NEW YORK (Feb. 19, 2009) – A no-nonsense, non-stop action fighter who makes for “Fight of the Year” candidates more often than most, Tomasz Adamek returns to SHOWTIME to defend his International Boxing Federation (IBF) cruiserweight title against undefeated Johnathon Banks in the main event Friday, Feb. 27, on ShoBox: The New Generation (live at 11 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the west coast)..
How exciting is the aggressive-minded Adamek? Three of his last nine fights have been legitimate candidates for “Fight of the Year”. So will Adamek-Banks turn out to be another “Fight of the Year” nominee?
“You never know, you’ll just have to watch and see,’’ said Adamek, a quiet, humble man outside the ring who turns into a raging tiger inside. “I come to fight and give my best and put on a show for the fans. It’s all about winning and I will do whatever it takes to win.’’
Adamek (36-1, 24 KOs), of Jersey City, N.J., by way of Poland, will be making the first defense of his IBF title against Detroit’s Banks (20-0, 14 KOs), the IBF’s No. 8-ranked contender who is managed and trained by Hall of Famer Emanuel Steward, at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
In the 12-round ShoBox co-feature, Giovanni Lorenzo (26-1, 18 KOs), of New York City via the Dominican Republic, will be opposed by Dionisio Miranda (19-3-2, 17 KO’s) of Barranquilla, Colombia, in an IBF middleweight elimination bout. The winner could be next in line to challenge champion Arthur Abraham.
The event is promoted by Main Events and Ziggy Promotions, in association with K2 Promotions. Tickets, priced from $38, can be purchased at The Prudential Center box office, by visiting its website (www.prucenter.com) or by calling Ticketmaster (201) 507-8900. Non-televised undercard bouts begin at 8:30 p.m. ET.
“Adamek is so all-action and relentless, it’s inconceivable he could be in a boring fight, but it’s his vulnerabilities — he’s hard to miss — that make him so appealing and fun to watch,’’ ShoBox play-by-play announcer Nick Charles said. “Because of that give-and-take style, you don’t want to get caught looking away during an Adamek fight.’’
Two notable Adamek slugfests came in victories over Paul Briggs in May 2005 and again in October 2007 (on SHOWTIME). The third came in his last start when he upset defending champion and previously unbeaten Steve Cunningham to capture the IBF 200-pound title on Dec. 11, 2008.
“Adamek has established himself as clearly the best fighter in his division and not many top fighters can say that,’’ ShoBox expert analyst Steve Farhood said. “He’s been consistently crowd-pleasing in two divisions. Against a puncher like Banks, there’s every reason to believe that this will be highly entertaining, just like Adamek’s fight with Steve Cunningham.’’
A former World Boxing Council (WBC) light heavyweight champion, Adamek registered three knockdowns yet narrowly outpointed Cunningham on Dec. 11, 2008, at the Prudential Center.
Adamek, a 3-1 underdog, was triumphant in a scorching 36-minute argument characterized by numerous give-and-take exchanges and significant swings in momentum by the scores of 116-110, 115-112 and 112-114.
The punishing, epic battle with Cunningham not only was one of the most exhilarating of ‘08 but one of the most exciting championship fights in the history of the division. Only the instant classic, historic first fight between Evander Holyfield and Dwight Muhammad Qawi may have been better. (Incidentally, that 1987 bout was promoted by Main Events and aired on SHOWTIME)
By outlasting Cunningham in a remarkable display of courage and guts, the granite-chinned, six-foot-two-and-a-half-inch, 32-year-old Adamek remained undefeated as a cruiserweight and became one of the very few Polish fighters to win world titles in two divisions
“I’m really looking forward to fighting again on SHOWTIME at the Prudential Center,” said Adamek, whose only defeat came on a decision in a hard-fought contest to unbeaten southpaw Chad Dawson in February 2007 on SHOWTIME. “Banks packs a mean punch, but I’ll be ready. This will be a great fight.’’
Banks has made the vast majority of his starts in the United States, but he is much more well-known and popular in Germany where he is the main sparring partner for world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko. He has appeared on the same cards as Klitschko, who also is trained by Steward.
“If I were in Germany, it’d be a whole bunch of people waiting for me to sign autographs,” said the confident, hard-hitting Banks, who will provide Adamek with a stern challenge. If triumphant, Banks will become the 31st ShoBox alum to attain a world title.
In his last outing, the six-foot-3, 26-year-old Banks scored a 12-round majority decision over Vincenzo Rossitto of Italy in a match for the International Boxing Organization (IBO) cruiserweight crown on July 12, 2008, in Hamburg, Germany.
An accomplished amateur at 178 pounds, Banks also makes for excellent scraps. His most noteworthy victory may have been against Eliseo Castillo when he rallied from two first-round knockdowns to flatten the Cuban in the fourth round of a thriller in July 2006.
