By Jason Pribila – Ringside in BETHLEHEM, USA – Boxing returned to the Christmas City of Bethlehem, PA on Saturday afternoon. The feature bout was a heavyweight rematch between Tomasz Adamek and Steve Cunningham. The two first met down the road in New Jersey in December of 2008. On that night Adamek lifted Cunningham’s IBF cruiserweight title, on this day Adamek shop-lifted a split decision victory along with the IBF’s number two ranking.
Cunningham campaigned hard for an immediate rematch with Adamek, but “Goral” only fought one more time at cruiserweight before deciding to campaign at heavyweight. Cunningham went on to recapture a title while plying his trade overseas. After back to back losses to Yoan Pablo Hernandez, Cunningham also moved up to heavyweight. One fight later he would be reunited with Adamek.
Three years into his heavyweight campaign, Adamek has gradually grown into his 223 lb. frame. Cunningham weighed in at 203 lbs. while wearing sweatpants (and possibly a roll of quarters in his pockets). The fact that Adamek had dropped Cunningham three times in their first fight, along with a 20lb weight advantage made him a 4:1 betting favorite.
Prior to the fight, Cunningham’s trainer – Naazim Richardson told Boxingscene.com that Cunningham would need discipline to defeat Adamek. During the fight, Richardson was heard telling Cunningham that he showed heart in their first bout, he now had to show his skills.
For much of the bout, Cunningham was doing just that. He used his height and reach advantage to keep Adamek at the end of his jab, which opened up the straight right that Cunningham landed early and often. Adamek started slow, but remained patient. He fought as If it was just a matter of time until he would close the distance and inevitably hurt Cunningham.
Adamek finally found sustained success in the fourth round when he began to land powerful right hands over Cunningham’s jab. Prior to that he was only letting his hands go when he heard the 10-second warning at the end of each round.
Cunningham stopped Adamek’s momentum when he rocked him with a right hand in the fifth. However, as was the case throughout the bout, Cunningham showed too much respect and was reluctant to follow up after landing a power shot. Time after time Cunningham would land a big right and then move away. Prior to the fight Cunningham said that he underestimated Adamek’s chin in his fight, which is why he would get dropped going in for the knockout.
That chin was tested several times in round ten. Cunningham landed several right hands, but it was a vicious body shot that seemed to hurt Adamek.
Cunningham was now set to enter the championship rounds with a four point lead on my scorecard. He fought as If he knew that if he remained on his feet, he would gain his revenge via decision.
In the red corner, Adamek seemed to fight with an almost desperate attack. His aggression earned him the final two rounds on my card, but he still came up short as I scored the bout 115-113 Cunningham.
Unfortunately, only one of the three judges at ringside watched the same fight that I observed. Making matters worse is that ring announcer, Michael Buffer, originally read scores that would have resulted in a Draw. After a few uncomfortable minutes, he announced a correction needed to be made. 115-115 was not correct and it should be changed to 115-112 in favor of Adamek. The arena was stunned as an initial bad decision was now overruled by one that was even worse.
Adamek is now one more win away from being one of Wladimir Klitschko’s knockout victims. He is officially 2-0 against Cunningham, and has no reason to offer him a third fight any time soon.
As for Cunningham, well his future is much cloudier. He has now lost 3 of his last four fights. He is 36 years old, and at the end of the day, by weighing in at 203lbs, he remains a cruiserweight.
Not to worry though, Deborah Barnes (115-112) and Dave Greer (116-112), the judges that scored the bout or Adamek, they will get to go home and celebrate the holidays with loved ones, and will surely be assigned another fight card early in 2013.
There are few certainties in life and even fewer in boxing. However, I will go out on a limb and say that this was certainly the last time we will see Tor Hamer on NBC Sports. Hamer (19-2, 12KO) quit after four rounds against 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Vyacheslav “Czar” Glazkov (14-0, 10KO).