Joe Smith Jr. stunningly stops Andrzej Fonfara in the first round in Chicago

Joe Smith Jr. at Friday’s weigh-in/Photo courtesy of Nabeel Ahmad, Premier Boxing Champions

 

Andrzej Fonfara had something to say about Joe Smith Jr. in the days leading to their light heavyweight bout Saturday at UIC Pavilion in Chicago.

“I know he has a big punch, because he wins fights by knockout,” Fonfara said of Smith, who took a record of 21-1 and 17 knockouts into their bout. “But who has he knocked out? The guy who was a little bit better, Will Rosinsky, he went the distance (with Smith). He has heavy, wide punches and we will be ready for him.”

Famous last words.

Some of those heavy punches found the heavily favored Fonfara (28-4). He was sent crashing to the canvas twice in the first round, the second time ending the fight as Smith shockingly knocked out Fonfara with 28 seconds left.

The fight was televised by NBC.

Fonfara came in ranked as high as No. 2 by one of the four major governing bodies. Smith (22-1, 18 KOs), of Long Island, N.Y., was unranked, but figures to find his way into the rankings after this.

Fonfara, of Chicago via Poland, was fighting in front of his fans.

Rau’shee Warren of Cincinnati got revenge when he won a majority decision over Juan Carlos Payano of Miami via the Dominican Republic to take Payano’s bantamweight world title. Scores were 114-114 and 115-113, 115-113 in favor of Warren (14-1).

Payano (17-1) had made the first defense of his belt when he won a split-decision over Warren this past August in Winter Park, Fla.

 

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Keith Thurman recovered from his whiplash in a careful manner

Keith Thurman
Keith Thurman/Photo courtesy of Premier Boxing Champions
Keith “One Time” Thurman was supposed to defend his welterweight title against Shawn Porter on March 12, but Thurman was involved in a car accident that apparently was caused when Thurman’s new car began to hydroplane in wet conditions in his native Clearwater, Fla.
Thurman is healthy again, but he had to go about his rehabilitation for the whiplash he sustained in a careful manner.
“It’s six weeks before I could go back to the gym,” said Thurman, who will tangle with Porter on June 25 in the main event at Barclays Center in Brooklyn (on CBS). “And then, we just had to take it (in) increments as far as recovering, as far as working hard.
“Didn’t want to push my body too hard right away. Didn’t want to re-aggravate anything. Just listened to my doctors, stay doing my regular checkup routines. And we’re good to go.”
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Medical condition will prevent Abner Mares from fighting Jesus Cuellar

Abner Mares

Abner Mares/Photo courtesy of Premier Boxing Champions

 

Abner Mares of Hawaiian Gardens was really looking forward to his challenge to featherweight world champion Jesus Cuellar of Argentina. They were to tangle June 25 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn on the undercard of the Keith Thurman-Shawn Porter welterweight title fight (on CBS).

However, the bout was canceled Friday because Mares has an unspecified medical condition that will prevent him from fighting in the state of New York. DiBella Entertainment is the promoter for the Premier Boxing Champions presentation and it sent out a statement informing the media of the situation, while also making sure we knew that this medical condition is not life-threatening, nor does it have anything to do with performance-enhancing drugs.

The main event between Thurman and Porter will go on as scheduled and the Mares-Cuellar TV spot will be taken by another fight.

Mares has won titles in three weight classes.

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As usual, Abner Mares about to take on another top opponent – Jesus Cuellar

Abner Mares

Abner Mares/Photo courtesy of Premier Boxing Champions

 

Abner Mares has always been that fighter you want to see do well. He is never looking to fight a patsy. He wants to tangle with only the meanest hombres. It’s his credo.

“Definitely, definitely,” said Mares, of Hawaiian Gardens. “It will grab people’s attention and that’s the key point I want to make. I’m the type of fighter that wants to leave his career known as the fighter that never took an easy route and faced the tough fighters at their moment, at their times. And God willing, always came out on top.

“It’s not always going to be the same as my last fight. It was a great fight, a fight against Leo that I didn’t win, but I got the respect from people.”

Mares has a tough list of opponents adorning his ring record. In his most recent start, he lost a grueling 12-round decision to fellow Angeleno Leo Santa Cruz in a battle for a vacant featherweight title in August at Staples Center.

Mares, who has won titles in three weight classes, dusted himself off and has for the past several weeks been preparing himself for yet another top-line fighter by the name of Jesus Cuellar of Argentina. Mares (29-2-1, 15 KOs) on June 25 will challenge Cuellar (28-1, 21 KOs) for his featherweight world title at Barclays Center in Brooklyn (on CBS, 6 p.m. Pacific time).

