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Johnson says goodbye, Castillo wins
By Tom Donelson, BASN boxing writer
Updated: July 15, 2012
IOWA CITY, IOWA—-The old veteran Jose Luis Castillo fought Chicago based fighter Ivan Popca in Popca’s hometown this past Friday night on ESPN Friday night. The first round, Castillo put aside father time and lost ten years as he faked Popca with head movement before a left hook stunned Popca. He caught Popca with left hooks and right hand as he pummeled Popca. In the opening minute of the second round, a Castillo left hook sent Popca down. Popca, when hurt, turned southpaw and covered up to survive Castillo’s onslaught.
Popca started the third round as a southpaw and was able to connect on solid shots as Castillo favorite weapon, the left hook, was neutralize as he could not penetrate Popca’s defense. Castillo found himself on defense as Popca attacked but an accidental head butt opened up a cut over a Popca’s left eye.
Popca started to slug it out with Castillo as he started to wear the older Castillo down with solid inside combinations but Castillo managed to land some rights but also continued to try connecting with big left hooks. Popca showed courage but throughout the fifth and sixth round, Castillo blows opened up cuts over both eyes.
Castillo continued to damage Popca in the seventh and eighth round as his punches had more pop and caused more damage. Popca was actually outpunching his older opponent but his punches lacked the same punch as his opponent. Castillo used his veteran wiles to win as he was able to withstand the Popca assault with sharp right hands. Despite being outpunched, Castillo connected on more punches and this proved decisive. After the eighth round, the referee saw enough and ended the fight; allowing Castillo to win a TKO.
Glen Johnson had fought the best of his era and beaten a few of them and he prepared to fight Chicago based Andrzej Fonfara. Fonfara, a Polish immigrant, came in the fight as the fan favorite with many Polish-Americans showing up to cheer their native son. The taller Fonfara started jabbing against the older Johnson and most of the first round stayed on the outside which gave Fonfara a slight edge.
In the second round, both fighters alternating spurts but as the round progressed, Johnson started to move inside as his sharp punches started to connect. Johnson landed left hooks to the body followed by short sharp left hooks and right hands to Fonfara’s head. Overr the last thirty seconds, Fonfara started to adjust slightly as he moved a couple inches further from Johnson. This gave Fonfara an opportunity to connect with some left jabs.
Fonfara looped right hands around Johnson’s guard that forced Johnson to retreat in the third round for his best offensive rally in the fight at that point. Fonfara got off first and stayed outside most of the round which forced Johnson to move forward. Going through the fourth and fifth round, Fonfara foot movement and jab allowed him to out punch Johnson who could not consistently get inside and pound the body. Fonfara left jab and followed up right hands scored more frequently than Johnson.
Going into the second half, it was a close fight with five rounds left, but Fonfara had never been more than six rounds; so how would the younger Fonfara hold up? The seventh round was reflective of the fight up to that point as both men managed to land some solid shots with Johnson nailing Fonfara with right hands but Fonfara used his jabs near the end of the round to set up his combinations.
In the eighth round, ESPN Ted Atlas made an interesting observation that Glen Johnson was always a busier fighter and while he was busy in this fight; not like in the past. Atlas concluded as the round ended, “Johnson is fighting more in spurts as oppose to constant fighting.”
In the ninth round, Fonfara used his leg to maneuver in and out with combinations as he proved to be just a little quicker. Johnson found himself fighting for his career as Fonfara started out fast. Fonfara didn’t assume that being the hometown favorite would be decisive with the judges and he came out fast in the last round against the veteran. Fonfara moved in to score but this gave Johnson one opportunity to pull the fight out with right hands. With ten seconds left, Johnson unleashed a big right hand with one last chance to win the fight with one punch but it missed and he got countered.
Johnson fought his last fight and at 43, he showed his age enough to lose to a fighter that maybe a few years back, he would have beaten easily. Johnson has been one of boxing great warriors and effective fighter late in his career but every fighter faces that moment that father time says it is time. Johnson faced that moment when the decision was announced as Fonfara won an easy decision.