By Przemek Garczarczyk
“How can I be cocky against Stevenson after losing the first fight?” asks light heavyweight contender Andrzej Fonfara. “Fighting against the world champion? With Virgil Hunter, we’re working on the best possible plan for June 3. Some pretty new stuff, but there’s also old school Plan B – just fight Stevenson rough and tough. He knows what that means.”
Fightnews.com® immediately interviewed Fonfara (29-4, 17 KO) after Showtime officially announced his WBC light heavyweight title fight against current champion Adonis Stevenson (28-1, 23 KO) on June 3 at the Bell Centre in Montreal.
For the last decade, we had countless conversations but I never asked you if you like to be a fighter.
Of course… but I’m not obsessed with my sport of choice. I like to watch fights, but not just anything on TV. I know boxers who are in this business just for money, but I will never comprehend how you can be a fighter without loving it. Just for money to go through all this grueling training and fight another man? Why am I doing it? Because there’s no better test of who you are.
Were you surprised how quickly you have another world title chance after your shocking loss to Joe Smith Jr, a fighter who most of the fans heard of for the first time when you fought him in Chicago?
Not really. I lost in the first round, yes. Happens to the best, but there’s much more to me than the couple of minutes of that fight. A very competitive bout against Stevenson, had him down. Knocking out Julio Chavez Jr in his backyard, in California. An unbelievable fight we had with current world champ Nathan Cleverly, a KO over Chad Dawson in the last round when my career was on the line. I also have to say thanks to Joe, because his spectacular KO over the maybe old but always tough to fight ring legend Bernard Hopkins helped me also.
And you never said no to any fight.
That’s another thing. People who are working with me know that I’m always ready to fight; you always get 100 percent from me and they know me as a person outside the ring. What you do between the ropes is, of course, most important, but sometimes helps to be a good human being.
After the Chad Dawson fight at Barclays Center, there was a short Fonfara family vacation, but your brother and manager Mark was already working on what’s next. It started with the Cleverly “let’s do it again” idea.
We wanted this fight because the first one in Chicago was a lot of fun. So many boxing records broken; non-stop action on both sides. And Nathan wanted the rematch. He’s a champion now, so I had no problem with flying to the UK but it went nowhere and we stopped pursuing the idea. It came back recently… but by then the Adonis Stevenson option was already on the table. I wanted to have another shot at him, of course, and I love rhe WBC green belt, the best belt in boxing.
I spoke recently with some fans and they said that you will lose to Stevenson not because you’re a lesser fighter but because you’re too confident, maybe even cocky.
Not true… 100 percent. I always was and will be confident because this is part of any sport – especially boxing. I did not underestimate Joe Smith jr either. We knew that Joe can hit. I just became too nonchalant in one exchange and forgot that we’re in the light heavyweight division where there is power and speed. How can I be cocky against Stevenson after losing the first fight? Fighting against the world champion? With Virgil Hunter, we’re working on the best possible plan for June 3. Some pretty new stuff, but there’s also old school Plan B – just fight Stevenson rough and tough. He knows what that means.
When I spoke with Virgil Hunter in New York, just after the Dawson fight, he said that everything – new, more precise offense, different defensive style – develops great, but this is still a work in progress. Three months later, you are fighting for a world championship.
We will find out how good I am now, won’t we? For me, this is the optimal time to do it. I went through more than two month training for southpaw Dawson, now we just have to continue our work for another southpaw. There’s no doubt that I’m feeling better in the gym, everything is going much smoother in California than when we started. This is not only my opinion.
You can help Andre Ward, who also works with Virgil Hunter get ready for Sergey Kovalev. Not sure Andre can help you prepare for a southpaw.
It will be up to Virgil. I will help Andre as much as I can.
Your first love is soccer. Your home team, Polish champion Legia Warszawa is not playing on June 3 but just happens that three years later, just like it was in 2014, you fighting Adonis Stevenson in Montreal, same venue and there’s Champions League final game. Will you find time to watch?
I remember that. I was watching Real Madrid – Atletico Madrid Champions League final in my hotel room. History repeats itself. With one significant correction – this time, I will leave Canada with a new, shiny WBC belt.