Cunningham-Adamek: Did Public Really Appreciate This Fight?

Tomasz AdamekBy Jason Peck: We hear a lot of complaining about the sport nowadays. There’s no great match-ups, and no great fights like they used to have them back in the days of [insert bygone era here]. Recently we watched such a great fight. But it to seems to have been forgotten in record time.

Steve Cunnignham and Tomasz Adamek proved the Golden Boy theory of promotions wrong: You don’t need good looks, mainstream appeal or an HBO series to stage an amazing brawl. But a week later I’m baffled by the lukewarm reception this inspired scrap has received from the boxing public. You would think the haters would quit it about a “dying” sport after such a scuffle. Why haven’t they?

Maybe I’m wrong here. Maybe Cunningham-Adamek was so damned good that no discussion is needed. On the other hand, this is probably a depressing commentary on how susceptible people are to hype and name recognition over talent and meaning.

Had the De La Hoya-Pacquiao farce five days earlier been nearly as competitive as Cunningham-Adamek, we’d have people swearing off MMA and declaring that Oscar had “saved” boxing, as he usually pledges to do. That’s because by the time the bell rings people have been systematically conditioned to attach all this meaning to a fight that doesn’t deserve it for no other reason than the fact that a popular fighter is involved. Those fighters who are UN-popular can go to hell.

I’ve seen this principle in action. Last year I watched De La Hoya-Mayweather in a sports bar surrounded by people who I could safely say knew nothing about boxing outside of the Ali and Tyson fights they never watched in the first place. Consequently, the paid attention only when the main attraction actually began.

Of course, that meant that everyone missed out on the excellent undercard between super bantamweights Ray Bautista and Sergio Medina. Nobody – even those few who actually enjoyed Oscar and Floyd’s sparring session – can deny that Bautista and Medina put on a fight that was far more spirited, far more competitive, and far more action-packed than the main event. But who the hell cares about Bautista and Medina? They had no HBO special.

And so no one paid attention to what was actually the best fight of the evening. I suppose that among lesser-known fighters a fantastic performance doesn’t count, because not being a household name is usually grounds for the fighter in question to be dismissed as a “garbage” fighter.

As a matter of fact, why aren’t people talking about the fact that Versus – a piddling, forgettable cable station – successfully staged a far better fight card than HBO did the week previously? And for free, too. Not only was Cunningham-Adamek a sight to behold, the undercard bout between Joseph Agbeko and William Gonzalez was likewise tremendously entertaining. Hopefully they’ll schedule a rematch.

Why aren’t people hungering for more of these fights? Why didn’t any of the players involved get the career boosts that such battles are supposed to bring? I really want to know what’s going to happen to either Cunningham or Adamek next. Do you? And why aren’t people wondering what would have happened to David Haye had he fought either one of them before moving up to heavyweight? There’s little doubt that the end result of either fight would have been far more challenging than the Maccarinelli fight – and far more satisfying.

Unlike most super-fights, Cunningham and Adamek’s very meaningful bout had lasting impacts and cruiserweight supremacy on the line. What does this mean for the future of the division, which currently has most of its belts ready for the taking? What kind of match-ups can be made now? Are they also going to be on Versus? Better that than HBO, I suppose.

I know the real boxing fans are out there, who actually follow the sport and hunger for flavor of old-school, no-bullshit bouts that Cunningham-Adamek brought to a starving audience. All you have to do is ask.

Article posted on 19.12.2008

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