Light heavyweight contender Joe Smith defeated favorite Andrzej Fonfara by first-round TKO in the main event of a Premier Boxing Champions tripleheader Saturday night at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago.
Smith, who works in construction when he's not boxing, was a massive underdog against Fonfara, who had won three bouts in a row coming into the fight and was expecting a rematch with champion Adonis Stevenson. Fonfara lost a unanimous decision to Stevenson in May 2014.
Fonfara (28-4, 16 KOs) seemed to have Smith in trouble in the middle of the first round, but Smith connected on an overhead right hand that sent Fonfara to the canvas. He was able to beat the count, but Smith (22-1, 18 KOs) went for the finish and sent Fonfara down once again with a flurry of punches. Fonfara tried to get up but wasn't in great shape, forcing the referee to stop the fight at 2:32.
"I came here today to prove a point that I belong in here with the best, and I proved that tonight," said Smith. "He's fought the best fighters in the world, and no one dominated him the way I have.
"I knew he left himself open here and there whenever he throws his punches," Smith said. "I told myself, whenever he's punching make sure I punch with him, and that's what I did and ended up catching him with that overhead right."
Smith, who had said this fight could change his life with a win, wasn't going to let Fonfara recover.
"When I see somebody hurt, I don't let them get off the hook," Smith said. "I was determined to get that win tonight."
In the co-feature, three-time U.S. Olympian Rau'shee Warren (14-1, 4 KOs) defeated Juan Carlos Payano (17-2, 8 KOs) to win a bantamweight title. It was a rematch of last August's fight, when Payano, after visiting the canvas twice, won a split decision against Warren.