By Sam Geraci at Ringside
Photos: Luke Buras/Team Fonfara
Chicago’s beloved Andrzej “The Polish Prince” Fonfara (23-2, 13 KOs) captured the IBO light heavyweight championship on Friday in front of a crowd of 4,224 at the UIC Pavilion by seventh round TKO after Tommy Karpency (21-4-1, 14 KOs) expressed that he no longer wanted to continue because of an injury to his right arm that resulted from a fall. At the time of the stoppage, Karpency was ahead 57-55 on two of the judges’ cards while Fonfara was leading 57-55 on the third.
After surviving two knockdowns and being seriously hurt in the first, Karpency battled back and appeared to have figured out Fonfara before the two became entangled in the seventh which caused Karpency to fall to the mat and injure his right arm.
To start the bout, Karpency stormed Fonfara with a barrage of punches, a strategy that he would try to employ at the start of every round except the second. Throughout the first, Karpency appeared to be holding his own by countering Fonfara’s jab with his right hook until Fonfara caught and floored him with a beautiful straight right counter. Fonfara floored Karpency again with another beautiful right and appeared to be on his way to a first round knockout, but Karpency was able to hold on to survive the round.
In the second, Fonfara came out looking to land his right for the knockout but in doing so he abandoned his jab and technique. As a result, Karpency found a home for his right hook and began to mix in lead lefts. Fonfara appeared to be winded by the end of the round.
In round three, Karpency stormed Fonfara for the first thirty seconds much like he did in the first. For most of the round, Fonfara tried to control the action with his jab and did so effectively at times, but Karpency’s ability to counter Fonfara’s jab with his right hook and his southpaw stance and athleticism appeared to confuse Fonfara, who appeared to be waiting to set a trap for Karpency. Fonfara was cut above the left eye at some point during the round, probably from a counter right hook.
Fonfara opened the fourth with a brilliant one-two combination, but Karpency controlled most of the first half of the round with his right hooks and ability to lunge in with the left to create opportunities for quick combinations. For the second half of the round, Fonfara walked down Karpency and landed an occasional jab while Karpency elected to dive in for an occasional lead left followed by the right hook. This was the closest round of the bout and could have gone either way, but Fonfara’s ring generalship appeared to carry the round.
At the start of the fifth, appearing to want to carry on the momentum that he built towards the last half of the fourth, Fonfara collided with Karpency at the center of the ring and approached the first thirty seconds with more determination in an attempt to match Karpency’s aggression and output. Overall, however, Karpency’s movement, outbursts, and ability to counter Fonfara’s jab, which was beginning to slow significantly, appeared to carry the round.
Throughout the sixth, Karpency countered Fonfara’s lazy jab with his right hook, and it became clear that Fonfara had no defense for a quick right hook thrown from the southpaw stance. While Fonfara did land several stiff jabs, on the whole, at this juncture, Karpency had Fonfara thinking and waiting too much while he dove in to score with quick combinations.
Ironically, the seventh round, which was by far Karpency’s best round, was the round in which he quit. For the first 45 seconds of the seventh, Karpency stormed Fonfara as he had done before. This time, however, Fonfara appeared to be hurt and did not punch back or get out of harm’s way. Instead, Fonfara was battered from one side of the ring to the other. In the midst of Karpency’s flurry, the two fighters became entangled and Karpency fell to the mat. While trying to rise from the mat, Karpency appeared to ask referee Podgorski for help and expressed that he could not move his right arm. At that point, the Podgorski asked Karpency if he wanted to continue and Karpency expressed that he did not. The bout was stopped and ruled at TKO at 57 seconds of the seventh round. At the time of the stoppage, Fightnews scored the bout 56-56.
After the bout, many at ringside were confused with the result and some expressed that Fonfara had committed a foul in throwing Karpency to the mat. Both fighters were given an opportunity to address the booing crowd after the ruling.
“He went crazy at the start of the seventh,” Fonfara said. “I saw before the start of the round that he was saying something to his corner like it was now or never. He tried to knock me out. He can’t. And so he quit. I think he was just looking for an excuse.”
“This wasn’t my first time getting dropped. I won just as many rounds as he did if not more. I had him hurt bad. We got tangled up and I fell down and hurt my right arm. I told the referee I couldn’t lift my arm, so he stopped the fight. I guess if you can’t lift your arm the referee has to stop the fight. I probably shouldn’t have said that.”
Fonfara also expressed that he injured his right hand in the second round.
In final bout of the undercard, welterweight Jaime Herrera (9-2, 4 KOs), one of Chicago’s more entertaining fighters, beat up previously unbeaten southpaw Patrick “Boss Man” Boozer (5-1, 2 KOs,) of Detroit, MI, en route to a unanimous decision with scores of 58-55, 59-54, and 60-53. Rounds one and two were close with Boozer effectively playing the role of the matador while Herrera plodded forward landing the harder shots. From the second half of the second round until the final bell, however, Herrera imposed his will and appeared to have Boozer in serious trouble throughout the third and sixth rounds. Patrick was clearly spent in the sixth and forced to hold in order to survive, which resulted in a point deduction.
Coming off a controversial draw with Darnel Wilson (9-1-3, 7 KOs) in a fight that most at ringside believed he pulled off, super middleweight Paul Littleton (5-0-1, 4 KOs) of Chicago, IL, rebounded to defeat Michael Williams (2-1, 2 KOs) of St. Louis, MS, by unanimous decision with one score of 58-56 and two scores of 59-55. Throughout the first round, Williams used his six-foot frame, power shots, and punch volume to overwhelm Littleton, who appeared uncharacteristically dull and shocked. In round two, however, Littleton’s boxing IQ and vast amateur background proved to be the difference as he made the proper adjustments to close the distance and turn the bout into a disciplined brawl. From round two on, with Littleton’s head in his chest, Williams was unable to land consistently because of his longer arms and was breathing heavily through his mouth which caused him to lose his mouth piece three times. With the exception of landing a few power shots in rounds three and four, Williams was completely ineffective and reduced to flailing around the ring in order to survive.
In the only heavyweight bout of the evening, 323-pound Ritchie “Silverback” Carmack (12-0, 10 KOs) knocked out veteran Carl “Iron Fist” Davis in the first round with a dynamic chopping right hand that sent Davis crashing to the canvas. The surprisingly quick-handed Carmack was able to absorb several stiff jabs from Davis in order to land his short counter rights. Carmack’s performance and confident demeanor during and after the bout brought the crowd to its feet.
In the first bout of the evening, welterweight Luis “Sito” Santiago (6-0, 1 KO) of Chicago, IL, muscled out a competitive unanimous decision over Robert Jones (8-11, 3 KOs) of Ann Arbor, MI, with one score of 58-56 and two scores of 59-55. Santiago outworked Jones throughout rounds one and two forcing him to back peddle on the defensive. In rounds three and four Jones found a home for the left hook because of Santiago’s tendency to keep his right hand low. Rounds five and six were close and probably could have gone either way, but the judges must have favored Santiago’s pressure and activity over the clean and more powerful shots of Jones.