By Sean Crose
So Showtime Championship Boxing was back on Saturday, broadcast from the UIC Pavilion in Chicago.
At least it was back in essence. There was no one who could be considered entirely new blood appearing on Saturday’s card. Nor were there any established stars. Still, there was entertainment to be found in the squared circle this weekend.
The first bout on Showtime’s televised card was between Javier Fortuna and Abner Cotto, cousin of the famous Miguel Cotto. It was a wild affair, to put it lightly.
Cotto initially decided to drop his opponent with numerous shots to the back of the head.
Then Cotto decided to take things to the extreme by pretending an after the bell swing by Fortuna following round four had actually put him on the mat. He didn’t have to pretend for long, though, for minutes later Fortuna had the man down and out for real.
Fortuna (26-0-1, 19 KOs) was pronounced the winner by knockout in round five, in a fight that was a disheveled affair, sure – but also fun.
If only the same could be said of the second bout. Tomoko Kameda has been hyped as the next big thing in the bantamweight division. Really, though, the only thing worth talking about after the fact was Kameda’s feather pink lined trunks.
Yup, it was kind of a snoozefest watching the Japanese slugger battle Alejandro Hernandez. In short, the final bell couldn’t come soon enough in this fight which offered few moments of real drama.
Kameda (31-0, 19 KOs) won by a split decision, with two scores of 115-113 outweighing the same score for Hernandez from one judge, but he earned few kudos in the process.
Andrzej Fonfara was unquestionably the star of the night. A Polish immigrant currently living in Chicago, the man had given Adonis Stevenson a real go a few months back.
On Saturday. he was faced DouDou Ngumbu, an awkward, energetic foe who wasn’t going to be an easy match for anyone.
In a word, the fight was thoroughly enjoyable. Ngumbu won the first few rounds, then Fonfara started kicking into gear. By the seventh it was anyone’s fight. What’s more, neither man was afraid to hit – or to be hit. It was a good, old fashioned slugfest (if only more prominent Showtime cards delivered in such a fashion).
Here’s the truth – the virtually unknown Ngumbu made for good television. For Ngumbu landed good, accurate, hard punches consistently. For his own part, Fonfara took those punches very well, landed great, straight shots of his own, controlled the tempo of the bout and remained generally relaxed through all ten rounds.
The unanimous decision indeed went Fonfara’s way, with two scores of 97-93 and one of 98-92.
Still, it was hard not to feel bad for Ngumbu (33-6, 12 KOs) after the decision was read. Here was a guy who gave it his all and who looked good doing it. That’s more than I can say for Danny Garcia throughout 2014. Let’s hope we see more of Ngumbu in the future. He’s a pleasure to watch.
Fonfara (26-3, 15 KOs), of course, reportedly wants another shot at Stevenson. Showtime’s commentators claimed the lineal light heavyweight champ has bigger fish to fry.
That may be true, but it’s up in the air whether Stevenson actually wants to face any of those big fish in the ring. In fact, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Stevenson found Fonfara too risky to face a second time. The Pole had the champion on the canvas during their first bout, remember.
No one can tell what the future holds, but Showtime has to be applauded for finally delivering a decent fight card again. Sure, it was success in a minor key, but the night was successful nonetheless.
A good night of boxing doesn’t have to consist of major fights, after all. All that’s needed for a good night of boxing are fights which are enjoyable to watch. Two of the three fights on Saturday proved to be decent viewing.
And that in and of itself was a pleasure.