Lee Groves

10: Greatest light heavyweight title fights

10. May 21, 2005 — United Center, Chicago — Tomasz Adamek W 12 Paul Briggs I

 

Setting the Scene: This fight was for the WBC title stripped from Antonio Tarver when he chose to fight Glen Johnson for the unofficial title of “best light heavyweight in the world” instead of facing mandatory challenger Briggs. The Australian-based New Zealander brought a 23-1 (17 KOs) record and a style befitting his “Hurricane” moniker to the fray while the number-three rated Adamek (28-0, 23 KO) was making his first appearance on U.S. soil. Sight unseen, the native of Zywiec, Poland was the overwhelming sentimental and nationalistic favorite for a crowd who was there to see Andrew Golota’s failed challenge to WBO heavyweight titleholder Lamon Brewster, which lasted a division record 52 seconds.

What Happened: The far taller Adamek started the fight popping Briggs from long range while Briggs landed several thumping overhand rights. An accidental butt early in round two opened a cut that bled copiously for the rest of the contest yet Briggs bravely fought through it as if nothing had happened. An electric one-two staggered Adamek in the third and by the fourth Briggs’ jabs swelled Adamek’s right eye and brought blood from his nose — a nose that had been broken two weeks earlier in training.

Adamek surged in the seventh behind quick-fisted combinations that turned Briggs’ face into a gruesome mask. Adamek’s visage didn’t look much better. The fight’s best action occurred in the eighth; two rights to the ear had Adamek stumbling forward into the ropes and another sizzling right rocked the Pole moments later. Adamek pulled himself together quickly and picked away with two- and three-punch bursts but Briggs nearly floored Adamek again with another wicked right with a minute remaining. The grueling war of attrition continued in the ninth but in the 10th Adamek found his salvation behind busy, point-scoring flurries that allowed him to pull away late. In the end, two judges voted for Adamek 117-113 and 115-113 while the other saw it 114-114.

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