At least Tomasz Adamek tried.
The former cruiserweight champ was hopelessly outsized and outclassed by Vitali Klitschko during their high-profile showdown in Wroclaw, Poland on Saturday, but the gutsy challenger refused to give up his dream of winning a major heavyweight title belt.
Thankfully, referee Massimo Barrovecchio made the right call to end the one-sided contest at 2:20 of the 10th round, giving Klitschko a TKO victory.
Adamek, who was rocked at the end of the second round and suffered a technical knockdown in the sixth, needed to be saved from his own bravery.
The 34-year-old veteran, who fought most of his career at light heavyweight, has the skill, tenacity and iron chin to overcome his size disadvantage against most heavyweights, even top contenders, but not the 6-foot-7, 243-pound giant he fought in front of 45,000 proud countrymen on Saturday.
Klitschko (43-2, 40 knockouts) is every bit as special as his younger brother, RING heavyweight champ Wladimir Klitschko. The Ukrainian brothers are not lumbering giants of the Primo Carnera or Nikolai Valuev variety.
They are athletic, technically sound, and very smart. They are as special as hall-of-fame-enshrined modern heavyweight giants, such as Lennox Lewis and George Foreman.
In fact, as HBO commentators Jim Lampley and Emanuel Steward pointed out during the U.S. broadcast of the fight, Klitschko fights much like Lewis, the last man to have defeated him, and Foreman.
The 40-year-old veteran, who made the seventh defense of his second WBC title reign, usually dominates his opposition just by using his consistent jab and punishing right hand, just as Lewis and Foreman often did. It was no different against Adamek (44-2, 28 KOs).
Klitschko landed 140 of 414 jabs and 90 of 194 power punches — mostly right hands — thrown during the 9 1/2 rounds. Adamek was willing and able to take the head-snapping shots, but it was clear from the beginning of the fight that the Polish hero would not be able to land any significant punches in return.
For starters, Adamek, who weighed in at 216 pounds, just isn’t big enough to hurt Klitschko, who is known for his granite chin. However, even if Adamek possessed Mike Tyson-like power, he wouldn’t have been able to connect with any flush punches.
Despite his size and power, Klitschko does not immediately try to physically impose himself on his opponents. The master's degree holder is an expert at boxing “tall” — using his height and reach to avoid exchanges — and he’s patient. He’s content with gradually breaking down his opponents, and Adamek, for all his toughness and courage, was no different from the other 39 fighters Klitschko has stopped.
There would be no David vs. Goliath scenario in Poland. This was a different situation from when David Haye, another former cruiserweight champ, took a major heavyweight title from Valuev, who was 99 pounds heavier.
Unlike Haye vs. Valuev, Adamek did not possess enough talent and skill to trump the size of his heavyweight nemesis. Just as Haye’s considerable athleticism was not enough to overcome Wladimir Klitschko’s size and talent during his one-sided and uneventful decision loss to the heavyweight champ in July. The brash Brit talked a good game in the two-year build up to the disappointing heavyweight event, but once the bell rang it was clear that he was not going to even try to back his big mouth up in the ring.
However, Adamek can hold his head high after his failed heavyweight title challenge. Unlike Haye, Adamek actually tried to fight his Klitschko. He was willing to take brain scrambling punches in order to land his own.
He was unsuccessful but he can say he gave it his all and that, technically speaking, he was never off his feet.
Adamek can also make for some very good heavyweight fights, particularly against Haye, Chris Arreola, who he out-pointed last April, and Alexander Povetkin. He might even one day achieve his dream of winning a major heavyweight belt.
It just won’t happen against a Klitschko.