By the time he enters the ring opposite former light heavyweight and cruiserweight titleholder Tomasz Adamek on Dec. 22, ex-RING 200-pound champion Steve Cunningham will have waited nearly four years to the day to avenge what was the second loss of his career.
“I wanted this rematch for a long time, especially right after the first fight, but it didn’t happen,” said Cunningham, a 36-year-old who lost his IBF belt by split decision to Adamek on Dec. 11, 2008.
“My career went on, his career went on, and now our paths cross again. I’m excited. I’m looking at this like it’s the first time we’re fighting.”
Adamek (47-2, 29 knockouts) will meet Cunningham (25-4, 12 KOs) in a Main Events-promoted show on NBC from the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem, in Bethlehem, Pa.
Adamek, 36, is coming off September’s fifth-round stoppage over journeyman Travis Walker, whom he faced at The Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
On the Adamek-Walker undercard, Cunningham, of Philadelphia, made his heavyweight debut with a unanimous decision over Jason Gavern.
Prior to facing Gavern, Cunningham was coming off a unanimous decision loss to IBF cruiserweight beltholder Yoan Pablo Hernandez, of Cuba, in a February rematch.
Hernandez-Cunningham II was an IBF-ordered return bout from October of last year which ended with a controversial sixth-round technical decision win for Hernandez in Germany. The loss ended Cunningham’s winning streak at three, having last tasted defeat against Adamek.
“I’m not looking for revenge. That’s not in me,” said Cunningham. “I’m just looking to win this fight and win it spectacularly. I’m just ready to fight. The time for talking is done.”
Cunningham’s trainer, Naazim Richardson, agrees.
“Steve is sharp. Usually going into each fight, there’s something that I’m a little uneasy with,” said Richardson. “But I really don’t have that going into this fight. I think we’re in a good place.”
Before losing to Adamek, Cunningham had won two straight: a majority decision over Krzysztof Wlodarczyk of Poland in May of 2007, and a 12th-round knockout of Marco Huck, who are the current WBC and WBO titleholders, respectively.
By defeating Wlodarczyk, Cunningham won the IBF belt for the first time and avenged a split-decision loss from November of 2006. Cunningham also already owns a split-decision victory over current WBA titlist Guillermo Jones from April of 2005.
Cunningham expressed his readiness for Adamek following Wednesday’s open workout at the Rock Ministries Gym, in the Kensington section of Philadelphia.
“Camp has been great,” said Cunningham. “I feel strong. I’ve been working with solid heavyweights like Chazz Witherspoon.”
Prior to Klitschko, Adamek had not lost in four years and seven months, the last man to defeat him being Chad Dawson by a unanimous decision that dethroned Adamek as WBC lightheavyweight beltholder in February 2007.
Adamek claims that he was weakened by extreme weight loss against Dawson, and rebounded with a seventh-round stoppage of cruiserweight Luis Andreas in his very next fight in June 2007.
Photos by Phillyboxinghistory.com
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org