight count nevertheless. Herrera used overhand rights to counter Draper as he went on the attack. The two boxers exchanged punches center ring, until Draper forced Herrera back with a cross, which he could not manage to capitalize on. As Herrera went on the attack, an awkward clinch nearly sent Draper through the ropes.

Draper finds extricates himself from the ropes as Herrera looks on

Draper extricates himself from the ropes as Herrera looks on

When he returned to the fight, Herrera again attacked, driving him back with an effective combination. Draper held to escape along the ropes, and in the process brought Herrera down on top of him. The round ended soon after the tangle.

Herrera and Draper go down as Herrera tries to escape a clinch

Herrera and Draper go down as Herrera tries to escape a clinch

Herrera came out jabbing in round two. Draper threw an effective counter-hook as he approached and the pattern was repeated several times. Draper was employing a fair amount of holding to aid his inside game, and Ruiz moved quickly to break the clinches. Herrera threw effectively when he stayed outside but got caught by hooks when he dropped his hands after punching. A hook to the body from Draper landed low, drawing a verbal warning from Ruiz while Herrera recovered. Herrera came back to drive Draper back in the final 30 seconds, nearly putting him down, but Draper managed to return fire and survive.

Draper (L) traps Herrera as he attacks

Draper (L) traps Herrera as he attacks

Round three found Herrera volleying shots to the head and body, while Draper again tried to hold to get the inside line. This time, Herrera’s head movement and footwork allowed him to avoid Draper’s attempts to punch and trap. A barrage of shots from Herrera sent Draper onto his heels; he stepped and fell, drawing a count.

Draper goes down after a combination

Draper goes down after a combination

Though Draper looked unhurt upon getting up, Ruiz thought enough damage had been done and waved off the bout at 1:03, giving Herrera the TKO victory. Herrera adds another win to his tally, bringing the final count to 6-1, 3 KO’s, while Draper again comes up short against Herrera and falls to 4-5, with one KO.

Herrera hears the official announcement of his win

Herrera hears the official announcement of his win

Next up was the Main Event of the evening, which lived up to its billing, featuring Chicago fan favorite Andrzej Fonfara returning home triumphant after his latest victory, a fourth round knockout of Ray Smith on April 9th on the Tomasz Adamek/Kevin McBride undercard, to battle Canadian Anthony Russell, now fighting out of Lafayette, Louisiana, for the vacant WBO and NABO Light Heavyweight titles. Russell, a decorated amateur and five-time Ontario Champion with a 16-2-1 (5 KO’s) record as a pro, entered to boo’s from the pro-Fonfara crowd, but seemed unfazed. Fonfara  entered to raucous applause and the accompaniment of a Polish rapper, who, while he could certainly lay down a beat, was unintelligible to this reporter.  The ring entrances were followed by the playing of the U.S. national anthem and the singing of the Polish national anthem.

Andrzej Fonfara (L) and Anthony Russell circle each other

Andrzej Fonfara (L) and Anthony Russell circle each other

Russell initiated the action in Round One by jabbing, drawing a hard cross from Fonfara. Russell then attacked Fonfara with some well-leveraged hooks to the body, with Fonfara coming over the top to attack his head. A hard cross to the body from Fonfara drove Russell back against the ropes. Russell punched out, and Fonfara slipped upon retreat. Standing up, Fonfara took a passive approach, looking for an opening.  Russell clinched as Fonfara again attacked. While Fonfara appeared to have power advantage, Russell demonstrated some power in his hooks, and countered well off his defense. Both boxers slugged it out at round’s end. The crowd is enjoying the fiery battle, especially since many of them came to see Fonfara, who took the round.

Russell lands a jab as Fonfara (R) moves to attack

Russell lands a jab as Fonfara (R) moves to attack

Russell looked a little tired at the beginning of round two, and Fonfara did not let him rest, attacking with a cross followed by a combination to the body. Russell returned fire but seemed tentative. Fonfara  covered against the onslaught, patiently looking for an opening. He found one, landing a right uppercut and a left hook that sent Russell to the canvas. Russell beat the count, but found himself pinned against the ropes again moments later, weathering a storm of punches. He found a way to fire back before clinching to regain the center for a moment until a volley of straight punches from Fonfara drove him across the ring. Russell kept his guard up to cover but still got caught, nevertheless managing to escape again to survive until the bell.

Fonfara (L) drives Russell back with body shots

Fonfara (L) drives Russell back with body shots

Russell  attempted to get inside Fonfara’s reach with his jab in round three, while Fonfara again went on the defensive, allowing Russell to launch a combination of ineffectual punches. A ceasefire allowed Fonfara to go on the attack with a hook to the body followed by a right cross. Russell rocked back on heels, but continued slugging. Both boxers exchanged punches, until  Fonfara landed a right hook to the body followed shortly by a short cross to the head. Fonfara teed off on Russell, who found himself just hanging on mid-round, before remembering his defense. Russell used head movement to evade further punishment but was too tired to mount an effective offense. Rocked again by a hard cross, he held, managing to catch Fonfara with a stiff right hand as Fonfara stepped back as the bell rang.

Russell (R) gets in a body shot

Russell (R) gets in a body shot

Russell was already breathing hard at the beginning of round four, while Fonfara looked relaxed, throwing a stiff jab, then driving Russsell back with a cross-hook combination to the body. Russell escaped, only to be driven to the ropes again. Russell was trying to stay in the fight, but was getting rocked by Fonfara, who was adding more punches to his combinations. The damage was clearly accumulating on Russell. Russell managed some good body shots after the midpoint, and began to use more footwork to keep out of range, buying himself some time. The last minute of the round showed both fighters in boxing mode, using footwork and head movement as they found openings, though no one landed consequential shots.

