Cunningham-Adamek in Fight of the Year!
By Ken Hissner at ringside reporting for DoghouseBoxing (Dec 17, 2008)  
Boxing received the shot in the arm it needed last Thursday night as IBF Cruiserweight champion Steve “USS” Cunningham, 21-2 (11), of Philadelphia lost a controversial split decision to Poland’s Tomasz Adamek, 36-1 (24), at the new Prudential Center, in Newark, New Jersey.

At a time when boxing has been fed Pacquiao-De La Hoya, Calzaghe-Jones and Hopkins-Pavlik lopsided decisions, the VERSUS cable network put on what many call the fight of the year, and certainly the best fight the young to boxing network has produced!

With thousands of Polish fans in the Newark area attending, and flags all over the arena, the pro Adamek crowd may have influenced two of the judges along with the 3 knockdowns that Adamek scored while otherwise being outsmarted by the now former champion Cunningham. Referee Earl Morton had an easy night of it.

Cunningham had to go to Poland and defeat Krzysztof Wlodarczyk in May of 2007 to gain the title, only to come back to the United States and lose a heartbreaker. In his only defense he defeated Marco Huck in Germany a year ago. His promoter Don King, who was co-promoter along with Main Events for this fight hadn’t kept him busy in spite of at least one offer from Denmark for Cunningham’s services in May of this year.

“I don’t want to use it as an excuse, but not fighting in a year may have hurt me,” said Cunningham after the fight. Cunningham set the tempo early coming out strong each round dictating with a good jab from the ever oncoming Adamek who has a chin of granite. “I’m disappointed of course, anytime you lose a belt. I give all the glory to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, but I fell into my opponents plan too much.” By this, he meant the usually good technician allowed himself to get into a slugfest that though had the fans cheering throughout the match, left him vulnerable to strong right hands by Adamek. “I made a promise to my Polish fans six months ago I would win this title,” said Adamek. He had the marks of a warrior who along with Cunningham showed the boxing world what a championship fight should be all about.

After a easy 1st round for Cunningham, he found himself getting outworked in the 2nd round and getting caught with a glazing left hook just prior to the bell, finding himselt on the canvas for the 1st knockdown of the fight. He came back in the 3rd round to regain control and had Adamek out on his feet with left uppercuts until about 20 seconds left in the round when a vicious right hand by Adamek dropped the champion for a 2nd time.

In the 5th round Cunningham again gained control with his jab and rocked Adamek with a right hand. In the 6th he simply seemed to outsmart his opponent who was very stationary when throwing punches, while Cunningham would switch to southpaw to make his case for boxing superiority between the 2 of them. Adamek urged on by his fans never stopped coming forward to his credit. In the 8th while outpunching Adamek, Cunningham got dropped for a 3rd time with a left hook, and was visibly hurt. He managed to get through the round and come back in the 9th gaining control again except for a right hand by Adamek that rocked him. Again in the 11th Cunningham rocked Adamek but failed to follow through and by his own admission might have cost him the fight.

“I thought I only lost the 3 knockdown rounds and 1 other round,” said Cunningham. The writers at ringside were mixed as the scores were read by the announcer. Clark Sammartino gave it to Cunningham 114-112 while judge’s John Stewart had it a questionable 116-110 and Shaeeq Rashada with a 115-112, both for the new champion Adamek. This writer had it 114-111 Cunningham. “I thank God for Polish fans and their support in this fight,” said Adamek. “I was surprised hitting anyone with a straight right how he kept getting up. He has the heart of a champion,” said Adamek of Cunningham at the press conference.

In being asked about a rematch, Adamek seemed reluctant to answer while referring to his promoter, Kathy Duva of Main Events. “I feel we can come back to this building in the future and give the fans more great fights,” said Duva. She also would not commit to a rematch to Cunningham at that moment. Cunningham’s promoter, King, was noticeably missing from the press conference. It may take the fans in order to make it happen. The many viewers of the fight and the thousands on hand would like nothing better.

“I had him hurt in the 4th round and let him get off. I deviated from going to the body enough,” said Cunningham. “I would like a rematch and thought I put on a great performance for the fans tonight,” said Cunningham. Former heavyweight champion Chris Byrd entered the ring with Cunningham with the IBF belt held high. They both have shared a close friendship over the years.

In a very good IBF bantamweight title fight, the champion Joseph “King Kong” Agbeko 26-1 (22), of Ghana, now living in the Bronx, won a majority decision over 12 rounds from William Gonzalez, 21-3 (19), of Nicaragua, in an action packed defense of his title.

Gonzalez was cut on the left eyebrow and between the eyes throughout much of the fight, but the southpaw never stopped trying. Both fighters were rocked on several occasions. Judge Tom Kaczmarek had it even at 114-114, while judge’s Larry Doggette and Lawrence Layton both had it 116-112 for the champion in his 1st defense since winning the title in September of this year. This writer had it 115-113 for the champion Agbeko. The cuts may have prevented Gonzalez from winning the title. Nutrition seemed to play a big part down the stretch in this one.

The two opening matches and the show closer were all mismatches. The two title bouts made it a good night of boxing for all the fans. HBO, Showtime and PPV would do boxing and the fans a great service by seeking the rematches in both title bouts.

The #1 WBC junior welterweight, southpaw Devon Alexander, 17-0 (10), of St. Louis worked the body and head in scoring 2 2nd round knockdowns over gallant Chris Fernandez, 15-6-1 (9), of Salt Lake City. He dealt out plenty of punishment for three rounds until the referee Brian O’Melia, called a halt at the rounds end.

Paterson’s Henry Crawford 20-0-1 (9) had an easy time of it stopping Maximino Cuevas, 10-9-1 (5), of West Palm Beach, at 1:04 of the 2nd round, when the referee Randy Neumann put a stop to it.

In the last bout of the night Paterson’s Jeremy Bryan, 8-0 (4), registered four knockdowns in stopping Pittsburgh’s Khristian Geraci, 4-5-1 (4), who entered the ring with a tattoo that said “tap out” on his back. This MMA fighter should return to the less skilled sport where I’m sure he would do much better.

The cruiserweight division was given new life and only a rematch would keep the fire going. So, let’s hope Kathy Duva’s Main Events does the right thing and bring back a Cunningham-Adamek rematch as soon as possible.

Ken at:

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