Six Fighters. Three Fights. One Man’s Opinion. A Look At Saturday Night’s Fight Card.

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FROM SHOWTIME BOXING ANALYST STEVE FARHOOD

Andrzej Fonfara is a fan-friendly TV fighter.

Have I just praised him or insulted him? Maybe a little of both.

Glass half-full: A TV fighter is someone who’s fun to watch. Aggressive. Capable of scoring KOs. Never in a bad fight. Certainly worth an hour of your viewing time.

Think Gabriel Rosado. Or Chris Arreola. Or Josesito Lopez.

Glass half-empty: A TV fighter gets hit more than he should, which usually prevents him from attaining championship-level status.

Think Gabriel Rosado. Or Chris Arreola. Or Josesito Lopez.

In his most recent bout, the 26-year-old Fonfara, 25-3, challenged WBC 175-pound titlist Adonis Stevenson in May on SHOWTIME®. The Polish light heavyweight was a 10-1 underdog, and when he went down twice in the first five rounds, the odds might as well have risen to 100-1. But Fonfara roared back to drop and almost stop the imposing Stevenson.

The challenger faded late and lost by unanimous decision, but made a name for himself in the process.

Glass half-full: It was a moral victory that significantly raised Fonfara’s stock. Now he was somebody.

Glass half-empty: There are no moral victories in boxing, nor any such thing as a good loss. A somebody could be anybody.

Whatever your perspective, Fonfara, who’s based in Chicago, returns home to face France-based Doudou Ngumbu of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Ngumbu, 33-5, is a road warrior who’s faced local fighters in the Ukraine, Poland, and South Africa, so the 32-year-old veteran is not likely to cower in his corner.

This time it’s Fonfara who’s the favorite (5-1), and his in-the-pocket style and reasonable punching power give him a sizable advantage. But Ngumbu is as awkward as his name, and he’s been stopped only once. If he lands his right hand often enough, he’ll trouble Fonfara.

Remember, Fonfara hits and gets hit. Add the fact that Polish fans might just top even Puerto Ricans and Mexicans as the most passionate in boxing and we’re looking at a lively and energized main event.

In other words, both a good live fight and a good TV fight.

Kameda

In the co-feature, WBO bantamweight titlist Tomoki Kameda returns to SHOWTIME after his one-punch KO win in July. (Remember, little guys can punch!) The Mexico-based Japanese 118-pounder will defend against a countryman of sorts, 28-year-old Alejandro Hernandez of Mexico City.

It’ll be Hernandez’s third try at a world title; he previously fought for championship belts at 112 and 115 pounds.

For a four-month period, Kameda and his brothers, Daiki and Koki, simultaneously held world titles. They are the only trio of brothers to have won world championships.

Kameda came to Mexico at age 15 because he wanted to be “different from his brothers.” His entire amateur career was fought in Mexico, and he lives there now. He’s known as “Mexicanito,” and his hook-to-the-body kayo of Pungluang Singyu on the undercard of the Canelo Alvarez-Erislandy Lara PPV was evidence that it’s not just a nickname of convenience.

The 23-year-old Kameda, 30-0, seems a complete package, with exceptional speed and eye-popping power. Having committed to fighting in the USA, he has an opportunity to do something unique: How many Japanese fighters have established themselves as championship-level stars in the West?

In Hernandez, who is 28-10-2, Kameda faces a veteran boxer-puncher who’s been tested by the likes of world titlists Leo Santa Cruz, Omar Narvaez and Marvin Sonsona. The Mexican, who’s a big underdog, will try to become the only current world champion with double-digit losses.

Hernandez is game (he’s been stopped only by Santa Cruz), but on paper, at least, he’s out of his depth.

The first televised fight will feature a 130-pounder who’s demanded attention for good reason: His one-punch power has produced several spectacular knockouts.

I called Javier Fortuna’s U.S. debut back in 2010, and his first-round wipeout of prospect Victor Valenzuela was nothing short of frightening. Since then, the southpaw Fortuna, 25-0-1, has also obliterated Yuandale Evans and Miguel Zamudio via first-round knockout.