This is a crossroads fight for Mares. At 30, he is getting to that age when a fighter in the lighter weights begins to show the wear and tear of many ring wars. Even though he distinguished himself respectfully enough against Santa Cruz, Mares changed trainers, going from Clemente Medina to Robert Garcia.

Mares wants to know what he has left, and apparently he believes the best way to find out is to take on champions.

“Well, definitely what I want to prove to myself is that I still belong in this level type of fight against top fighters such as Cuellar, Leo or any other top-flight featherweight,” Mares said.

“And I think the reason that, my two defeats, when you just go through them real quick, first-round knockout against Jhonny Gonzalez (in August 2013). It was just, he caught me cold.

“My fight against Leo Santa Cruz, it was a tough fight. We went 12 rounds, it was a candidate for Fight of the Year, where I gave it my all but at the end of the day, I think I fought the wrong game plan. I think I defeated myself by not following instructions and not fighting a perfect plan.”

Mares, an Artesia High graduate, is certain he still has the goods.

“I’ve got a lot more to give, I’m going to show (it),” he said. “Now with my new trainer and the new mindset that I have, I think I’m going to prove just that.”

But again, Mares is trying to prove he’s still elite against a hard-hitting southpaw world champion whose only loss came nearly five years ago. Cuellar spoke like this could quickly turn into a toe-to-toe slugfest, so he must have something up his sleeve.

“We’re going to come out,” Cuellar said. “We’ve been training for this fight and we’re doing it on our strategies. We’ve been working on them. For this fight, if the opportunity presents itself, we’re going to take the fight to him.”

 

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Deontay Wilder sings praises of Chris Arreola at Birmingham news conference

Deontay Wilder

Deontay Wilder/Photo courtesy of Premier Boxing Champions

 

Deontay Wilder was supposed to make the next defense of his heavyweight title against Alexander Povetkin on May 21 in Povetkin’s native Russia. But Povetkin tested positive for the banned substance meldonium, and that bout was canceled.

Wilder announced this week he will instead defend against Chris Arreola of Riverside on July 16 at Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Ala. (on Fox). Arreola has twice fought for a heavyweight title, being stopped inside the distance by Vitali Klitschko and Bermane Stiverne in 2009 and 2013, respectively.

Wilder couldn’t say enough about Arreola on Wednesday at a news conference in Birmingham.

“As you see, Chris Arreola stayed patient,” said Wilder, of Tuscaloosa, Ala. “You wonder why he continued to get title fights. It is his time. Some guys get chances after chances and some don’t. You can’t deny him. You can’t look past him. With the circumstances that we were facing, to come back and do a short notice-type fight, as far as looking for opponents, we knew it had to be the right person.

“Placing someone in a category doesn’t define who they are. We needed a fighter that would fit the description that he would fight with his heart, give it his all. I’m happy to introduce you to Chris Arreola. He is the perfect person for this opportunity. I don’t think there is anyone else who could take on this situation.”

Arreola (36-4-1, 31 KOs) knows the 6-foot-7, hard-hitting Wilder (36-0, 35 KOs) will be a difficult nut to crack.

“Deontay is a tough SOB,” said Arreola, 35. “An athlete has to be ready for that right hand and that jab. Be careful and be ready at all times.”

 

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Demetrius Andrade thought the world of the late Muhammad Ali

DemetriusAndrade4-1024x670

Demetrius Andrade/Photo courtesy of Banner Promotions

 

Junior middleweight Demtrius Andrade this past Saturday ran his record to 23-0 with 16 knockouts by decking Willie Nelson four times, eventually stopping Nelson in the 12th round at Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, N.Y.

A few days before the fight, Andrade was asked to talk about Muhammad Ali. By the time Andrade was done, it was easy to determine what he thought of Ali, who died June 3 at age 74.

“Muhammad Ali certainly shook the world, and not only in boxing,” Andrade said. “He was colorful; nobody talked like him. He helped boxers, too. Ali is the reason Floyd (Mayweather, Jr.) is who he is because Ali set the bar high.

“As an entertaining boxer, Ali brought blacks and whites together and later he spread the word about religion, culture and his other diverse interests.”
There was one more thing.
“What young boxer didn’t do the Ali Shuffle?” Andrade said. “I know I did, and taunted my opponents like him, too.”

Andrade, 28, is from Providence, R.I. He is a former WBO champion who was stripped of his belt for inactivity.

 

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Andrzej Fonfara not that impressed with Joe Smith Jr.’s knockout victims

Andrzej Fonfara

Andrzej Fonfara/Photo courtesy of Premier Boxing Champions

 

Joe Smith Jr. is 21-1 with 17 knockouts and proud owner of a knockout ratio of 77 percent. Apparently, Andrzej Fonfara is not all that impressed.

