Tomasz Adamek and Steve Cunningham define class.
The two veteran boxers will fight for the second time on Saturday night. In their first meeting, judges gave Adamek the nod in a split decision.
The stereotypical boxer would’ve been bitter about the ruling, especially when it cost him the IBF title. But in the pre-fight press conference, neither could’ve answered questions any more professionally.
When they were asked which round the fight would end in, both of them deflected the question: Cunningham said that he doesn’t make predictions, while Adamek answered (via ProBoxing-Fans.com), “Only God knows what will happen on Saturday.”
How many fighters would’ve predicted a victory in their favor by knockout for the sake of their pride?
For crying out loud, Floyd Mayweather has talked so much pre-fight garbage to Manny Pacquiao,, and there’s never even been a fight scheduled. Is that just Mayweather’s swagger, or is it a lack of the same discipline that Adamek and Cunningham pride themselves on?
When Cunningham was asked if the fight was personal, he denied such a notion, stressing that Adamek won and said (via ProBoxing-Fans.com):
I don't have any hate or anger. Shoot, I was rooting for him in some of his fights. We have much respect for the man and his team, but we have to face each other again. No hard feelings. It's the business. It's what we do. We put on a show for America and hopefully they accept it, and enjoy it.
Compare and contrast that reaction to Juan Manuel Marquez’s after he went 0-2-1 against Pacquiao in their first three fights. Cunningham said (via ProBoxing-Fans.com), “The first fight he won fair and square. Two judges said he won, and one said I did. He gets the decision.” Marquez, on the other hand, vehemently claimed victory over PacMan.
In boxing, professionalism isn’t nearly as marketable as trash talk. But perhaps because of that, it’s always refreshing to see fighters hold themselves to a higher standard.
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.