Before anyone jumps on me for this headline, maybe the word “steals” is a little harsh. Even calling Tomasz Adamek’s fourth-round knockdown of Steve Cunningham lucky would be a stretch. But at the very least it was fortuitous.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Adamek, the undisputed Cruiserweight champion of the world, and Steve Cunningham have just turned in a “Fight of the Year” candidate tonight on Versus.
After a tentative start, a surprising, or rather unexpected, second, third, and fourth rounds, the two warriors got down to brass tacks and beginning in the tenth, the two traded shot for shot for the last three rounds.
The surprises of the second and fourth rounds were one-punch knockdowns on the part of Tomasz Adamek. In both rounds he absorbed everything Cunningham could lay on him only to lay out the number one contender with evil right hands.
Cunningham spent the first half of the fight in a tentative defensive shell, jabbing awkwardly, backing up, and sneaking in right hands where he could.
The fourth was not so, however, as for the first two minutes Cunningham had Adamek wobbled and laid every uppercut and right hand he had on the battling Pole in an attempt to stop the fight early.
Unfortunately for the Philadelphian, Adamek’s jaw has a consistency somewhere between granite and reinforced concrete. Adamek weathered the assault and in the last 20 seconds, floored Cunningham with a right hand that resembled an 18-inch artillery shell.
From the fifth to the ninth, Cunningham took control of the fight and won most of those rounds, but Adamek was able to force the tempo up. Then in the ninth, late in the round again, Adamek caught Cunningham with a mean right cross and Cunningham found himself on the canvas for the third time (sort of).
From then forward, the fight was on. The last four rounds were ebb and flow, punch for punch, toe to toe action. In fact, rounds 10 through 12 could all be given to either fighter.
I gave two of them to Cunningham, with one even, but I had $10 riding on the American. After the 12th both men embraced and then retired to their corners for the decision, which is really the important part of this fight.
First off, Steve Cunningham, an American, an American Veteran, at that, from Philadelphia, was facing a potential hometown decision against an immigrant in NEW JERSEY.
I am not suggesting that this was indeed a hometown decision, after all Adamek did score three knockdowns, but I am highlighting a curious condition of the fight. (Also 116-112 was a little wide of a margin, and guess who it went to?).
The scores came in 114-112 Cunningham, and 116-112, 115-113 Adamek, making the Pole the new world champion of 200-pound fighters. This is where that fourth round comes into play.
Up until the knockdown, the fourth was a 10-8 round for Cunningham. If he had not been knockdown, the scores would have been 116-110, 114-114, and 115-113 for Cunningham. But again, 116-110 would have been a huge margin for such a close fight.
Ultimately though, it doesn’t matter who you gave the fight to. This was a thrilling battle, of exceptionally talented fighters, that demands a rematch with Showtime or HBO as possible carriers.
While this fight deserves to be on the ballot for fight of the year, I don’t see it beating out Vazquez-Marquez III. The imminent rematch will most likely be as good considering the desire of Cunningham, the chin of Adamek, and the complementary nature of their styles.
All this together provides evidence to support the headline of the preview article for this fight. Who needs the Heavyweights?