Quality of opposition? Valenzuela, Evans, and Zamudio were a combined 49-1-1.

This’ll be the 25-year-old Fortuna’s fourth fight at 130 pounds. As was the case with junior lightweight titlist Rances Barthelemy on the most recent SHOWTIME boxing broadcast, Fortuna, a native of the Dominican Republic, has a precious opportunity to separate himself from the other top fighters in his underwhelming division.

For a pure puncher, all it takes is one timely performance…

Fortuna will take on Abner Cotto, who’s on a bit of a run. Last time out, Cotto, 18-2, outpointed former world title challenger Jerry Belmontes on the road in Corpus Christi. Before that, he lost a competitive decision to unbeaten top-10 contender Francisco Vargas.

Here’s the key: Fortuna often comes out of the blocks like Usain Bolt, while the 27-year-old Cotto has had his share of first-round issues. (In April 2013, Omar Figueroa blasted out Cotto in one round, and Belmontes hurt the Puerto Rican in the first round as well.) It’s imperative that Cotto extend the fight; Fortuna has scored only one stoppage past the fourth round.

The guess is that Fortuna has a bit too much of everything for Cotto. But the only thing I’ll be looking for is that put-away punch.

See you on Saturday!

Five Reasons I’d Rather Watch Bantamweights Than Heavyweights

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FROM SHOWTIME BOXING ANALYST STEVE FARHOOD

On Saturday, Nov. 1, WBO Bantamweight World Champion Tomoki Kameda will defend against Alejandro Hernandez on a special edition of SHOWTIME boxing (9 p.m. ET/PT, SHO).

Dating back to the sizzling and spectacular “Z Boys” (Carlos Zarate and Alfonso Zamora) in the ’70s, I’ve always favored bantams over the boxers of any other division.

Especially the heavyweight division. Here’s why:

  1. Have you ever seen a fat bantamweight? Heavyweights don’t have to make weight, and all too often, they use that as an excuse to train as if preparing for a Chocolate Sundae Eat-Off.

There are heavyweights with calves that weigh more than 118 pounds.

  1. Maybe there’s something wrong with me, but I like boxing for the action. Bantams deliver most of the time. Sure, there’s nothing like a heavyweight slugfest, but I dare to approximate that only one of every six or seven big-man bouts lives up to the hype.
  2. I’ve spent 36 years attempting to shatter the absurd myth that little guys can’t punch. When The Z Boys” clashed, Zarate was 45-0 with 44 KOs and Zamora was 29-0 with 29 KOs. Ruben Olivares scored KOs in 79 of his 89 wins. More recently, we’ve been treated to the tremendous 118-pound power of Tim Austin, Junior Jones, Nonito Donaire, Rafael Marquez, and many others. And if you have a short memory, Kameda’s SHOWTIME-televised KO of Pungluang Sor Singyu in July was produced by a single and hellacious hook to the body.
  3. In May 1954, world bantam champ Jimmy Carruthers defended against Thailand’s Chamroen Songkitrat outdoors in Bangkok. The bout was contested in a driving rain, and the boxers fought barefooted.

In February 1997, Oliver McCall cried throughout his heavyweight title bout vs. Lennox Lewis.

One has nothing to do with the other, but the bantamweight story is way cooler.

  1. Who would you rather hang out with: Jeff Fenech, Johnny Tapia, Leo Santa Cruz and Jorge Arce, or Sonny Liston, Andrew Golota, Ike Ibeabuchi and Mitch Green?

Well, I guess Chris Arreola wouldn’t be so bad…

Polish Power: A look at the five best Poland-born fighters of all-time

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FROM SHOWTIME BOXING ANALYST STEVE FARHOOD

On Saturday, Nov. 1, Poland’s Andrzej Fonfara will headline a SHOWTIME BOXING: Special Edition at UIC Pavilion in Chicago.

Fonfara proved his toughness in May, when he nearly upset defending WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson in Montreal.

