By Jake Donovan
With his 37th birthday less than a month away, the writing is on the wall for Tomasz Adamek. The former two-division champion knows time isn’t on his side to attempt to add one more major title to his ledger before calling it a career.
It’s not like Adamek needs additional motivation to take his gym sessions seriously. Then again, every little bit helps.
“I train real hard for every fight, and training even harder for this fight,” insists Adamek (49-2, 29KO) of his upcoming showdown with unbeaten heavyweight Vyacheslav Glazkov, which takes place Saturday afternoon at Turning Stone Casino in Verona, New York. “Any heavyweight is capable of beating me and I am capable of beating any heavyweight.”
The scheduled 12-round bout to air live in a rare Saturday afternoon special edition of boxing on NBC (2:30PM ET), the third time in less than a year that boxing appears on the free network. Adamek has become a regular fixture on NBC Sports Network Fight Night shows, thanks to his alignment with Main Events, his stateside co-promoter and the primary feeder for the series now in its second year.
That relationship has led to the parent company, NBC, re-opening its doors to the pro game, with Adamek now headlining two of the three live telecasts having aired on the free network. His previous NBC appearance came last December, though not featuring the fondest of memories. Adamek scored a repeat win over Steve Cunningham, though a split decision many believed went horribly in the wrong direction.
Controversy aside, a path was cleared to eventually challenge for the heavyweight crown, but required a fight with top-rated Kubrat Pulev, with the winner of that fight to eventually challenge true heavyweight king Wladimir Klitschko.
Negotiations for the final eliminator never got off the ground; Adamek passed on the fight. The 90-day period in which to agree to terms and step in the ring would leave him with five fights in the span of 15 months, with the Pol and his handlers citing burnout and in dire need of an extended break from the ring.
The move turned out to be a break for the losing fighter, as Cunningham was afforded another opportunity at a voluntary elimination bout, once again fighting live on NBC. The American came dangerously close to knocking out Tyson Fury in front of a worldwide audience, but instead was stretched himself in suffering the lone knockout loss of his career.
It turned out that Adamek didn’t lose any time at all by sitting by and watching all of that develop; Fury himself chose to go in another direction other than towards a title shot. Meanwhile, Pulev is still waiting for a title shot more than a year later, having fought just once this year – a 12-round decision win over Tony Thompson which carried the right to next challenge the younger Klitschko brother.
Such a fight, should it pan out, wouldn’t conceivably take place any earlier than the first quarter of 2014. That gives Adamek time to get his ducks in a row, and his heavyweight dreams back on track beginning with this weekend’s showdown, which is where all of his focus lies.
“We’re looking at this fight. We never look into the future,” Adamek insists when asked of the possibilities of a win on Saturday leading to a title shot in his next fight. “We are only looking at Glazkov.”
There is good reason to not look far beyond the opponent in front of him. Unlike Adamek at this stage of the game, the 29-year old Glazkov has youth on his side and carries into the ring an unbeaten record. There are plenty who believe at least one loss should exist on his rèsumé, as the rising young heavyweight was considered fortunate to have escaped with a 10-round draw against Malik Scott earlier this year on NBC Sports Network.
Nevertheless, the former amateur standout – who captured Olympic Bronze for his native Ukraine in the 2008 Beijing Olympics – is considered a threat to most heavyweights these days, young or old.
Adamek recognizes the risk, but also sees the reward that comes with proper training and focus.
“I want to beat the best and continue to fight to become (heavyweight) champion. This is my next step,” Adamek points out.
A win would give the still relevant heavyweight five straight since a stoppage loss to Vitali Klitschko in 2011. The long awaited shot at a title in a third weight class ended miserably for Adamek, not winning a single round or even putting up a competitive effort as he was humbled in front of more than 40,000 at a brand new soccer stadium in Wroclaw, Poland.
The rest of his heavyweight tour has since taken place in the United States, though nothing among his current five-fight win streak jumps out as threatening to any of the top heavyweights. His lone piece of ring action in 2013 following his sought-after period of rest and relaxation came this past August, outpointing Dominick Guinn in a fight that didn’t provide much proof that he can find a way to beat either Klitschko brother, which is the only possible way to win a heavyweight title these days.
Still, it’s the vision entrenched in the mind of Adamek, who believes he has a clear view of that finish line in place.
“My goal is to keep winning every right and win a title. It’s why I stay in this business, to become world heavyweight champion.”
A loss this weekend wouldn’t just derail those plans, but perhaps forever leave him as the latest entrant in the long list of former cruiserweight champs who came up way short in pursuit of heavyweight paydirt. That’s why he chose a viable threat such as Glazkov, to remind him of the hard work it takes to make your dreams come true.
“He’s younger than me. He’s strong and he’s coming to give me a tough fight,” Adamek says in pointing out his motivation to win big this weekend. “We’re ready for that.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, Yahoo Boxing Ratings Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox