Can Adamek beat USS Cunningham?

By Geoffrey Ciani: When former cruiserweight champion David Haye decided to move up and test his luck at heavyweight, a void was left in one of the most frequently overlooked weight classes in boxing. On Thursday night, IBF champion Steve “USS” Cunningham and number one contender Tomasz Adamek will be looking to fill that void when they square off at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. Currently ranked number one and two respectively, the winner of this contest will be recognized as the new Ring Magazine cruiserweight champion..

The Cunningham-Adamek bout makes for an interesting clash of styles. Cunningham is a slick defensive fighter who uses volume to make up for his lack of power; Adamek is a come-forward offensive fighter, he uses volume to try and overwhelm his opponents with an accumulation of blows. Given the high punch output employed by both boxers, this should make for an entertaining fight.

Many people are wondering whether Adamek will be able to cope with Cunningham’s slick defensive style. Those who doubt him are apt to point out Adamek’s performance against Chad Dawson. Against Dawson, Adamek looked confused and bamboozled at times and had a lot of difficulty finding the mark with his punches. His punch count was down considerably in this fight, as Dawson was able to remain out of harm’s way throughout most of the contest. Adamek also seemed greatly troubled by Dawson’s speed of hand and foot.

It is worth noting, however, that the problems posed by Dawson may well not come into play against Cunningham. For starters, Cunnigham is not as fast as Dawson was, and arguably, he is not as fast as Adamek, either—their speed is comparable, in particular hand speed, which I might even give the edge to Adamek. Cunnigham is also more prone to clinch on the inside, and is not as slick or quick in his movement, meaning he will have more difficulty staying out of harm’s way. Furthermore, it is unlikely that Adamek will try and outbox Cunningham without applying constant pressure, which was probably the biggest mistake he made when he faced Dawson.

Although it is possible that the Adamek-Dawson comparison might come into play, I think Cunnigham’s bouts with Krysztof Wlodarczyk might be more applicable. In his first fight with Wlodarczyk, Cunnigham went into a defensive shell that involved a lot of holding after being tagged with some decent power shots. This disrupted the defensive-minded fighter’s rhythm, and ultimately led to his losing the contest for the vacant IBF championship. In the rematch, Cunnigham was able to utilize the clinch more effectively, usually succumbing to that tactic only after throwing a jab or a short combination. This enabled him to be more effective, and allowed him to reverse the outcome of their first encounter.

If Wlodarcyk’s power was able to cause trouble for Cunningham, it is safe to say that Adamek should be able to do the same. Some might argue that Wlodarcyk packs a bigger punch than Adamek, and that might well be true, but it’s important to remember that Adamek has proven power at cruiserweight, as evidenced by his fight with former champion O’Neil Bell. Not only that, but Adamek is much faster than Wlodarcyk, and is much more fluid when throwing combinations. This should enable him to earn Cunnigham’s respect, which at the very least, should keep things competitive. If Adamek is able to successfully fight on the inside and out of clinches (which is something he has never really had to do), then it is possible that Cunningham might be in for a long night.

In the end, this should be an entertaining contest between two evenly matched pugilists. Whether Adamek has enough in him to win this bout, I cannot say, but he definitely has a chance, and I would not be the least bit surprised if he pulled it off. May the best man win!

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Article posted on 09.12.2008

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