By Geoffrey Ciani: When Tomasz Adamek announced he was moving up to cruiserweight following his loss against Chad Dawson, many observers questioned the wisdom of his decision. After all, climbing from 175 pounds all the way to 200 pounds is one of the more difficult jumps in boxing. Adamek had already proven he was a championship caliber fighter at light heavyweight, but many doubted whether his skinny frame could handle the punches of stronger foes twenty-five pounds north of his ‘natural’ weight class. In retrospect, the move seems wiser than many first realized.
There were many question marks surrounding Adamek’s cruiserweight prospects. Chief amongst them, how would he carry the extra twenty-five pounds? Would it affect his stamina? Would it affect his punch output and his ability to throw effective combinations? Would his power hold up? Would the extra weight make him slower? Many of these questions were partially answered when Adamek made his cruiserweight debut against Luis Andres Pineda. Adamek looked sensational against Pineda en route to a seventh round stoppage, and it did not appear that the added weight had a significant impact on his speed, stamina, or overall athleticism.
The win against Pineda was impressive, but it was hardly indicative of how Adamek might fare against the behemoths carrying true cruiserweight power. His following contest against Josip Jalusic did little more to impress, despite his unanimous shutout victory on all three judge’s scorecards over the duration of the eight round match-up. Adamek’s first true test came last weekend when he was pitted against former undisputed champion, O’Neil Bell. Bell had not fought since back-to-back battles against Jean Marc Mormeck, and even though he had not fought in over a year, he clearly represented the biggest test for Adamek in his new division. Adamek’s performance against Bell was perceived as a true indicator of his real potential in his cruiserweight endeavors.
Adamek started at a measured pace, clearly intending to box his way to victory. After a typically tentative opening, where each fighter began feeling out the other, Adamek scored a knockdown when he caught Bell leaning in with a thunderous right hand. Bell did not appear seriously hurt, but the punch definitely caught his attention and made him respect Adamek’s power in the early going. From here, Adamek proceeded to outbox Bell over the next six rounds, using his superior craftsmanship to stay out of harm’s way, avoiding most of the big blows delivered by the hard-hitting American.
After seven rounds, O’Neil decided he had enough and refused to answer the bell for the eighth round. I was actually surprised that Bell chose not to continue. Although he was repeatedly stung by booming rights delivered by Adamek, he never seemed in serious trouble and never appeared on the brink of being knocked out. It even appeared as if Adamek might be vulnerable to Bell’s right hand, so I was surprised someone with his type of power was not willing to hang around and see what type of opportunities might present themselves. Then again, it is easy for me to say that, being I was not on the receiving end of Adamek’s punches.
This was a big win for Adamek which establishes him as a major player in the division. This was an IBF eliminator bout, so it is only a matter of time before Adamek squares off against Steve “USS” Cunningham in a title bid that should prove to be a very competitive and entertaining contest. Cunningham is a slick fighter with great skills and good power, and in many ways, his style reminds me of Adamek’s. With David Haye preparing to make the jump to heavyweight, the winner of the Adamek-Cunningham bout might be in a position to rule the weight class for the foreseeable future. I, for one, cannot wait for the Adamek-Cunningham showdown later this year.
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