Fonfara retires at 31, ending 12-year career

Boxing

Former two-time light heavyweight world title challenger Andrzej Fonfara has announced his retirement from boxing, withdrawing from a cruiserweight bout with Edwin Rodriguez in the process.

The 31-year-old Fonfara (30-5, 18 KOs) was due to fight fellow former title challenger Rodriguez (30-2, 20 KOs) in the 10-round co-feature of a Premier Boxing Champions card on Fox — which is scheduled to be headlined by welterweight world titleholder Shawn Porter’s mandatory defense against Yordenis Ugas — on March 9 at the Dignity Health Sports Park (formerly the StubHub Center), in Carson, California.

But Fonfara, a Poland native living in Chicago, where he became a big ticket seller in the Polish community and was involved in several exciting fights, said he has lost his zest for combat and decided to end his 12-year professional career.

“I’m fine physically, but I don’t have my usual desire to give boxing the 100 percent it deserves,” Fonfara said in a statement on Tuesday. “I want to thank all who helped me through this crazy, great ride.”

Fonfara made his pro debut in June 2006 in Poland and then moved to Chicago and had the rest of his fights in the United States except for three — two shots at then-light heavyweight world champion Adonis Stevenson in Stevenson’s hometown of Montreal in 2014 and 2017, and what turned out to be his final fight, a sixth-round knockout of former title challenger Ismayl Sillah in Warsaw, Poland, in June 2018.

Fonfara was a little-known fighter when he got the opportunity to challenge Stevenson for the first time. He gave him all he could handle in what turned out to be a competitive decision loss. Stevenson dominated the first seven rounds, including scoring two knockdowns and busting up Fonfara’s right eye. But Fonfara turned the tide in the eighth round and then dropped the champion with a clean right hand in the ninth round, bloodied his nose and had him in major trouble. Stevenson hung on for the victory, but Fonfara made a name for himself that night.

Two fights later, in April 2015, Fonfara scored his biggest win, knocking down former middleweight world titlist Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and laying a beating on him until he quit on his stool after the ninth round of a fight he was losing badly.

In his next fight, in October 2015, Fonfara scored another big victory, winning a unanimous decision against former light heavyweight world titlist Nathan Cleverly in a sensational action fight. Fonfara and Cleverly crushed multiple CompuBox light heavyweight records: most combined punches thrown (2,524), most combined punches landed (936), most individual punches thrown (Fonfara, 1,413) and most individual punches landed (Fonfara, 474). Cleverly landed 462 punches, second most in all of the fights CompuBox had tracked in the 175-pound division.

But in his next fight, Fonfara suffered an embarrassing upset loss when he got knocked out in the first round by Joe Smith Jr. in the main event of an NBC-televised card in prime time.

Fonfara rebounded to stop faded former light heavyweight world champion Chad Dawson in the 10th round of his next fight and then got a second chance to challenge Stevenson, who knocked him out in the second round. A year later, Fonfara moved up to cruiserweight to face Sillah and now is calling it quits.

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