Tomasz Adamek: Cruiser Control
By Coyote Duran at ringside, (July 15, 2008) Doghouse Boxing  
Having last fought in April and slated to face IBF cruiserweight titlist Steve Cunningham in his next meeting, The Ring Magazine's number three-rated cruiserweight Tomasz Adamek returned to Chicago to tremendous (albeit a speck lesser than a Ricky Hatton-style degree) fanfare; taking in a tune-up fight against journeyman Gary Gomez in what would truly be a one-sided affair.

The last time Adamek, 35-1 (24), reared his head in The Windy City, he successfully defended his WBC light heavyweight title against steely Australian Paul Briggs in a rematch to a 2005 'Fight Of The Year' candidate. Three years and change later, Polish-Americans and nationals alike packed the Aragon Ballroom on Chicago's happening north side to refresh their recent memories of 'The Polish Warrior.' As it turned out, the fans wouldn't leave disappointed.

Gomez, 18-10-1 (7), seen by the Adamek camp as a tougher-than-average stay-busy option, would ultimately prove to be less than the vigorous challenge Tomasz and Company anticipated, come fight night. The first sign of things to come was clear upon each fighter's entry into the ring. Gomez, the naturally shorter fighter was also the lesser conditioned of the two. Adamek approached the ring with an air of royalty and was truly ready; having stopped former Undisputed Cruiserweight Champion O'Neil Bell three months ago while showing fans how well the weight gain has served him. Stocky as he was and solid as he appeared, one could still wonder why 'The Pit Bull' couldn't comfortably fight in a lighter division like light heavyweight or even super middleweight. Maybe even do well at it.

Friday night, however, was not the night to be in the 200-pound division and Adamek was definitely the wrong opponent. Gomez wasn't just fighting Adamek. He was fighting every Polish fan in the building and they let you know who they were cheering for.

At the opening bell, Adamek seemed stiff and focused; dictating the pace and feeling out his opponent with a laser-like left hand. Adamek's near-perfect jab would open Gomez' guard almost immediately to hard crosses. Gomez would ignore his height deficit and attempt to make an impact on Adamek's body; only to give way to combinations. Adamek would work the jab again, befuddling Gomez.

At the start of round two, Gomez would leave his corner looking hungry. Almost possessing an unusual John Ruiz-esque 'herky-jerky' style, Gomez would lunge with his jab; attacking Adamek upstairs but eating combos in the process. Adamek would stay brilliant with his left, jabbing through Gomez' guard once more. An awesome hook would rattle Gomez; making way for more left-right-left action ending the round.

Gomez would remain the pursuer for most of the fight, constantly backing up the Pole. However, Adamek, would use these stitches in time to work his counters. Throughout the fight, Adamek's patient sense of control would remain the pattern.

Gomez' guard would get weaker as the rounds went on and Adamek would only loosen up in kind. Soon, the fight would become more the hunt-peck-combo-contact-circle variety for Adamek as the middle chapters of a real boxing lesson would materialize.

By round five, sporting a somewhat tender face, Gomez would come out stalking once more; amping up the bravery while looking frustrated in the process. Throwing one punch to take four or five more, Gomez focuses on Adamek's body; working on backing up the Gilowice native and survives the round.

The beginning of the end was imminent as Adamek would once more bring out his tireless left hand and rattle Gomez' cage. Gomez would continue to give chase as Adamek continued countering with as much conviction in the sixth heat as he had in the very first. Adamek rails stingers to Gomez' midsection while the crowd chants raucously in unison. When one watches on TV, there's little trouble deciphering what a loud chant might be but in the Aragon Ballroom (unless you were a part of The Polish Choir), it was tough to discern if the chants were "POLAND!", GILOWICE!" or "GOMEZ!" Maybe all three throughout the evening.

Adamek would fire up the energy; going from body to head and back down to body. Gomez' timing would erode noticeably but he kept chasing. As if to sense desperation, Adamek presses the gas; closing the round strongly.

At this point, the consensus was clear: Tomasz Adamek was going home one win richer. Exactly how was cause for surprise as, after the bell sounding the start of the seventh round, Gary Gomez stayed on his stool; pain seemingly wracking his countenance. Although showing no glaring signs of such, Gomez would claim to have injured his right hand. As referee Gerald Scott waved off the bout, stoked Adamek fans would rise to their feet as their hero would drink in the adulation from the ring posts of every corner.

Unfortunately, the cruiserweight division isn't exactly bursting at the seams with options but we'll take what we can get. At this time, there is no distinct World Champion, since recent Undisputed Champion David Haye loaded up the truck and moved to heavyweight. 'USS' Cunningham' comes closest, holding the IBF strap, and knows what facing a foreign challenger means; especially in their backyard (twice against ex-titlist Krzyztof Wlodarczyk). Clearly, Wlodarczyk is no Adamek, but at the same time, Gary Gomez proved to be no Steve Cunningham.

In certainly the most interesting cruiserweight match-up since Haye-Jean-Marc Mormeck, Cunningham's defense against Adamek will be a true battle of wills and, unsurprisingly, Cunningham's toughest to date. Anyone who has seen Adamek's two meetings against Briggs or remembers how easily former WBC light heavyweight titleholder Chad Dawson went down before taking the green strap knows that when one faces Adamek, he can't bring any less than 100 percent of his will to win. There's just no point, otherwise.

Reportedly, Cunningham has shown interest in defending his belt against Adamek in The Windy City. If so, then Cunningham is way gutsier than we give him credit for; as Cunningham wouldn't just be defending against Tomasz Adamek, but Chicago's entire Polish community and many more rabid fans willing to make the long trip abroad.

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