“Adamek, we know, is an aggressive, rough, tough fighter,’’ Steward said. “Banks is a guy that fights up to his competition. Adamek’s got to be the favorite. But when you have a puncher (Banks) in there you’ll be surprised. I think Banks is a better puncher than Cunningham. I think it’s going to be an exciting fight.
“Banks knows he can’t try to box and run for 12 rounds so he’s not going to do it.”
The aforementioned Charles will call the ShoBox action with Farhood serving as expert analyst. The executive producer of ShoBox is Gordon Hall with Richard Gaughan producing and Rick Phillips directing.
Ireland’s Iron man Mannion to be honoured in Madison Square Garden
World Title mania has made a long overdue return to Ireland.
Bernard Dunne’s WBA Super Bantamweight clash with Ricardo “El Maestrito” Cordoba has put world championship boxing back on the Irish radar.
It’s not just the Dubliners upcoming shot at a coveted world crown that has caught the public imagination, however as the pending March 21 fight has forced people to reflect on great boxing days of yester year.
With World Title fight talk in the air fans and pundits alike have began to reminisce and romanticise about Irish fighters previous attempts to be crowned kings of the boxing world.
The fact, like Dunne, a Panamanian pugilist was the final hurdle between Barry MaGuigan and his world title dream has drawn obvious comparisons but pubs, papers and pundits have all been full of reminiscent debate of fighters who put Ireland on the world boxing map.
Tales of Steve Collin’s defeat of Chris Eubank in Mill Street are once more warming Irish hearts, as are those of Wayne McCullough’s WBC World Championship title defeat of champion Yasuei Yakushiji in Nagoya, Japan.
The Pocket Rockets failed bid’s to take titles held by Daniel Zaragoza, Erik Morales and particularly Prince Naseem have also been regaled. And there has even been some murmurs of Dave Boy McCauley, Rinty Monaghan, Nonpareil Jack Dempsey and Packy Mclarlinn and their world title escapades amongst boxing enthusiasts.
It has been a very exciting history lesson in Irish contenders, but one man, who more than deserves to be mentioned alongside Irish greats and his shot at world glory, seems to have been left out of the proud recollection.
RosMuc native Sean Mannion isn’t as much the forgotten man but the man unknown to his own, as his brilliant boxing career is rarely recognised on the Emerald Isle.
But fortunately for a true boxing legend his greatest achievement has not gone unnoticed by all. Mannion will be honored by Eddie McLoughlin and Irish Ropes for an historic accomplishment in Madison Square Garden on the Erin Go Brawl March 16 2009 fight night which sees Andy Lee and Wayne McCullough in action.
Twenty five years after he clashed with the now legendary Mike McCallum for the WBA lightmiddleweight world title, in fight that had more drama attached to it than any Rocky movie, Manion will be honored for giving a modern day legend one of the fights of his life.
The Bodysnatcher, McCallum, who is generally talked about with a reverence reserved for true pugilist greats was three time three weight world champion and a boxer who ensured greatness in an era when the middleweight divisions were packed full of some of the sports biggest stars.
The likes of Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Thomas ‘Hitman’ Hearns and ‘Hands of Stones’ Roberto Duran, fighters who are still household names, were all competing around 11 stone at the time. Hence creating one of the most competitive divisions of all time second only to the brilliant heavyweight scene of Ali, Forman, Frasier and co.
So it is ironic a fighter that earned a world title shot in such a talented punching pool- and did so in a time before the alphabetic belts- and is respected world wide has never really got the respect he deserves outside boxing enthusiast in his own country.
But hours before Ireland’s national day in a Garden he packed with Irish people from Boston and across America 25 years ago, gaelgoir Sean Mannion, who up and until recently has been working on building sites, and his shot at world glory with a true boxing legend will not just be remembered but honoured.
“It is a big honour to have the fight remembered in the Garden. It’s a great honour to be in the ring at the Garden anytime. I really appreciate Eddie McLoughlin and Irish Ropes for honouring the fight 25 years later,” Mannion explained.
“I know a lot of people don’t know much about that fight, but then again there are a lot who still talk to me about it. Younger boxing fans wouldn’t be aware of it, but that’s boxing unless you are like Mohammad Ali or Roberto Duran you are forgotten when you finish. It is a case of when your finished your finished,” added the man who former trainer Angelo Dundee claimed he could have made a World Champion if he had got the chance to work with him earlier.
“But it will be great to step into the ring in front of a packed Madison Square Garden once more. I haven’t been there since I fought McCallum. I am really looking forward to it and there are all ready a few coming to see me.”
Mannion might have some support in boxing’s most famous venue come March 16 but the majority of the sell out crowd will be there to see the return of the Pocket Rocket and Irish prospect Andy Lee. That wasn’t the case in 1984, however when Mannion was the main draw. The Garden was packed with an Irish support, which has subsequently been praised by McCallum. Legend has it the famous stadium had to open five hours early to let the partisan crowd in. It has also been reported the surrounding pubs did roaring trade, as numerous disappointed potential punters had ticket money to spare on drink, seen as they couldn’t get into the packed arena.
