Fonfara outworks Glen Johnson; Castillo stops Popoca in the 8th Rd
By Paul Strauss: Polish fans at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago wanted desperately to boo Glen "The Road Warrior" Johnson 51-17-2 (35). After all they are loyal to their local hero Andrzej (Andrew) Fonfara 22-2-0 (12) and they wanted him to know it. But, their boos lacked vigor. Even they found it difficult to boo someone as nice and well respected as Johnson, who is also fondly known as "The Gentleman". Instead, Fonfara fans would jump to their feet each time their loyal favorite would mount any kind of attack, letting him know they liked what they saw.
Article posted on 15.07.2012
What they saw was plenty of action. There were lots of punches thrown, with the balance tipping in Fonfara's favor. Each time Johnson would stop blocking shots and throw his own, Fonfara would use his head and return the favor, preventing Johnson from gaining any kind of control.
Amazingly neither fighter was marked up at the end of the ten round fight. Each man proved to have a good defense. Part of Fonfara's defense was the volume of punches he threw. Those many shots kept Johnson busy covering up. Fonfara got through with jabs thrown in rat-ta-tat fashion, plus looping right hands that got around behind Johnson's left glove. Every once in a while he shot one through the middle, but usually it would be high on Johnson's head, and not cause much in the way of physical damage.
Johnson landed several good jabs himself, and quite a few good body shots, but for the most part he couldn't land the big right up top; although, he did get through with a few glancing shots on more than one occasion. ESPN2 FNF Announcer Teddy Atlas used a not so flattering description of Fonfara, calling him a "pencil neck", wondering aloud if the kid would be able to take of punch. Fonfara proved he could.
Fonfara kept to the game plan, and that was to outwork Johnson, and pile up the points and )keep winning rounds. He used his height (6' 2") and reach (77") advantage some of the time, but more often he just flat out-worked Johnson, who is listed as 5' 11" with a 75" reach. It's hard to throw punches when you're busy blocking them, and that was often the story with Johnson.
There were times when Johnson would slip a shot and counter, mostly with a left hook to the body, or an attempted right hand counter to Fonfara's jab. Fonfara took the body shots well, and minimized the counter rights by doubling and tripling his jab, followed by his own looping right and left hook off the jab.
All in all, the twenty four year old Fonfara fought a smart fight against a very difficult forty three year old opponent. Johnson is like Bernard Hopkins in that nobody knocks him out, and he wasn't about to let this whippersnapper do it either. But, in doing so, he had to be on the defensive too much, which meant he was losing rounds and the fight. Johnson hoped the relatively inexperienced youngster might tire and then he would be able to get to him. Even though Fonfara had never been passed the sixth round, it didn't happen. The Polish star proved to be in good shape, and fought with poise and confidence. The judges saw him winning convincingly 97-93 (twice) and 99-91. This win is quite a feather in this youngster's cap.
In the prelim, Jose Luis "El Terrible" Castillo 64-11-1 (55) proved he still has plenty left in his 38 year old body. Ivan Popoca 15-2-1 (10) proved he has a big heart. He could have folded his tent early, after getting tagged with El Terrible's great left hook in the very first round. He wobbled all over the place for a while, as Castillo couldn't miss with a left hook, left uppercut combination. But, weather the storm he did, making it to the bell.
The second round was even worse. Ivan attempted to fight back, but in doing so, he allowed Castillo to time his right hand and step inside of it with his own left hook. Bam, right on the button, and down went Popoca. Surely he wouldn't get up this time. Wanna bet? Ivan's got heart. That's for sure.
In addition to heart, he has a few smarts as well, as he figured out which punch(s) was causing him the most trouble, and to combat it, he switched to the southpaw stance. That worked pretty well, until Castillo started landing right hands. That scenario might not have been quite as bad as getting hit with the left hook, but it wasn't much better. To make matters worse, Ivan came out of one of the many head clashes with a cut over his left eye. It bled a lot. Later in the fight, he also got cut over the right eye, presumably from a punch this time. That one bled a lot too, and before too long, Ivan's face was a bloody mess.
In fact, that's how the ringside physician described it "A Mess", but he also said the cuts seemed superficial and he allowed the action to continue. However, it became painfully obvious things weren't going to get any better for Ivan. He just didn't have the punching power to turn things around, and it didn't appear old man Castillo's legs were going to give out. Consequently, Referee Pete Podgorski took it upon himself to stop the fight at the end of the eighth round, explaining to Ivan's corner there wasn't much chance Ivan could win the fight, so it was pointless letting him continue to take punishment. By this time, Ivan's face was a crimson mask. Officially, it goes down as an 8th Round RTD for Castillo. Not bad for the veteran of many ring wars.
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