This may not be a fourth fight between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez, but the Tomasz Adamek-Steve Cunningham rematch could be nearly as entertaining.
If their first fight was any indication, it will be. This time, they are fighting in Cunningham's backyard. Cunningham is a respected Philadelphia fighter and the crowd in Bethlehem, Pa. figures to be in his corner.
The bout will be televised as part of NBC's Fight Night series on Saturday, marking the second week in a row that network television will televise a mid-major boxing event. On December 15, CBS broadcasted Leo Santa Cruz's win over Alberto Guevara.
In 2008, Adamek and Cunningham battled in a spirited bout that saw Adamek win a split-decision and capture the IBF Cruiserweight crown. It was Cunningham's second defense and Adamek dropped him three times en route to the win.
Despite the knockdowns, Cunningham out-boxed and out-landed him. Still, he couldn't overcome the automatic point deductions for the knockdowns. Here are highlights of this great bout:
Since then, Adamek has tried and failed to tackle one-half of the Klitschko wall. Vitali Klitschko stopped him in the 10th round in September 2011.
Aside from that fight, Adamek is 12-0 since he defeated Cunningham.
After Adamek left the cruiserweight division, Cunningham regained the IBF title. He recently lost his title and the rematch to regain it to Yoan Pablo Hernandez. The latest bout with Hernandez took place in February. It was his last fight at cruiserweight.
Cunningham has made the jump to heavyweight to fight Adamek.
In a tune-up, he defeated journeyman Jason Gavern in September by decision, but his performance was less than stellar. We'll see if this fight renders different results.
Here's how you can watch and some deeper analysis into the rematch.
When: Saturday, December 22 at 4 p.m. ET
Where: Sands Casino Resort, Bethlehem, Pa.
The Book on Adamek
Tale of the Tape
Height: 6′ 1½″
Record: 47-2 (29 KOs)
Adamek is fighting the same losing battle that all the undersized heavyweights of this era are fighting: he simply doesn't have the size to defeat the Klitschkos.
This fight is perfect for him, as Cunningham is a overblown cruiserweight—just like Adamek.
In their first fight, Adamek overcame a speed and reach advantage to hurt Cunningham on several occasions.
He isn't the fastest fighter and he doesn't possess earth-shattering power—at least not against traditional heavyweights—but he has a tremendous chin and tons of heart.
He cuts off the ring well and never stops coming forward.
The Book on Cunningham
Tale of the Tape
Height: 6′ 3″
Record: 25-4 (12 KOs)
Cunningham has always been a masterful boxer, but he lacks the power to keep punchers at bay. He only had 12 KOs at cruiserweight and he struggled to slow Adamek in the first fight.
The prospects of him bringing power to the heavyweight division are slim to none. Cunningham will need to be extra slick, durable and smart to have success in the rematch and moving forward as a heavyweight.
This is going to be a very difficult task for him to overcome.
Adamek is going to stop Cunningham unless USS chooses to get on his bicycle throughout. That's an unlikely strategy as he never really steps away from a spirited fight.
Adamek has had more time to settle in as a heavyweight and he'll absorb Cunningham's punches even easier than he did in the first fight. Look for a stoppage near the sixth or seventh round.
Follow Brian Mazique and Franchiseplay on YouTube and Twitter for reactions, analysis and news from the world of sports and sports video games