“I know he has a big punch, because he wins fights by knockout,” said Fonfara, who will take on Smith in the light heavyweight main event Saturday from UIC Pavilion in Chicago (on NBC, 5:30 p.m.). “But who has he knocked out? The guy who was a little bit better, Will Rosinsky, he went the distance (with Smith). He has heavy, wide punches and we will be ready for him.”

Smith, of Long Island, N.Y., wasn’t quite as direct at Thursday’s final news conference. He did predict victory,  however.

“Our styles are going to make for an exciting fight,” Smith said. “I expect a war, but I’m prepared for anything. All I know is, I’m going to end the night with my hand raised.”
Fonfara is from Chicago via Poland, so he’ll have the home-ring advantage.
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Dominic Breazeale, on June 25 challenge to heavyweight champ Anthony Joshua: ‘Whoever lands first is going to win’

Dominic Breazeale

Dominic Breazeale/Photo courtesy of Premier Boxing Champions

 

Dominic Breazeale of Alhambra is 17-0 with 15 knockouts. Heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua of England is 16-0 with 16 knockouts.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that their June 25 bout likely won’t go the distance.

“We’re two knockout artists, so whoever lands first is going to win,” Breazeale said Thursday after arriving in London, where he will challenge Joshua for his title at O2 Arena (on Showtime); Joshua grew up in Watford, Hertfordshire, about 17 miles from central London.

Breazeale, 30, intimated that as soon as he sees fit, he is going to attack Joshua with gusto.

“I am an opportunist and if I see an opportunity, I am going to take advantage of it,” said Breazeale, who boxed for Team USA in the 2012 London Games. “If he exposes something or shows a weakness of some sort, I plan to take advantage of it.”

 

 

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Staying true to his credo, Abner Mares in for a tough fight with Jesus Cuellar

Abner Mares

Abner Mares/Photo courtesy of Premier Boxing Champions

Abner Mares of Hawaiian Gardens has lost only two fights during what has been a fine career that has seen him win world titles in three weight classes. Those two losses – to Jhonny Gonzalez and Leo Santa Cruz – have come in his past five fights. Mares lost a majority decision to Santa Cruz this past August in a battle for a vacant featherweight world title.

That doesn’t mean Mares (29-2-1, 15 KOs) wants a soft touch so he can get back into the win column. One look at Mares’ ring record and one knows that’s not Mares. It’s therefore no surprise that Mares will next be challenging Jesus Cuellar (28-1, 21 KOs) of Argentina for his featherweight title June 25 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn (on CBS).

Mares only wants the hard fights.

“Definitely, definitely,” said Mares, 30. “It will grab people’s attention and that’s the key point I want to make. I’m the type of fighter that wants to leave his career known as the fighter that never took an easy route and faced the tough fighters at their moment, at their times. And God willing, always came out on top. It’s not always going to be the same as my last fight. It was a great fight, a fight against Leo that I didn’t win, but I got the respect from people.”

Mares and Cuellar will tangle underneath the welterweight title fight between Keith “One Time” Thurman and Shawn Porter.

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Juan Carlos Payano believes he’ll be even better against Rau’shee Warren

Juan Carlos Payano

Juan Carlos Payano/Photo courtesy of Premier Boxing Champions

 

Movie sequels often bomb, but rematches in boxing sometimes are better than the first fight. To that end, Juan Carlos Payano of Miami believes he is going to be even better than he was when he defended his bantamweight world title with a split-decision over Rau’shee Warren this past August.

Payano (17-0, 8 KOs) and Warren will square off again Saturday at UIC Pavilion in Chicago (on NBC, 5:30 p.m. Pacific time).

“I had a great training camp and everyone will see the improvements I’ve made since I fought Warren last August.” Payano said. “… I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on my strengths and weaknesses.  I’ve put in a lot of work during this training camp to better myself and I feel I’m at the top of my game right now.”
Payano, 32, delivered a warning.
“I’m going to leave everything in the ring on Saturday night,” said Payano, originally from the Dominican Republic. “I have the blueprint to beat Warren. I’ll be ready for war. There is no doubt in my mind that my hands will be raised in victory once again. Warren is in trouble.”
Warren, 29, of Cincinnati, is 13-1 with four knockouts.
Also on that card, light heavyweights Andrzej Fonfara (28-3, 16 KOs) of Poland and Joe Smith Jr. will square off in a 10-round bout. Smith, of Long Island, N.Y., is 21-1 with 17 knockouts.
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