Former light heavyweight and cruiserweight titleholder Tomasz Adamek said that he will be “a different” and “stronger” fighter for his Dec. 22 clash with ex-RING 200-pound champion Steve Cunningham than the one who handed Cunningham the second loss of his career by split-decision for the IBF’s cruserweight belt on Dec. 11, 2008.
“I am a different fighter than I was in 2008,” said Adamek (47-2, 29 knockouts), who will meet Cunningham (25-4, 12 KOs) in a Main Events-promoted clash of 36-year-olds on NBC from the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem, in Bethlehem, Pa.
“I’ve changed everything. Everyone can see. I don’t stand straight in front of my opponent anymore and I move my head. I am stronger.”
Adamek is coming off September’s fifth-round stoppage over journeyman Travis Walker, whom he faced at The Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
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.
“If Cunningham thinks that he will able to do the same things he did against Adamek four years ago, he will have very unpleasant surprise,” said Adamek’s trainer, Roger Bloodworth. “Adamek is a very different fighter right now; maybe even a completely different fighter altogether.”
On the Adamek-Walker undercard, Cunningham, of Philadelphia, made his heavyweight debut with a unanimous decision over Jason Gavern.
“Cunningham against Gavern? First fight as a heavyweight, sure motivation was there, but there will be a different motivation when Cunningham steps into the ring across from Adamek. Nothing against Jason, he’s a tough fighter who comes to fight every time,” said Bloodworth.
“But it was nothing personal for Steve. It will be personal against Adamek, so we expect Cunningham to do everything better this time. Much better. In 2008, Adamek, who was not a favorite, not only took his IBF belt, but also recognition of being undisputed cruiserweight champ. I’m sure Steve remembers the feeling.”
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 to Adamek ended a winning streak at three straight for Cunningham, who is trained by Naazim Richardson and whose previous setback had been against Adamek.
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.
“There’s already something different in the air. I can feel it,” said Adamek. “This is my best training camp ever and I’m really hungry for boxing. I know that this fight will be very personal for Cunningham. And being on NBC, with millions watching, it will be something special.”
The main event and co-feature will be broadcast on NBC network TV beginning 4PM ET, and the card is presented by Main Events and Ziggy Promotions in association with Peltz Boxing and DiBella Entertainment.
Photo by Mike Gladysz
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com