By Przemek Garczarczyk
“It’s what’s next what counts. I can do nothing about my defeat against Smith Jr, but I can do everything to make sure, that this was the last one in my career,” said light heavyweight contender Andrzej Fonfara (28-4, 16 KOs) , who at 28 years of age considers himself a ring veteran with all that has happened in his boxing life. Training with Virgil Hunter in Oakland, ‘The Polish Prince’ is ready to prove it, most likely early in 2017.
“When I moved from Chicago to California, with my wife Justyna and just a month old son Leo, I expected it to be a tougher transition than it actually was,” Fonfara told Fightnews.com. “At the beginning it was tough, getting situated in my apartment in Union City, buying all this stuff needed not just for me but the family was an ordeal. But I knew I can always count on my brother Mark, my friends. I didn’t know Virgil Hunter, but just after a couple of days in his gym, I knew it was a right decision.”
Fonfara decided to make a dramatic change after his June 18 shocking first round knockout from the hands of strong but unheralded Joe Smith Jr. In front of his Chicago fans in his adopted hometown, Fonfara lost WBC International belt and his #2 WBC in the rankings. “It was tough, really tough. I consider myself an elite light heavyweight. I’m a very proud man. After that kind of defeat, I just had to play my cards all in. Moving more than 2000 miles, to a completely new environment, new people, will do just that. Virgil, all the fighters – Andre Ward, Mike Perez, Peter Quillin – in the gym welcomed me with open arms, with respect. I appreciate that”.
One of the reasons Fonfara choose Virgil Hunter, was his work with one of best P4P fighters of the world, Andre Ward. “We are working with my ring awareness, being ready to defend – and strike – at any time. Slightly different positioning, ring generalship. Just happens that my first sparring since June bout with Smith jr was with Andre. Three rounds, I did well. On this level, you learn with the best. Will spend a week with Ward, trainer Hunter in Las Vegas, helping Andre prepare for Sergey Kovalev. Camp life.”
When asked about a possible return and his thoughts about Joe Smith Jr’s chances with legendary Bernard Hopkins, Fonfara said, “I will be watching. I don’t have any preferences, not pulling for or against anyone. Smith decided not to give me a rematch and fights Hopkins who is a completely different fighter than me. Hopkins is a favorite, and I’m sure that my bout with Joe gave him some ideas what to do and what not to do in the ring. If he would beat Hopkins, would Smith be ready to fight me again? Nobody knows that. My return? There were some talks about a fight just before Christmas, maybe against not a top-rated opponent, but recently we are discussing a return with a bang, early in 2017. I’m ready, no matter what!”