Thanks everyone for calling in. We’re talking about Fonfara versus Cleverly, Friday, October 16 from the UIC Pavilion in Chicago. It’s at 9 p.m. ET on Spike and I’m really looking forward to watching this fight. It’s an exciting fight in the light heavyweight division.
And on the phone with us now is Andrzej Fonfara. He’s a top light heavyweight contender. He’s coming off a brilliant performance in April with a fantastic win over Chávez Jr. Interestingly enough he’s a big fan favorite in Chicago. This will be his 14th fight, fighting at the UIC Pavilion. So fortunately for Mr. Cleverly, I do believe Mr. Fonfara will have the fans behind him.
Also on the phone is Sam Colonna, his trainer. I’m going to now just introduce Andrzej and, could you just say a couple words and tell us how your training’s going?
Yes. All camps go well. I’m staying a couple of weeks, three weeks in Houston. Rest of camp is here with Sam. I’m ready for the fight. I’m training hard like always for my fight. I’m ready for Cleverly. I’m ready even right now for a fight. Weight is good. My performances are really good and I feel ready. I can’t wait until October 16th.
Sam, if you have a minute, I’m going to ask you quickly how you’re comfortable with training and how things are going for your fighter:
Well, we’re taking this fight to another level. Looking back at the Chávez fight, this fight is so important. All the fights are important but this one is so important.
We know Cleverly can fight. He’s very clever in the ring. So we’re training a little different. We’re working on more speed, more combinations, more moving on our feet. I know this guy’s not going to stand in front of us like Chávez did.
So we’re taking this fight to another level. The training is going very well. Strong, we have four sparring partners for him and all of them are top-notch guys.
Okay, great. Also on the call, if you have any questions for him, is Leon Margules of Warriors Boxing. He is the promotor of this evening of boxing. There are still tickets available.
Hey Leon, how important in the big picture for fight fans who want to see this series come back to Chicago regularly is this fight?
Well I think it’s very important because Fonfara is the local guy and he’s the local favorite. This is his first A-side main event with the PBC and he’s the A-side in the main event in his home town.
So it’s very important on many levels but most important for Andrzej because if he has a significant crowd and support, he gets in a better bargaining position assuming he wins to bring the higher level opponents to him instead of his having to go to them. As an example, when he had to go to Montreal to fight Adonis Stevenson.
Andrzej, how much did the victory over Chávez raise your stock among casual fight fans do you think?
A lot. It was a very important fight for me with Chávez because Chávez, he has a big name. What he did and what his father did is well-known.
Everybody knows his father. He was the champion. And this was a very important fight for me. I’m ready to fight right now. I have more experience for this fight fight. Those fights show everybody knows I’m a better boxer right now.
This fight helped me go to the next level I can say. And now I’m ready for Cleverly. I was happy I won against Chávez and about my performance in this fight.
How exciting is it for all the fans that appreciate you here in Chicago to actually see a fight of this kind of magnitude here?
Of course, I’m happy I’m fighting with Cleverly. We chose him because he’s a top world-class fighter. And I need to fight like that right now. Cleverly’s a good fighter and I will show all my fans and people I can win the fight with guys like him.
I’m happy I’m fighting in Chicago. I will show all my supporters here and all my fans here I’ll win the fight October16th.
What challenges does he present for you that you haven’t seen before?
Well see in the ring what punches he’s got, when I see him in the ring. Right now I can say he’s a good technique boxer. That is good because I like to fight with a guy who has clear and has good techniques. I must show him in the ring I’m a better boxer and win the fight.
This is the fight. Everything happens the 16th. I’m ready for this fight, like I say. I’m training hard and I’m ready. I think I’ll win the fight.
What were your impressions of Stevenson’s fight against Karpency?
Karpency doesn’t have a good chin because when he fought with me I dropped him two times in the first round. And I almost finished him there but I broke my hand. That’s why I didn’t finish him.
I thought if Stevenson punched him hard, the fight would be over. But I think, you know, fight’s going to go a little bit longer, like three rounds, you know. Karpency, he’s not at this level yet.
