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Chicago to host outdoor 'FNF' finale

6/11/2013 - Boxing

U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago isn't just for White Sox baseball this summer.

The stadium will also host boxing, as light heavyweight Andrzej Fonfara takes on former world titleholder Gabriel Campillo in the main event of the Aug. 16 season finale of ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights," organizers announced Monday.

Also on the card in the co-feature is the heavyweight rematch between Artur Szpillka and Mike Mollo.

"We are very excited about bringing boxing back to the South Side," said Kelly Kraft, CEO of the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, one of the promoters of the card. "Aug. 16 will be a memorable night marking a rare opportunity for fight fans, baseball fans and Chicago fans to experience boxing inside a ballpark."

According to the promoters, the last time a Chicago baseball stadium hosted a professional boxing card was on Sept. 25, 1962, when Sonny Liston knocked out Floyd Patterson in the first round to win the world heavyweight championship at Comiskey Park, the former home of the Chicago White Sox.

"Chicago used to be the greatest fight town in the world, and we want to make it that way again," said Frank Mugnolo of Round 3 Productions, one of the promoters of the card. "My father went to the last great fight at Comiskey Park back in 1962 when Sonny Liston knocked out Floyd Patterson."

"Transforming the home of the Chicago White Sox into a boxing ring once again will bring back a lot of memories and help create new ones in the annals of Chicago boxing," he said.

Dominic Pesoli of 8 Count Productions, who along with Warriors Boxing's Leon Margules are the other promoters of the event, looks at the show as the crowning achievement of his career. He has kept boxing alive in Chicago by promoting cards there regularly for the past 15 years.

"Our event at U.S. Cellular Field will truly validate this growing success," Pesoli said.

Fonfara (23-2, 13 KOs), 25, who is from Poland and living in Chicago, is beginning to develop a fan following there and also is making his way up the light heavyweight rankings. He owns a July 2012 decision win against former world champion Glen Johnson.

Margules said the stadium would be configured to accommodate a crowd of about 16,000, with the ring being erected behind the home plate area.

Campillo (21-5-1, 8 KOs), 34, of Spain, has lost his last two fights -- a highly controversial split decision to Tavoris Cloud in a 2012 world title fight and a third-round knockout to rising star Sergey Kovalev in January -- but looks to be one of Fonfara's best opponents.

Szpillka (14-0, 11 KOs), 24, of Poland, will face Chicago's Mollo (20-4-1, 12 KOs), 33, just a few months after they engaged in an all-out bloody slugfest on Feb. 1 at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago. Szpillka won by sixth-round knockout after rallying from two knockdowns.