Thomasz Adamek (left) and Steve Cunningham exchange punches during their cruiserweight fight on Thursday in Newark, N.J. Photo / Don King Productions
The boxing world gained a new world champion on Thursday when Tomasz Adamek picked up the vacant THE RING cruiserweight title with his breath-taking, split-decision victory over beltholder and RING-rated No.1 contender Steve Cunningham.
Adamek replaced former RING champ David Haye, who vacated his position as the ruler of the cruiserweights when he moved up to the heavyweight division earlier this year. While Adamek lacks the bombastic personality and explosive power of the British puncher, the native of Poland possesses many traits worthy of a RING champion – an iron will and chin to match, superb conditioning, sound fundamentals, sharp offensive technique and an exciting style that thrilled the Polish fans who filled the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., last week.
Adamek (36-1, with 24 knockouts) can punch a little bit, too, as the three knockdowns he scored against Cunningham during their back-and-forth barnburner attest.
Before stepping up to the cruiserweight division, Adamek had established himself as one of the best light heavyweights in the world with two Fight of the Year-candidate brawls with Australia’s Paul Briggs and a sixth-round stoppage of Germany’s Thomas Ulrich.
After losing a unanimous decision (as well as a light heavyweight title) to ultra-talented Chad Dawson last February, Adamek wasted no time in getting back in the ring as a 200 pounder and winning four consecutive fights, including a dominating eighth-round stoppage of former RING champ O’Neil Bell, to earn a No. 2 RING rating.
Adamek’s victory over Cunningham proved that the proud Pole, who is now based in Jersey City, N.J., can be as exciting at cruiserweight as he was at light heavyweight and can possibly be built into a bona fide regional attraction.
Let’s take a look at how Adamek’s advance from contender to world champ affected the rest of THE RING’s cruiserweight ratings, as well as movement in other divisions.
As a result of his strong showing in a losing effort, Cunningham (21-2, 11 KOs) was kept at No. 1. All cruiserweights listed No. 3 or below last week were moved up one spot each. Unbeaten B.J. Flores (21-0-1, 13 KOs) breaks into the ratings at No. 10.
Ghana’s Joseph Agbeko (26-1, 22 KOs), who defended his a 118-pound title with a hard-fought majority decision over William Gonzalez on the Cunningham-Adamek undercard, jumped from No. 6 to No. 5, trading places with inactive fellow beltholder Gerry Penalosa (53-6-2, 36 KOs), who slipped from No. 5 to No. 6. Former titlist Luis Perez 25-3, 16 KOs), who has lost his last two fights, was removed from the No. 10 spot and replaced by Gonzalez (21-3, 19 KOs), who gave Agbeko a tough fight.
Two Japan-based former titleholders Yutaka Niida (No. 3 last week) and Eagle Kyowa (No. 5 last week) have retired and thus were dropped from the ratings, leading to a major shakeup among the 105-pounders:
Thailand’s Oleydong Sithsamerchai (29-0, 12 KOs) advanced from No. 4 to No. 3, moving all strawweights rated No. 6 through No. 10 last week up two rungs each. Nicaragua’s Juan Palacios (25-2, 20 KOs) and Colombia’s Ronald Barrera (26-5, 16 KOs) debuted at No. 9 and No. 10, respectively.