You really want a rematch against Stevenson? What about a fight against Isaac Chilemba? Would you fight Artur Beterbiev?
Yes, I’m the type of boxer, I want to fight the best guys in the world here. And I want to fight everybody. My promoters can sit down, get the fight together and we can fight.
I always say yes. Promoters give me the fighter. Give me the contract and then we will show we aren’t scared of anybody. This the boxing. That’s why we fight, to get fights with the best guys in the world. And Chilemba, Beterbiev and Stevenson are the best ones.
We mentioned Stevenson because now I think I can win the fight and I want a rematch.
Hey Andrzej. I was wondering if you could tell everyone just the difference to you in training fight for a fight like Stevenson in Montreal and Chávez in California, where you’re opponent had the crowd as opposed to training for a fight where you now finally have the home town advantage in a big fight.
There is not a very big difference here than for the Stevenson and Chávez fights. I got comfortable because before Stevenson we spent like three or four weeks in California and we trained there.
Later, before Chávez, I spent two weeks in Houston. I did this again. I spent two weeks in Chicago then I flew to Houston for two weeks. Trained with Ed Jackson. Then I went back to Chicago and spent all the time here in sparring session.
Not real different between this situation. The only difference is in the technique but training conditions look the same. I felt much better before Chávez because, I’ve trained with Ed Jackson before, the first time before Chávez. I spent two weeks there, now I spent two weeks with him and I feel much better.
Do you feel at a point where you can’t sneak up on fighters anymore and actually everyone finally recognizes you as a top contender and therefore will train harder against you?
You know, fight after fight I’ve had more experience. Those two fights before I was a little bit of an underdog and I got good motivation. I still have much better motivation because now I’m fighting in Chicago. But this pressure motivates me to hard work and I feel good with that.
I’m ready for this fight. If you train hard and you feel good your performance will be there. I’m ready to show people in Chicago I can beat Cleverly.
Nathan Cleverly’s supposed to fight for a world championship against Juergen Braehmer. But he decided instead of fighting for World Championship, he decided to fight you.
If you can give me the answer, why you think he decided to do it. And Sam, if you could kind of add to whatever Andrzej’s going to say.
I can answer first. Really I’m thinking about his choice. He chose me and he’s coming here to fight me and he wants to win this fight and knock me out. This is what I think.
Second reason, I don’t know. Maybe, I’m more popular and he thinks it’s an easier fight with me? I don’t know, I don’t think like that. I think he came here to be shown on American T.V. I think so he made a huge mistake because I’ve prepared well and I want to win the fight.
Okay personally I think he got offered more money to fight in the U.S. and that’s why he chose to fight here. And second, I think that he thinks that in his mind, because we were offered to fight him a few years ago and we decided not to go that route. We decided to go and do our own thing.
So deep down inside they feel that they have something on Andrzej and they could possibly win the fight but that was a few years ago when they thought that. Now Andrzej’s a different boxer. He’s experienced. He’s sitting down on his punches more. They’re looking at a different animal here than they were a couple of years ago. So shame on him making that mistake.
We know Fonfara switched weight classes and that’s part of what led to his improvement but what caused Andrzej to be who he is today?
A lot of people didn’t believe in Andrzej and I kept telling everybody that would listen, this kid’s going to be a good fighter. Eventually he’s going to grow into himself.
His fighting in a lower weight class definitely prevented him from really coming out. Once he settled down at 178 and started maturing, he started punching better. And I believed that from day one and my predictions were right.
Now people finally see what I was saying five, six years ago.
Years ago you told me that you have to very closely choose the sparring partners because Andrzej hits a lot harder than a usual light heavyweight. If he hit hard then, how does he hit now?
Well I go in the ring with him and do pads and I feel sorry for his sparring partners because he punches through the pads. And that’s why the sparring partners, that’s why we have four because they only do two rounds and I switch them.
Two rounds and I switch them off every two rounds. I let no sparring partner stay in there more than two rounds at a time because I don’t want them, so he breaks them down and then we have no sparring partners.
