Thursday, December 11 is a big day for boxing. One man will have a chance to gain the universal recognition he deserves, another to prove he belongs, a new undisputed World Champion will be crowned, and finally, an unappreciated division will have a chance at the spotlight.
This Thursday, Steve Cunningham (21-1, 11 KO) and Tomasz Adamek (35-1, 24 KO) will square off in New Jersey for “The Ring” Magazine’s undisputed Cruiserweight Championship of the world. This fight mixes old themes and highlights—a new trend that we, as boxing fans, should all be paying attention to.
For the last few years Steve Cunningham, a cagey and tough Philadelphia boxer, has been fighting internationally because Cruiserweights aren’t a big enough draw in America.
He has also been winning and has been ranked No.1 contender by “The Ring” magazine for almost a full calendar year. He has proven himself over and over again as one of the best 200 lb fighters in the world, yet only earned an alphabet strap this year. He has the opportunity to claim the vacant Cruiserweight title by beating the No.2 contender, Tomasz Adamek.
If you can’t guess from his name, Adamek is a polish brawler who also fought mostly in Europe earning acclaim as a powerful Light-heavyweight before moving to New Jersey and moving up to cruiser.
His short rise through Cruiserweight ranking is meteoric to say the least, capped off by a knockout victory over former undisputed champion O’neil Bell this summer. Adamek may continue that meteoric rise by defeating Cunningham on the 11th.
Also, this fight pits a boxer against a slugger, an old but reliable combination that not only provides easy effective publicity, but has produced some of the most thrilling fights in history (Marciano-Walcott, Robinson-LaMotta, Ali-Frazier, and Leonard-Hearns).
Another thing to consider, is that although not modern Heavyweights, these two warriors are 200 pound fighters who can hit, and hit hard.
My final point is this: With the Klitschko brothers maintaining a stranglehold on the Heavyweight ranks, no foreseeable chance at an undisputed champion, and the dearth of quality contenders, who really needs the Heavyweight division?
Vitali Klitscho’s victory over Samuel Peter is the Heavyweight highlight of the last three years, and it was a boring fight. In that time, O’neil Bell, Jean-Mark Mormeck, and David Haye have turned in good, exciting performances against one another.
Consider also that Cruiserweights today most resemble the greats of yesteryear, Jack Dempsey (190 lbs), Joe Louis (195 lbs), Rocky Marciano (187 lbs), and Joe Frazier (200 lbs) would all have fallen into the 200 pound division today.
Muhammad Ali was also close to 200 pounds (Fighting between 205 and 210) during his prime years in the sixties. Plus, the Super-heavies of yesteryear (Willard, Firpo, and Carnera) were terrible to say the least.
Whatever you do this week, remember that a real Heavyweight division although not so named, with real fighters, will put on a real championship bout on December 11 at 8:00 PM on Versus. Something that the so named Heavyweight division has not done in years.