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Andrzej Fonfara stands at a crossroad with Pavilion fight

Chicago light-heavyweight contender Andrzej Fonfar(22-2 12 KO's) will fight Tommy Karpency (21-3-1 14 KO's) Adah Pa. Friday night UIC Pavilion.

Chicago light-heavyweight contender Andrzej Fonfara (22-2, 12 KO's) will fight Tommy Karpency (21-3-1, 14 KO's) of Adah, Pa., on Friday night at the UIC Pavilion. Photo by Tomba-Images

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Fight night

When, where: Friday, at the Pavilion, 525 S. Racine. Six boxing matches presented by Round 3 Productions; opening bout starts at 8 p.m., doors open at 7.

Main event: Andrzej Fonfara (22-2, 12 knockouts), Chicago, vs. Tommy Karpency (21-3-1, 14 KO’s), Adah, Pa., 12 rounds, for the IBO light-heavyweight (175 pounds) title.

On the undercard: Carl Davis (16-4, 12 KO’s), Chicago, vs. Richard Carmack (10-0, 8 KO’s), Kansas City, Kan., 6 rounds, heavyweights; Paul Littleton (4-0-1, 4 KO’s), Chicago, vs. Michael Williams (2-0, 2 KO’s), St. Louis, 6 rounds, super middleweights; Jaime Herrera (8-2, 4 KO’s), Chicago, vs. Patrick Boozer (5-0, 2 KO’s), Kansas City, Kan., 6 rounds, welterweights.

Tickets: $150 (sold out), $100, $50, $30, available through Ticketmaster at or (800)-745-3000, at the Pavilion box office or through the Round 3 Productions office (708) 345-9999.

Updated: December 19, 2012 12:31PM

Andrzej Fonfara aced the gatekeeper test. So the next logical step up the ladder for the popular “Polish Prince” is a crossroads fight.

Fonfara’s trainer, veteran Sam Colonna, didn’t want the Chicago-based light-heavyweight contender to “take a step backward” after he pounded respected-but-aging Glen Johnson, a former world champion, into retirement in winning a unanimous decision in July. Colonna called Fonfara’s 12-round main-event bout on Friday night at the Pavilion against Tommy Karpency “a fight that will be a step forward for Andrew.

“Both of these guys are on the way up,” Colonna said, “so both of them need to win. Andrew has progressed past the point where you can hand-pick opponents. This is two guys at similar stages of their careers. It’s exactly the kind of fight we need to bring Andrew up to the next level.”

Fonfara (22-2, 12 knockouts) and Karpency (21-3-1, 14 KOs) will vie for the vacant 175-pound “world” title of the IBO (a secondary sanctioning body) in the off-TV bout. Fonfara, 25, is ranked 16th among light-heavies in the IBO’s “computer” rankings and Karpency, a 26-year-old left-hander from rural Western Pennsylvania, is ranked 48th. Fonfara won 12 in a row, packs a potent punch and — thanks in no small part to his Polish roots — has developed into a legitimate drawing card, a rarity on the Chicago fight scene. His success and a capacity for putting butts in seats has placed him squarely on the radar screens of boxing’s alphabet-soup bodies, being ranked eighth by the WBO, 11th by the WBC and 14th by the IBF.

Karpency, who turned pro with no amateur experience and is trained by his dad, has shown no hesitation to fight in opponents’ backyards. He went to Germany to face world-ranked Karo Murat in 2010, was knocked down in the second round and dropped a fairly lopsided unanimous decision. On Feb. 25, Karpency traveled across the pond to meet undefeated Nathan Cleverly in Wales for the WBO world belt. He stayed on his feet but lost all 12 rounds on all three of the judges’ scorecards. Now, it’s Fonfara at the Pavilion, the site of 10 of the victories in his winning streak.

“Going to my opponents’ hometowns is my only choice,” Karpency said. “I live an hour south of Pittsburgh and it’s a very small town, not a boxing hotbed. I don’t have a promoter. If I want to make a name in this business, I have to hit the road.

“I’ve fought in Wales, fought in Germany. I’ve fought in front of big crowds, so this isn’t new to me. As far as this fight goes, I’m not having to travel out of the country. Jet lag isn’t an issue. I look at it this way: He’s the draw. He’s the ‘Polish Prince.’ As far as I’m concerned, all the pressure is on him.”

When Karpency said that during a media meet-and-greet at the Trump Tower on Wednesday, from his seat on the other side of the podium, the “Prince” cracked a smile and responded, “This pressure is my motivation.”

Fonfara obviously respects Karpency’s on-the-job training against in-their-prime contenders, a resume bullet point he can’t match.

“He’s a tough guy and a southpaw,” Fonfara said. “He went the distance against Cleverly and Murat. He’s a difficult challenge. If I want to get a fight with [big names such as] a Bernard Hopkins or a Chad Dawson, this is the kind of fight I have to win.”

A classic crossroads encounter.

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