So now we’re joined by Nathan Cleverly, former world champion. We are delighted that he’s come all the way to the United States to face Andrzej Fonfara. And we understand that Nathan, you arrived late last night to the states so we want to welcome you to America.
I’d just like you to talk a little bit about what you’re looking forward to in this fight and how you’re training in preparation for this fight. It’s a big night here in the United States for the Light Heavyweight Division. Again, it’s Friday, October 16 from the UIC Pavilion and live on PBC on Spike.
Thank you guys. It’s great to be here in Chicago. Thank you for the welcome. I’m glad that I’m finally here and I’m ready to fight. The training, the preparation has been done. I’m looking forward to the fight.
This is my third time in the States. My third fight in the States. I fought in Las Vegas a few years ago and then in L.A. a few years later where I defended my world title. Each occasion has been a fantastic experience.
I’ve loved every moment of it and I’m back and I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be a great fight, this one. Andrzej Fonfara, he’s got a good resume. He’s a good fighter. He’s strong. He’s powerful.
I want to get back to becoming world champion. I want to be world champion again. Fonfara, he’s in my way. So it’s going to be great fight next Friday night. I’m looking forward to it. It’s a big challenge. It’s on a big platform, PBC.
It’s a great, great opportunity and I can’t wait. And thank you guys for this opportunity.
Nathan, we just heard that you could have had a title fight. But you didn’t take that fight. You picked Andrzej Fonfara. Why’d you pick this fight?
This is true. I was presented with the opportunity to fight Juergen Braehmer in Germany for the WBA World Title. And I had my heart set on that fight. I was looking forward to that fight. It was a chance for me to become world champion again.
Then my promoter, he came back to me a few weeks later with the opportunity to fight Andrzej Fonfara in America, in Chicago. I took a few days to make a decision. I had my heart set on the world title fight against Braehmer.
Then suddenly I was presented with this fantastic opportunity to come to America on a big platform, PBC, and showcase in a big fight against Fonfara. So ultimately, I just feel fighting here in America on this big stage on PBC, I just feel it was too much of a big opportunity to turn away.
I declined the world title fight and I believe this is a bigger fight. It’s probably a more difficult fight but it’s on a bigger platform. It’s in the States and I like fighting here, so let’s do it.
What are the strengths and weaknesses of Fanfara?
The strengths and weaknesses? Well, he’s a good fighter. He’s got an excellent resume. He’s come off of some good wins. He’s fought a lot of world-class fighters.
So he’s a strong fighter. He looks to be in good shape in later rounds. He looks to have good fitness stamina levels while still punching hard late in the fight.
I don’t think there’s many weaknesses with Andrzej but what I can capitalize on I believe that my movement, I believe my speed and my punch variation, I believe the variety will give Fonfara problems. And I believe I can pull this off.
If you had the opportunity to get a rematch with Sergey Kovalev or Adonis Stevenson, who would you choose? Which fight would you want?
I think that’s the only type of fight that’s going to be available. You beat Fonfara, and you’re in the category then with Stevenson and Kovalev. I’m not sure if Kovalev is going to fight Andre Ward and where that leaves Stevenson.
I would just be happy to be in the ring with any of those guys, whoever. Just, let’s beat Fonfara. Let’s get through this fight. It’s a tough fight. But provided I get through this, then I’m in that elite mix and deal with the likes of Kovalev, Stevenson. Just toss a coin. Heads or tails and whoever it is, I’d be just happy to be challenging those guys.
For Andrzej, what are the strengths and weaknesses of Nathan Cleverly that you see from watching all his fights?
Like he said, he has an awkward style and he is a good counter-puncher. But now like all fighters, he’s got weaknesses and me too. And no weakness I want to show them in the fight. You never know what happens in a fight. You go in a fight and you’re fighting and then you see his weakness.
I think I’m physically stronger. I want to use technique. He thinks he’s better and we’ll see everything in the ring. He wants to prove he’s better. I want to prove I’m strong and better. We’ll see what happens.
