Backed by boisterous, Polish flag-waving fans Friday at U.S. Cellular Field, Chicago resident Andrzej Fonfara scored an epic victory.
Fonfara, a native of Poland, battled former world champion Gabriel Campillo of Spain in a 12-round IBF world title eliminator. Campillo dominated early with smooth movement and combination punching. The tide shifted in the ninth round, however, when Fonfara demolished Campillo with a barrage of punches. Campillo collapsed to the canvas and didn't get up.
The win makes Fonfara the No. 1-ranked contender for Bernard Hopkins' IBF light heavyweight world title. Fonfara will likely have to win one more bout before being named mandatory challenger, however.
"I'm happy about the No. 1 ranking. I'm a warrior; I fight until the end of the fight" Fonfara told ESPN's "Friday Night Fights" broadcaster Bernardo Osuna moments after the bout.
Fonfara said he was frustrated by Campillo.
"Campillo is very tough and he's very sneaky," Fonfara said. "Our tactic was pressure, pressure, pressure. It's easy to say but it's more difficult when you get in the ring."
Even though it wasn't a perfect performance, the 25-year-old plans to grow from this bout.
"I know my mistakes," he said. "I need to work more on my defense. I'm very critical of myself."
That said Fonfara, is still hopeful he will become another Chicago-based champion from Poland.
"I did my best. I beat Campillo; I knocked him out," he said. "This was my determination and this is what I want to be a world champion."
In other action Friday, Oak Lawn native Mike Mollo lost his rematch against Artur Szpilka, and Adrian Granados of Cicero knocked out Mark Salser.
“I tried my best," Mollo said. "He was the better man tonight.”
Bill Hillmann is a RedEye special contributor.
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