Fonfara and Cleverly exchanged punches throughout the night with neither man yielding an inch of ground. Cleverly won rounds by throwing punches from awkward angles and by countering effectively. Fonfara never seemed phased by Cleverly’s power however, and was able to impose his will as the fight wore on.
Cleverly began bleeding from his nose in the middle of the fight as Fonfara launched uppercuts and straight right hands at the injured appendage. The injury slowed the pace of Cleverly’s attack and allowed Fonfara to pull ahead on the scorecards. The fight set a record for most punches landed (936) and thrown (2524) in the light heavyweight division in CompuBox history.
The final judges’ scores were 115-113 and 116-112 twice.
The evening’s co-main event featured thrilling back-and-forth action as super flyweight world champion Kohei Kono (31-8-1, 13 KOs) retained his title via unanimous decision over former world champion Koki Kameda (33-2, 18 KOs). The bout was the first world title fight between two Japanese fighters that was fought on U.S. soil.
The action started in round two when Kono fell to the canvas as a result of a low blow from Kameda. Kono bounced back and immediately put Kameda on the ground with a sharp straight left hand.
In the third round, Kameda was twice deducted points for low blows as Kono continued to punish him with blows to the head. One point would eventually be deducted from Kono in round nine for excessive holding.
While Kameda fought through a left eye that was swollen shut, Kono proved to be dominant from start to finish on his way to a decision victory by scores of 116-108, 115-109 and 113-111. The two fighters landed a combined 679 punches, the second highest total in CompuBox history in the super flyweight division. Kono finished the fight landing 362 punches to 317 by Kameda.
“Cleverly has a great chin. He’s a great fighter. He was taking a lot of punches and not breaking down. He still wanted to go forward and fight. He believed he could win until the very end.
“I thought I would knock him out before the fight, but during the fight I realized he has great defense. I had no idea he could take so many punches and still be in the fight. I realized it would be very hard to knock him out. I respect him very much.
“It was not the toughest fight of my career, but I’m happy because it was a hard 12 rounds.
“I got the feeling I broke his nose around the seventh or eighth round. After taking so many hard punches I felt he was wearing down.
“I was positive I won before they read the decision. The last couple rounds there was no question who was the better fighter. He was still throwing punches, but I was blocking them and hitting him very hard.
“What’s next for me? Hawaii. Vacation.”
“It was a fantastic fight – I had a feeling that our styles were going to gel and that’s what happened. It was a war from the very first bell and I am not surprised that it broke the records for the most punches thrown because when we started we just didn’t stop.
“He can really bang – he’s not far off Sergey Kovalev for power. But I thought I had him until the nose went and I think that without that, I could’ve got the win. But in the end, I think the 115-113 was about right, and credit to him, he took some punches in there too and kept on coming.
“It has been a great experience over here in the U.S. – it’s a pretty hostile crowd but they all congratulated me after the fight. Would I do it again? Why not – it’s what we are here to do, put on entertaining fights for great fans, and I am sure there will be the demand for it.”
“I’ve been training to win this title for years and I’m so happy that I have defended the title.
“I am so happy that I got to face Kameda and get this victory over him. It is a big win for my career.
“If we had fought using movement, he probably would have beaten me, but he decided to trade punches with me and that gave me a chance to win.
“My jab was superb tonight and my uppercut rarely missed. Early in the fight I wasn’t sure I could take his power. But after he hit me a few times and I was still there, I started getting confidence.
“I felt great all week and I knew my performance would be very strong. Even before I left for the U.S. I felt better than I ever had before a fight.”
I trained very hard for this fight. I’m very disappointed.
“I was going to make a decision on whether to retire or not based on my performance. I feel it might be time for me to retire.
“My stamina wasn’t what it should be in the later rounds.
“I got caught in the second round because I made a mistake I shouldn’t have made. He fought very well and I was surprised by his power. I think it’s time for me to retire.”