I’m glad Nathan is here a little bit earlier and not a couple of days before the fight because he must get acclimatized. I’m happy he’s here and he’ll be ready for the fight.
Andrzej, if you win this fight, do you feel to get another shot at a world title and do you have to make a statement and get a very dominating victory in it?
I feel this is the next step in my career because Nathan, he’s a very good fighter. He’s got a lot of experience. He fights a lot of good guys. He was a world champion. He’s got good defense. I need fights like that if I want to be world champion. That’s why we chose him and he chose us.
I think he’s one of the best fighters to fight and I want to win the fight. That’s it.
Sam, how much of an improvement has Andrzej made since the Stevenson fight. It’s only been, a year-and-a-half or so but how much of an improvement has he shown since that fight?
Well, I think mentally that’s what he needed, a fight like that to show himself that he could be right in the elite level that he’s meeting right now. A fight like that, he went the distance. He dropped the guy in the later rounds. He could have stopped him. He was like three seconds from stopping him.
Then he turns around and fights Chavez and looks good. I think he’s mentally improved, mentally at the next level where he has to be at.
Nathan, you’re going to the home city of your opponent. Tell us how that’s going to affect you? How do you feel about that?
It’s a great challenge. It’s a really great challenge. I’m in this fight thing for challenges, to fight the best fighters and to put myself on the big stage. If you want to be on the big stage, if you want to be involved in big fights, you’ve got to deal with these circumstances.
You’ve got to deal with the pressure of fighting in your opponent’s hometown and you’ve got to be able to perform under these pressures. It’s a challenge but it’s one I’m going to take on. It’s what I’m looking forward to. I’m excited by it as a champion, if I want to be a champion, I’ve got to perform in the hometown of the opponent and it’s exciting.
Nathan, I just wanted to talk about your brief trip to cruiserweight. How do you felt about that brief trip moving up from light heavyweight to cruiserweight and about the decision of moving back down to light heavyweight?
Yes, I moved to cruiserweight. It was maybe a calculated gamble. It was a slight risk. You know, I’d lost my world title against Sergey Kovalev and then I was looking for the next big fight. I wanted to be involved in a bit fight straightaway and it was the available option was with Tony Bellew from the U.K. who was moving up to cruiserweight.
That was quite a big fight in the U.K. because we had a big rivalry. So I’d done a lot of training. I’d done a lot of weight training to pump into the cruiserweight division. But it was quite difficult putting on all that weight and putting on all that muscle mass.
It was an enjoyable challenge. I enjoyed the training, But I just felt against the bigger guys, against the bigger cruiserweight heavyweight. Or I didn’t feel as fit.
It was a matter of just coming back down to light heavyweight. I’m okay. I can make the weight okay. And it’s my proper weight. It’s my true weight. And we’re back where I belong and we’re back in a big fight against Andrzej Fonfara. It’s going to be a good fight.
Nathan, you defended your title five times. Could you rank Fonfara among the fighter’s you fought?
I would have to say if I were being honest and realistic, I would say Andrzej Fonfara is probably going to be my toughest fight to-date. This will be my toughest fight. I think apart from Sergey Kovalev, I think Andrzej Fanfara is probably going to be the toughest. You know, his resume. His recent performances, he’s looked good. So, yes, this is my toughest fight.
But I’ve prepared well for this fight. I’m looking forward to it. I just think the winner of this fight, it’s the gateway to the elite fights with Stevenson and Kovalev. This is the kind of eliminator for those fights.
Are you expecting a good turnout from the UK at UIC on 16th?
Yes, there’s a few guys coming over. You know I’ve got quite a good fan base back home. They supported me for a lot of fights, friends and just general fighting fanatics. They know this is a good fight and it’s a chance for those guys to come to America to enjoy the experience, to watch a good boxing event. It’s a good trip for those guys.
So yes, it’s going to be loud and there’s going to be quite a lot of support for myself so I’m grateful for those guys and I’ll see them on fight night.