Exclusive: Fonfara talks comeback with new trainer Hunter, Smith Jr. vs Hopkins / Stevenson
Light-heavyweight contender Andrzej Fonfara is plotting a return to action in the spring after a stoppage loss at the hands of 2016’s breakout star Joe Smith Jr.
The tough Pole was on the verge of a possible WBC title shot when he ran into Smith Jr. last June at the UIC Pavilion, halting his considerable momentum on the back of defeating Nathan Cleverly in a barnstorming battle. Fonfara was taken out in 152 shocking seconds, losing his International belt in the process, whilst thankfully retaining his Top 15 ranking.
Regrouped and re-inspired by a new addition to the Fonfara household, the 29 year-old is aiming for a huge 2017 on the back of a link-up with renowned coach and boxing personality Virgil Hunter.
“I concentrated on my family, my wife and my son who was born in July. I’ve also moved to California to start training with Virgil Hunter. I’m concentrating on getting back to the top,” Fonfara exclusively told World Boxing News when asked what he’s been up to since the summer.
“I’ve been working on my defense and legwork. Also strengthening my weaknesses and improving what’s already there.”
Asked if he’s have done anything differently if he could have the Smith fight all over again, Fonfara replied: “First of all, I would start a little slower and I’m not saying this because I underestimated Smith, but I’d concentrate on trying him out in those few first rounds instead.”
As Smith moved on to defeat Bernard Hopkins in late 2016 and earn a nod as one of the fighters of the year, Fonfara could only wonder what might have been if he could rewind back those eight months.
“It could’ve been me instead of Smith and I could’ve knocked out the legendary Hopkins,” he pointed out. “But on the other hand, I’m happy Smith won because now he’s among the big guys and the winning the fight against me opened those doors for him (and the Hopkins fight).”
Having watched the Hopkins v Smith fight unfold, Fonfara gave his opinion on who the fight developed and eventually ‘that knock out’ which sent ‘The Executioner’ out of the ring completely and onto the floor below.
“I could see Hopkins was losing strength from round to round and he was trying to use ropes as a support. Smith punched him and he fell out of the ring. It has happened a few times in the history of boxing but no, Hopkins was definitely not pushed.
“If I can get the rematch with Smith that would be good for me, but I believe he hopes to fight Adonis Stevenson. If it happens though, I think that Stevenson can knock him out as the champion is very sneaky.
“For now, I hope to be back in spring and look forward to fighting again,” added Fonfara.