(left to right: Giacobbe Fragomeni, Krzysztof Wlodarczyk, Andrzej Fonfara, Samuel Miller; courtesy 8 Count Productions/Warriors Boxing)
Cruiserweight Krzysztof Wlodarczyk and light heavyweight Andrzej Fonfara did Warsaw proud Saturday in showcase fights in the unofficial Polish capital of the United States, Chicago. Both scored knockouts in bouts that streamed on ESPN3, although it must be noted right off the bat that neither opponent was expected to do much more than lose.
In the main event, Wlodarczyk won his trilogy bout with Giacobbe Fragomeni in a threesome nobody really requested, but you can forgive him a little bit since he has only taken tough fights since 2011. The first Fragomeni fight was a draw, the second one a conclusive TKO for Wlodarczyk back in 2010. If Fragomeni had done much since then you could make a case for part III with Wlodarczyk, but he's 44 and last year drew with fellow elderly fighter Silvio Branco and then "avenged" that encounter with a split decision in a rematch. From the start, it was evident Fragomeni had boxing know-how but not the physical wherewithal to win, as Wlodarczyk easily outclassed him. In the 4th, Wlodarczyk somewhat shadily but not illegally popped Fragomeni in a clinch where he had one arm draped over the back of his head, and Fragomeni went down with a deep cut under his left eye. He survived another couple rounds before the doctor recommended stopping the fight after the 6th due to a cut that didn't evidently require a stoppage — it was under his eye and didn't seem to suggest dangerous damage — but maybe the doctor saw something we didn't.
Because the two top men at cruiserweight, Marco Huck and Yoan Pablo Hernandez, share the same trainer/promoter and that team doesn't want them to fight, Wlodarczyk makes the best available meritorious opponent for either. Wlodarczyk's big Polish following and the German audience for the other two means either bout could be appealing financially in Europe, too. If America had a top cruiserweight, maybe this Chicago showcase could build something here. America does not have a top cruiserweight.
The other big name Pole on the undercard, Fonfara, had even less trouble with his man, the even less qualified Samuel Miller. Miller brought a high KO percentage into the match-up (23 knockouts in 26 wins) and little else. His balance was comical, and he had exactly zero wins of note; the best mark on his record was a majority decision loss to Brian Vera back in 2007, but he had lost to Marco Antonio Rubio and David Lopez in the only other match-ups of significance outside of his birth country of Colombia. Fonfara nearly walloped Miller between the ropes in the 1st round, and was inspired by a deliberate-looking rabbit punch from Miller to instantly thereafter catch him with a mean left hook that ended matters. Fonfara is coming off the best win of his career over Gabriel Campillo and is now in a position for a bout on HBO or Showtime — he's next in line because of alphabet belt positioning to face Bernard Hopkins, who battles on Showtime, but would also make an appealing foe for Sergey Kovalev, who battles on HBO. Either will do, although the match-up with Kovalev figures to be more fun on paper.
Speaking of fun: Col. Bob Sheridan and Benny Ricardo, always great for unintentional comedy, were in fine form Saturday. Ricardo declared the liver "the biggest organ in the body," when several more are bigger. Sheridan at one point said "the lighter-complected guy is the fellow from Poland," a remark that is always, always true. The entire commentary track could be recorded and put on LP as a comedy album that had repeat value. I tried to tweet the best lines but it was impossible to keep up. Sheridan and Ricardo were the highlight of the weak card, even if not as they intended. But maybe the fans in Chicago came away happy, too, despite the lack of Sheridan and Ricardo, because they were able to cheer the Polish fighters in victories.