When top Light-Heavyweight contender Andrzej Fonfara challenged WBC Light-Heavyweight world champion Adonis Stevenson in May of this year, there may have been some who were not expecting Fonfara to have much of a chance against one of Boxing’s hottest rising stars, who entered the fight having knocked out his previous ten opponents. Fonfara however, would provide the champion with a stern test in putting forth a “Game” effort in defeat.
Despite suffering knockdowns in rounds one and five, Fonfara consistently pressed forward and would score his own knockdown of the champion in round nine in losing a hard fought twelve round unanimous decision. Although Fonfara did not come out of the fight with Stevenson as a world champion his stock definitely went up in terms of his standing as a contender in the Light-Heavyweight division.
The first step toward another world title shot for Fonfara will come when he returns to the ring on Saturday night against veteran contender Doudou Ngumbu at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago, Illinois. Ngumbu, a veteran of thirty-eight professional fights will be fighting for the first time in the United States.
Ngumbu will enter this fight having won four of his last five bouts. In his last fight in June Ngumbu scored a ten round unanimous decision over Johnny Muller. It will be interesting to see how Ngumbu will respond to not only fighting for the first time in the United States, but also fighting in Fonfara’s adopted hometown of Chicago where he has a sizable fan following.
It will also be interesting to see if Fonfara will be able to let his hands go more regularly in this fight than he was able to in the first half of his fight with Stevenson. As I stated in covering that fight, Fonfara’s difficulty in letting his hands go in the first half of that fight could likely have been attributed to both a respect for Stevenson’s punching power as well as his elusiveness and ability to control distance.
Although Ngumbu is not well known in the United States, he does have an awkward style in which he uses lateral movement and will likely look to control distance and keep Fonfara from getting in close where he can do damage. Ngumbu however, has not fought fighters who most would consider top contenders and this should be viewed as a step up in class for him against a fighter who is coming off of challenging for a world title.
Whether or not Ngumbu can utilize some of the tactics that were successful for Adonis Stevenson in his fight with Fonfara remains to be seen. For Fonfara however, this could be a fight that could lead to another opportunity at a world championship down the line. Even though Ngumbu is somewhat an enigma as this fight approaches, if he should win this fight it could catapult him into world title contention.
With much of the attention in regard to the Light-Heavyweight division being firmly focused on both the upcoming unification bout between IBF/WBA champion Bernard Hopkins and undefeated WBO champion Sergey Kovalev on November 8th, as well as the announcement earlier this week that Adonis Stevenson will defend his WBC championship against top contender Dmitry Sukhotsky on December 19th, it will be interesting to see if the winner of Fonfara-Ngumbu will be in position for a potential challenge for the winner of either of those two upcoming championship fights. An important element to remember as well is Bernard Hopkins has set his sights on completely unifying the Light-Heavyweight division and become the undisputed champion. It goes without saying however, that in Boxing one should expect the unexpected.
Although Andrzej Fonfara clearly established himself as a player in the Light-Heavyweight division with the spirited effort he put forth against Adonis Stevenson and might be expected by both fans and experts alike to win this fight against Ngumbu, anything can happen. If Andrzej Fonfara wins this fight it is logical to assume that he will be right back in line for a shot at a world title. It will be interesting however, to see if Doudou Ngumbu a fighter who is not well known can seize the opportunity to establish himself in his first fight in the United States. We will see who emerges victorious on Saturday night.
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