Lee Groves

10: Greatest light heavyweight title fights

9. October 7, 2006 — Allstate Arena, Rosemont, Illinois — Tomasz Adamek W 12 Paul Briggs II

 

Setting the Scene: Seventeen-and-a-half months after the original, Adamek and Briggs moved their act 18 miles west to see whether Adamek could repeat his razor-thin triumph or if Briggs could exact revenge. Adamek had only one fight in the interim, a sixth-round knockout over Thomas Ulrich in Germany 12 months earlier while Briggs stopped Etianne Whitaker in five on the Adamek-Ulrich undercard and a fifth-round disqualification over Jose Alberto Clavero in Brisbane four months before the Adamek rematch.

What Happened: This was a fight with many shifts of fortune. Adamek controlled the first 100 seconds with long-armed volleys but all that changed when Briggs’ compact right over Adamek’s jab knocked the champ to the canvas for the first time in his career. Early in round two Adamek re-opened the left eye cut that bedeviled Briggs in fight one and his sharper combinations ruled the roost in the third and through most of the fourth. Briggs summoned a rally late in round four then swung the fight in the fifth through seventh by closing the gap and landing rights that bloodied Adamek’s nose and mouth.

The fight shifted again in the eighth when a swooping right sent Briggs reeling and the ninth produced two major swings. A low blow by Adamek prompted a one-minute time-out and a follow-up right to the ear buckled Briggs’ legs. A second low blow to the hip removed a point from Adamek’s score and Briggs consolidated his sudden advantage with several powerful rights. The action was so intense that HBO’s Larry Merchant quipped “it almost hurts my eyes to watch these guys fight.”

The lead continued to shift in rounds 10 and 11 as Adamek fired combinations in contrast to Briggs’ meatier but less frequent power shots. With the fight still in the balance, both went all out in the 12th. Adamek’s last-ditch burst in the final 30 seconds might have made the difference as he captured his second majority decision victory.

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