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Andrzej Fonfara wins by TKO to highlight night of boxing at U.S. Cellular Field

ESPN2 Friday Nite Fights came Sox Field 8/16/13 with ring set up home plate    John Booz/for Sun-Times

ESPN2 Friday Nite Fights came to Sox Field on 8/16/13, with the ring set up on home plate, John Booz/for the Sun-Times Media

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Updated: September 18, 2013 6:16AM

Local promoter Frank Mugnolo might have provided the impetus for the rare outdoor boxing card on Friday night at U.S. Cellular Field.

But Gov. Pat Quinn and the promoter’s father, Tony “Muggs” Mugnolo, were better equipped to put the night into perspective.

Quinn recalled the last fight at a Chicago baseball stadium, when Sonny Liston knocked out Floyd Patterson at Comiskey Park on Sept. 25, 1962. What stands out most in Quinn’s mind is how quickly that fight ended.

“At that time they allowed smoking, so you could see the haze and Liston came into the ring, Patterson arrived and he landed on his chin,” Quinn said.

The governor added that reviving boxing would be beneficial to the city’s youth.

“We don’t want young men and women on the streets,” Quinn said. “So these boxing clubs, if you’re a member of the club, the more we can get that ­going, the better.”

The senior Mugnolo, a retired Chicago police officer, was on duty and sitting ringside as part of the fighters’ security ­detail for Liston vs. ­Patterson.

“It was a little different [than Friday night],” Tony said. “The ring was by second base. It was different, a little different. They had chairs all over. What I remember about [Liston vs. Patterson] is it didn’t last too long.”

The elder Mugnolo, 83, was at the Cell on Friday.

For the event, organizers put the ring where home plate typically sits. Seats in the outfield were blocked off and seating ran from the end of the first-base line to the end of the third-base line. Fans sat in all three decks.

The junior Mugnolo credited the success of the event — which drew a crowd of 8,231 and fostered an atmosphere that was described as “electric’ by announcers broadcasting it on ESPN2 — to the fights his promotional group was able to stage.

The card included heavyweight Mike Mollo, a native Chicagoan whose team wore robes with the White Sox’ emblem on the sleeve. Mollo (20-5-1) was stopped at 1:41 of the fifth round by Artur Szpilka (16-0, 12 KOs) of Poland, pretty much the same result as in their rock ’em, sock ’em battle in February.

Also, light-heavyweight contender Andrzej “The Polish Prince” Fonfara (24-2, 14 KOs) scored a technical-knockout victory at 1:37 of the ninth against former WBA title-holder Gabriel Campillo (22-5-1) in an IBF eliminator. The end came after Campillo was knocked down by a brutal shot to the solar plexus.

ESPN play-by-play announcer Joe Tessitore called the Cell card “one of the most high-energy nights we’ve ever seen on ‘Friday Night Fights.’ ’’

“You need the fights, the fighters so that promoters can bring it here because Chicago is, I say this all the time, the best fight town in the world,” Frank Mugnolo said. “We’ve got the toughest fighters, we’ve got the best fans, it’s the best town in the world.”


Twitter: @SethGruen

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