Russell (R) slips a jab from Fonfara to counter

Russell (R) slips a jab from Fonfara to counter

Fonfara again came on strong in round five, but Russell countered, having gained some confidence at the end of the previous round, showing good head movement and footwork. Fonfara was having more trouble finding telling shots, though still clearly the more powerful boxer. A counter left hook from Fonfara put Russell momentarily on the retreat, though he re-engaged quickly. Somehow, Russell withstood a series of punishing body shots and straight punches and continued to box. At the end of the round, Fonfara took the action decisively, repeatedly landing hooks to the body, mixing in devastating rights and peppering Russell with jabs, but the Canadian did not give in and still managed to get off a few punches of his own, mostly hooks to the body.

Fonfara (L) drives Russell to the ropes with a straight punch to the body

Fonfara (L) drives Russell to the ropes with a straight punch to the body

Russell tried to attack in round six, building on the moderate success he experienced in round five, but Fonfara kept him outside his effective range with jabs while looking for the big punch. Fonfara was content to jab and throw probing rights while waiting out Russell, who was not able to get enough power behind his punches under Fonfara’s strafing. A succession of left hooks from Fonfara signaled the beginning of the end. A series of unanswered hooks followed by an overhand right sent Russell to the ropes for the last time. Fonfara followed with a series of straight shots, with a left hook knocking Russell out on his feet.

Russell is unable to withstand the final onslaught from Fonfara

Russell is unable to withstand the final onslaught from Fonfara

Fonfara managed to land another cross-hook combination as his hapless opponent slumped down before being pulled away by referee Genaro Rodriguez.

Russell crumples to the canvas

Russell crumples to the canvas

“The Polish Prince” adds the WBO and NABO belts to his WBC Youth Middleweight title by way of knockout at 2:46 of Round 6. In the process, Fonfara moves to 18-2, with 9 KO’s, while Russell’s tally moves to 16-3-1. While Fonfara clearly dominated the action, Russell managed to land some telling shots of his own, leaving some marks on Fonfara’s face despite not having the power to keep out of harm’s way.

Fonfara celebrates his victory with his team, including 8 Count Promotions' Dominic Pesoli (Center)

Fonfara celebrates his victory with his team, including 8 Count Promotions' Dominic Pesoli (Center)

Luis “Sito” Santiago (148 lbs.), in the unenviable position of being in the last bout of the night, immediately following the main event, hoped to keep the momentum going after his successful debut in his second professional match, a Welterweight matchup against St. Louis, Missouri’s Chris Holloman (148 lbs.), who hoped to get into the win column with his second fight.

Luis Santiago jabs at Chris Holloman

Luis Santiago jabs at Chris Holloman

In front of a severely atrophied crowd, the boxers circled each other at the bell, with Santiago ending the faceoff first with a stiff jab. Santiago tried to work in, throwing solidly to Holloman’s head and body. Holloman went on the offensive, attempting to jab in, but without the commitment to do so. Santiago was able to put his weight behind his punches much better than Holloman, who resorted to rushing in, smothering his own punches in the process, but keeping Santiago from mounting an effective offense. Once Holloman was inside, both fighters tried to work, standing toe-to-toe and leaning in dangerously with their heads. Neither fighter managed to establish a discernable game plan in the first round, but Santiago was the more effective puncher.

Holloman (R) smothers Santiago's attack

Holloman (R) smothers Santiago's attack

Referee Dave Smith instructed both fighters to watch their heads before round two began.  Holloman attempted to smother and hold to keep Santiago from attacking, but Santiago managed to stay clear enough to mount an attack that earned Holloman’s respect. At the urging of his corner, Santiago started firing hard body shots, which soon have an impact. Santiago was bleeding from a cut above the left eye, probably due to a head butt. Holloman threw some solid crosses near round’s end, but used them to come to close to his opponent, which prevented both boxers from landing consequential punches.

Santiago attacks Holloman's body off a jab

Santiago attacks Holloman's body off a jab

In round three, Santiago did a better job of keeping Holloman at the end of his punches, while still slamming an occasional hook to the body. When he used his jab to set up combinations, Santiago demonstrated the makings of a formidable offense, but too often he rushed in too far, not concerned about finding his range. Holloman found some opportunities for effective counters as the round progressed.

Holloman (L) counters as Santiago covers

Holloman (L) counters as Santiago covers

In the final round Holloman began the attack, but Santiago countered more effectively. Santiago using his jab effectively in this round, but not following up with more punches, while Holloman repeatedly attempted to crash in, getting caught again and again. Holloman was hurt but still swinging in the second half of the round, and, while Santiago tries valiantly to put him down, he managed to survive until the bell. Final scorecards read 39-37, 40-36, all for Luis Santiago, whose record improves to 2-0, I KO, with the decision. Holloman will have to fight again to get into the win column, leaving the ring with a record of 0-2.

Santiago (L) has Holloman on the retreat

Santiago (L) has Holloman on the retreat

As in past Windy City Fight Nights, the evening showcased the efforts of a solid contender in Andrzej Fonfara, and the burgeoning skills of aspiring young professionals who tested their abilities against other boxers who brought different skills to the ring. The main event did not disappoint; while Fonfara dominated throughout the duration of the bout, Russell demonstrated enough skill to keep Fonfara from becoming complacent. The boxer/brawler matchup of Keon Johnson and Josh Crouch showcased the skills that have given both some success in the ring. While perhaps the beneficiary of an early stoppage, Jaime Herrera nevertheless proved that his first victory against the game Eric Draper was not a fluke by outboxing his opponent throughtout. The other undercard bouts also showcased some great style matchups and a lot of heart and sportsmanship.

Part of Andrzej Fonfara's cheering section

Part of Andrzej Fonfara's cheering section

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