“Other than the fight the one thing I remember is the crowd. There was a huge Irish support in the Garden that night. They had to put on five extra trains from Boston there was that much interest from there. There was also people from all over the States turning up and some from RosMuc and Conemara. It really was an amazing crowd,” Mannion added before reflecting on how the famous fight came about.
“I got the title shot after I beat the number one contender, a Korean, E-Choi-Back who was 26-0 with all his wins coming by knock out. He was a rising star and I beat him well. He went on to be a world champion and had 43 knock outs in his 47 fights but he wouldn’t fight me down the line. That win made me the number one contender and I got my shot. I got a nasty cut in training though, and I had to get seven stitches over my eye. So before that fight I couldn’t spar. In hindsight I should have postponed but my manager didn’t want to know. My brother, who was my trainer at the time, wanted me to pull out but I was afraid my chance at a title would be gone. In fairness to McCallum he had a more horrific build up his girlfriend and mother of his young child died three months before the fight while he was in training camp. I don’t know how he climbed in the ring after that. I certainly wouldn’t have been able too.”
Regardless McCallum’s tragedy and Mannion’s lack of sparing the bout went ahead, and the Rosmuc man claims after 15 action packed rounds he knew he was beaten by a man that would become know as a great.
“McCallum is regularly ranked as one of the top ten fighters of all time and I knew he was good after I fought him. He was the most skilful fighter I every fought. He was crafty and so hard to box. People always say I was a brawler and a hard nut, but I could box too, and honestly he out boxed me that night. He deserved to win. I did catch him in the ninth and his legs buckled but that’s as close as I got. He stopped the likes of Julian Jackson and Don Curry in his career. I know Haggler and Durran sparred him and as a result they wouldn’t fight him after that. Emanuel Stewart, who worked with near on 30 world champions, also said McCallum was the best he ever worked with. In one way I feel proud to have fought and lasted the distance with such a great fighter and in another way it’s a pity my shot at a world title was against such a great fighter.”
That sense of pride didn’t exist directly after the fight, however. Mannion was depressed after the defeat. He wanted to win the title for himself and do well for Ireland and pride wouldn’t allow him claim any moral victory. After the fight the Pugilistic careers took very diverse paths. McCallum discovered riches and achieved icon status while the only belts Mannion donned were the one’s to hold up his building trousers. The Irish Westerner’s career albeit distinguished was hampered by poor management.
“Directly after the fight I was depressed I really wanted to win not just for me but for Ireland. Talks did immediately begin with Roberto Duran. I would have loved that fight, but it didn’t come off. After that I had to work on the building sites to get money and I never made the money I should have from the game. I was getting 2000-3000 per fight and I was screwed left right and centre, and despite fighting three more one time world champions I never got a shot at a title.”
After retiring Mannion eventually made his way back to Ireland and is now back in the game hoping create world champions. The Connemara man is currently working with ‘Irish Mike’ Sweeney, a fighter that is under the guidance of Banner Promotions and Tommy Egan Promotions, and he claims he is delighted to be back involved in boxing.
“I am back in the game now, and I am delighted to be so. I love boxing and hopefully this time I can make a bit of money out of it. But I will only work with people who are serious I don’t like anyone who isn’t serious. Boxing is a hard game and it takes a special breed to be successful at it. Michael is great to work with and he has talent. With a bit of luck he can make it to the top. He has a great chance, I wish when I was fighting I had Art Pelullo Banner Promotions and Tommy Egan behind me,’ he concluded.
“Sean Mannion, to those knowledgeable in the fight game is known as the toughest Irish fighters of all time. He is fondly remembered all over the America but particularly along the East Coast. He is a humble man with a great boxing record he had 59 pro fights although his record says 57 and he never once went down. He also fought five world champions in non title fights beating two of them. A lot of boxing experts have him as the hardest and toughest Irish fighter since the great Irish American World Heaveyweight Champion John L Sullivan. It is a pity Sean’s distinguished career didn’t get the recognition it deserved in Ireland. His fights were never seen on television or covered in any great detail in Ireland. We want to ensure that never happens again. The Art Pelullo Banner Promotions and Tommy Egan Promotions agreement allows Irish fighters to fight in the States and still allow the people of Ireland follow their careers with selected shows broadcast and Irish Television.
“Fair play to Eddie McLoughlin and Irish Ropes for honouring Sean and remembering that great fight with McCallum. Sean will be in Michael Sweeney’s corner in Illinois on March 20 on an Art Pelullo Banner Promotions show and we are more than delighted to have him as part of the team,” boxing manager and Sean Mannion fan and friend Tommy Egan explained.