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Boxing card at the Cell: A blast from the past

TUNNEY DEMPSEEY

TUNNEY DEMPSEEY

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Boxing might be a sport that has lost some popularity in recent years. But in staging a scheduled seven-bout card Friday at U.S. Cellular Field, promoters and fighters alike hope the historical significance will prove Chicago still is a great fight city.

According to promoters, the card marks the first professional fights at a Chicago baseball stadium since Sept. 25, 1962, when Sonny Liston knocked out Floyd Patterson at Comiskey Park.

The outdoor card features co-main events. In the first headliner, a 10-rounder, heavyweight Mike Mollo (20-4-1, 12 knockouts), a native Chicagoan, will fight against Artur Szpilka (15-0, 11 KOs) in a rematch of their bout Feb. 1 at the Pavilion, when Szpilka earned a sixth-round knockout.

The second main event pits up-and-coming light heavyweight Andrzej Fonfara (23-2, 13 KOs) against Gabriel Campillo (22-5-1, 9 KOs) in a 12-rounder.

The event will be televised on “ESPN Friday Night Fights.”

“It’s definitely going to let you know that Chicago has got a good fight scene,” Mollo said. “We’re still here, we’re here. Chicago is here and alive and well in the sport of boxing. It’s a great job the promoters have done.”

Liston-Patterson isn’t the only famous outdoor bout fought here.

On Sept. 22, 1927, Jack Dempsey fought Gene Tunney at Soldier Field in front of reportedly more than 100,000 people. It stands as one of the most controversial fights in history.

A rematch of the duo’s bout 364 days prior when Tunney took the heavyweight title from Dempsey, the fight is known in boxing circles for the “Long Count.”

Dempsey knocked down ­Tunney in the seventh round and according to accounts of the fight was given some 12 to 15 seconds to get up instead of 10. Tunney ended up winning the bout.

Fonfara believes staging another outdoor event here could give fans a new perspective.

“It’s [fighting outside] not like something new for me, but it’s a very good idea,” Fonfara said. “People can see something here, something different than boxing inside.”

Email: sgruen@suntimes.com

Twitter: @SethGruen



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