In Chicago, Fonfara (25-3) will battle the Congo’s Doudou Ngumbu.

Poland’s boxing fans may just be the most passionate in boxing. And the fighters have been special, too. Here are the five best Poland-born fighters of all-time.

  1. Dariusz Michalczewski: Titlist at both light heavy and cruiserweight. Best known as being the second-best 175-pounder during Roy Jones’ reign, but went 48-2 and made 23 successful defenses of the WBO title, and that ain’t shabby. Defeated among others Hall of Famer Virgil Hill, Montell Griffin, and Graciano Rocchigiani.
  1. Tomasz Adamek: At 37 and still competing as heavyweight. Is 49-3. Reigned as world titlist at both light heavy and cruiserweight. In 2009, stopped countryman Andrew Golota in Lodz, Poland. Bout was billed “Poland’s Fight Of The Century,” and roughly 25 percent of country’s population watched on TV. Always undersized, but all heart, all the time.
  1. Krzysztof Wlodarczyk: Cruiserweight is 49-3-1 and has been mainstay in division for eight years. Just lost WBC title in September. Has beaten Steve Cunningham and Danny Green.

Question for Vanna: Why hasn’t this fighter’s name been used on “Wheel Of Fortune”?

  1. Andrew Golota: Where to begin? I’ll try the end: Heavyweight fought for presumably final time in 2013 at age 45. Was talented, enigmatic, and unpredictable. Was twice beating Riddick Bowe, only to be DQ’d in both fights for repeatedly punching low. Beat Tim Witherspoon, drew with Chris Byrd, was stopped in one round by Lennox Lewis, and fought to macabre no-contest with Mike Tyson. Went 41-9-1, and contended for the  better part of a dozen years.
  1. Pawel Wolak: All-action junior middleweight performed like a wind-up toy. Went 29-2-1 and fought for last time in 2011. In that same year, drew with Delvin Rodriguez in strong candidate for fight of year. Finished that memorable brawl with right eye hideously swollen and shut. Beat Yuri Foreman and lost close decision to Ishe Smith.

Weigh-In Photos: Barthelemy, Saucedo, Nelson, Martirosyan, Dawson, and Karpency Hit the Scales

Barthelemy vs. SaucedoPhotos: Amanda Kwok / SHOWTIME

Unheralded Barthelemy Ready for His Saturday Close-Up [CBSSports.com]

By Lyle Fitzsimmons | CBSSports.com
Rances Barthelemy isn’t just at his athletic apex.

Instead, the 28-year-old Cuban export insists he’s found even another gear as he enters the homestretch of preparation for this Saturday night’s main event gig on Showtime.

“Right now, I feel I’m in my ultimate prime,” he said, “and I can stay this way for a few more years before I see myself past my peak. There is always room for improvement in boxing. No punch or combination can ever be mastered. It’s a lifelong learning process.”

Read more online at CBSSports »

Tomoki Kameda Defends Against Alejandro Hernandez & The Return of Andrzej Fonfara – November 1st on SHOWTIME

Tomoki Kameda vs Pungluang Sor Singyu

Press Release
Undefeated WBO Bantamweight World Champion Tomoki “El Mexicanito” Kameda will make the third defense of his title against interim titlist and mandatory challenger Alejandro Hernandez on Saturday, Nov. 1, live on SHOWTIME® (9 p.m. ET/PT) in the co-feature of a SHOWTIME BOXING: Special Edition.

In the main event of the tripleheader, popular light heavyweight contender Andrzej “Chicago’s Polish Prince” Fonfara will return to his adopted hometown against experienced veteran Doudou Ngumbu in a 10-round light heavyweight showdown from UIC Pavilion at University of Illinois-Chicago.

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In the opening bout of the telecast, undefeated super featherweight contender and former Interim WBA Featherweight World Champion Javier Fortuna will take on twice-beaten Puerto Rican Abner Cotto in a 10-round super featherweight bout. The event, titled “The Homecoming,” is promoted by Warriors Boxing. Continue reading