Light heavyweight world champion Adonis Stevenson said Saturday that he will face Andrzej Fonfara in a rematch on June 3 at a site to be determined in Canada.
“It’s now official,” Stevenson wrote on social media. “June 3rd rematch against Andrzej Fonfara in Canada. The undercard will be interesting as well.”
In May 2014, Fonfara was largely unknown when he got a shot at Stevenson’s 175-pound world title at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Stevenson’s hometown.
Stevenson was expected to win easily and appeared to be on his way to doing just that, dominating Fonfara through the first seven rounds. Stevenson, a southpaw originally from Haiti, dropped Fonfara, a Poland native living in Chicago, with a cracking left hand in the third round and again with a body shot in the fifth round.
But Fonfara, as game as they come, turned the tide in the eighth round. As Stevenson began to fade, Fonfara began to land hard right hands and then knocked him down in the ninth round and had him in tremendous trouble. Stevenson hung on, however, and won by scores of 116-109, 115-110 and 115-110, but it was one of the toughest fights of his career.
The rematch likely will take place in either Montreal of Quebec City.
Yvon Michel, Stevenson’s promoter, told ESPN that Stevenson’s next fight will indeed come against Fonfara, though he was noncommittal on the date or which television network would carry it.
“The fight with Fonfara is agreed upon, but still contracts (need) to be signed,” Michel said. “Place and dates still in negotiations. (We) will have confirmation about the network early next week. I am expecting a terrific fight. Last time there was a lot of drama in the course of the 12 rounds.”
Before the Fonfara rematch came into play, plans were in the works for Stevenson to defend against contender Joe Smith Jr. (23-1, 19 KOs), who has a big fan base on New York’s Long Island, on April 29 in the main event of the first fight card since the mid-1980s at the newly renovated Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, New York.
When the deal could not be worked out, Stevenson’s team worked out a deal in principle for him to face another popular Long Island fighter, Seanie Monaghan (28-0, 17 KOs), at the Nassau Coliseum, though the date was going to move to May 27 or into June.
For reasons that are unclear, the deal with Monaghan was not finalized and the Fonfara rematch was put together in recent days.
Asked what happened to the Monaghan fight, Michel declined to go into detail but said, “Monaghan will have his opportunity down the road if he keeps winning.”
Monaghan was not pleased to hear that Stevenson was not going to fight him.
“Well it seems I got jerked again. Fight with Stevenson is off,” he said. “I honestly always kinda doubted it was gonna happen. Was he gonna fight an undefeated guy? No, he fights a guy he beat already who just got KO’d in one round. No wonder nobody respects this punk (expletive). Whoever I get next is in trouble.”
The 39-year-old Stevenson (28-1, 23 KOs) won the title by first-round knockout of Chad Dawson in 2013 and has made seven defenses. But he has been roundly criticized for failing to seek out the most significant fights — namely what would have been a unification fight against then-titleholder Sergey Kovalev. Nonetheless, Stevenson is coming off a one-sided fourth-round knockout of Thomas Williams in July.
After losing to Stevenson, Fonfara (29-4, 17 KOs) won his next three fights in a row, including making Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. quit on his stool after the ninth round of a one-sided fight in 2015 and then outpointing former world titleholder Nathan Cleverly in a barnburner later that year. Cleverly went on to reclaim a world title after the fight.
But last June, Fonfara suffered a first-round knockout loss to Smith in a huge upset before rebounding in March to knock out Dawson in the 10th round and possibly send him into retirement.