Tomasz Adamek’s edge in hand speed was a factor in his victories over much-bigger heavyweights, such as Kevin McBride (right). Adamek says he did not use his speed against Vitali Klitschko but promises to do so against Eddie Chambers.
JERSEY CITY, N.J. – As former light heavyweight and cruiserweight champion Tomasz Adamek winds down following an afternoon training session at the World Boxing and Fitness Center, he notices himself in the mirror. Despite weighing around 220 pounds – nearly 40 pounds over the weight he first turned pro at in 1999 – his figure is as cut and defined as it has ever been.
Then, glancing over at one the many posters featured at the gym for his June 16 fight against Eddie Chambers at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., Adamek throws a quick one-two combination confidently.
“I will win because I have speed,” said Adamek (45-2, 28 knockouts), a 35-year-old native of Zywiec, Poland, who now resides in Kearny, N.J.
At this stage, Adamek’s current path doesn’t quite constitute a comeback, but the heavyweight contender is fighting to reestablish himself following a one-sided tenth round TKO loss to the far larger WBC heavyweight titleholder Vitali Klitschko last September in Adamek’s home country.
“We screwed up, there’s no doubt about it,” said Adamek’s trainer Roger Bloodworth, looking back at the Klitschko fight. Among the decisions they regret is traveling to Poland just 10 days before the fight, which he says made it difficult for them to acclimate to the climate.
“Having said that, I don’t know if it would have made a big difference in that fight because I felt it was a little too soon for him to be fighting the Klitschkos,” continued Bloodworth, a veteran trainer from the St. Louis, Mo., area. “But people forget that boxing is a business. If we waited another year, that fight might not have been there. I think the loss has really helped Tomasz a lot. He came to my house and we watched the films. As you saw his last fight he changed his style up quite a bit. He changed his stance; he became more Americanized after that fight.
“He learned that he had to change things. Tomasz is a very bright guy, he doesn’t argue with the truth. That fight was the truth, he wasn’t ready.”
Adamek rebounded this past March with a unanimous decision win over underachieving journeyman Nagy Aguilera in Brooklyn, surviving rough patches to dominate on the scorecards. That performance has helped recoup some of his lost confidence.
“Everybody saw last September that I was very slow. When I came back in my last fight with Aguilera, that was the true Tomasz Adamek,” he said. “I was fast, I landed a lot of punches and I won this fight. Speed is my asset. I was slow in the fight with Klitschko and that’s why I lost.”
In Chambers (36-2, 18 KOs), Adamek has a counterpart who can identify with his struggles with the Klitschkos. The 30-year-old Philadelphian faced Vitali’s younger brother Wladimir in 2010 for Klitschko’s IBF/WBO titles in his only title opportunity to date, losing by a knockout with just five seconds remaining in the 12th round.
Chambers is about an inch shorter and weighed 14 pounds lighter for his last bout 14 months ago against Derric Rossy than Adamek did for his most recent bout (208 to Adamek’s 222.5), making it a rare instance where Adamek has a size advantage over an opponent. However, what Chambers lacks in size, he makes up for in speed.
“Eddie’s speed could throw off Tomasz, but Tomasz’s speed could throw off Eddie,” says Bloodworth. “Eddie’s a fast fighter but also Tomasz is a fast fighter. Ultimately I think it’s going to come down to who has the most determination and will in this fight. Eddie may be underestimating Tomasz’s speed a little bit. Tomasz can put them together when he wants to.”
Adamek and Chambers are small heavyweights in an era dominated by the giant Ukrainians. Yet as the most dominant brother tandem in boxing history continues to age, both have their eyes set on a goal that becomes far more attainable once the Klitschkos hang them up for good.
“I don’t think the pressure is off of him personally because it’s a goal of his,” said Bloodworth of Adamek’s hunt to become the first heavyweight champion from his country. “I think he still has that pressure on himself and that goal. If he doesn’t reach it it won’t crush him because he’s a strong person. But he’ll give it 100 percent trying.”
Ryan Songalia is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and contributes to GMA News and the Filipino Reporter newspaper in New York City. He is also a member of The Ring ratings panel. He can be reached at email@example.com. An archive of his work can be found at www.ryansongalia.com. Follow him on Twitter: @RyanSongalia.