By Jake Donovan
Tomasz Adamek and Steve Cunningham first waged war four years ago in a fight that served as one of the best of 2008. The bout also among the most memorable cruiserweight slugfests in the division’s still young history.
As is historically the case with most top cruiserweights, both fighters now compete in the heavyweight division. Fittingly, they once again compete against each other, with the rematch taking place this weekend at Sands Resort Casino in Bethlehem, PA (Saturday, NBC, 4PM ET).
Adamek made just two defenses of his lineal cruiserweight crown before moving up in Oct. ’09, stopping Andrew Golota in an all-Poland clash that announced his arrival in the division.
A bid to become a world champion in three weight classes fell well short in a one-sided stoppage loss to Vitali Klitschko last September.
Cunningham stuck around at cruiserweight for three more years following their Dec. ’08 clash, regaining a belt before dropping back-to-back decisions to current cruiserweight king Yoan Pablo Hernandez. The second of the two bouts had many declaring Cunningham finished at the top level, but the Philly product chose added weight over retirement.
A 10-round shutout over Jason Gavern in September provided Cunningham with his lone heavyweight win to date, though the fight took place in the right place at the right time. The evening’s main event saw Adamek climb off the canvas to stop Travis Walker in five rounds, his third win of 2012.
Plans were already in place for Adamek – with a win – to headline the December 22 show that serves as boxing’s return to NBC after a near-decade long absence. The question was against whom. Odlanier Solis was the first choice, but foolishly backed out of the fight, with Cunningham immediately brought in to replace him.
Both fighters have aspirations of becoming heavyweight champion. At least three wins will be required to accomplish that goal. In order to get to lineal heavyweight king Wladimir Klitschko, the winner of Saturday’s bout must then beat undefeated Kubrat Pulev in a final eliminator sometime next year.
Who will be the one to march on in 2013, and who will go home with some heavy thinking to do over the holidays? Read on to see what the Boxingscene.com staff envisions taking place this weekend.
PREDICTIONS – ADAMEK v. CUNNINGHAM II
“Steve Cunningham by decision. Out boxes Adamek by throwing another 600+ punches.”
- Damien Acevedo (Cunningham)
“I'm taking Adamek via SD in a robbery. Both fighters have seen better days but I think Cunningham will do enough to win at least 8 rounds but won't get the nod on the scorecards. The fight won't be as good as their first encounter but will be entertaining.”
- Ryan Burton (Adamek)
“Expect another great fight between these two, though perhaps not as dramatic as their first meet. Both are in search of a heavyweight title; I don’t see either fighter reaching that goal, but Adamek will get at least one fight closer than Cunningham after winning a unanimous decision on Saturday.”
– Jake Donovan (Adamek)
“Adamek TKO10 I had Steve pegged to win if the rematch happened at cruiserweight a while back. The problem for Steve is his punch resistance started to slip during his last few fights at cruiserweight so I cannot see his chin holding up against a quality heavyweight. Steve will stay away and box notching the early rounds but will get caught late and be unable to recover.”
- Timothy Kudgis (Adamek)
“Good cruiserweight come heavyweight crossroads battle. I think this match will play out similarly to the first between these two, except that Cunningham won't go down as easily from Adamek's punches. He may get dropped once, but he'll pile on enough points to win more rounds and fight #2 in what might end up as a trilogy between these small heavyweights. UD12”
- Richard Najdowski (Cunningham)
“I think Adamek will find a way to beat Cunningham yet again in another excellent fight.”
- Chris Robinson (Adamek)
“Adamek KO Cunningham: Cunningham has danced a tightrope for years, managing to avoid being stopped in the classic first fight with Adamek; against Troy Ross; twice against Yoan Hernandez. Adamek, at Heavyweight, both men slowed a bit, doesn't look like a safe place. This should be, as long as it lasts, another corker but it's hard to see them making the route. The pick here is Adamek inside eight rounds.”
– Cliff Rold (Adamek)
“Adamek UD- I think things will go the same for Adamek as he decisions Cunningham in a clear victory. Won't be surprised to see Cunningham taste the canvas again but Adamek will not be able to put him away. In another fun fight, Adamek will prevail.”
- Luis Sandoval (Adamek)
“Adamek TKO 8-10 Cunningham. Adamek has a chance to cap off a very nice comeback year, one of the best in all weight classes over the last 12 months - and he will do it. Seeing Cunningham going down hard against relatively soft-punching Yoan Hernandez and recalling his multiple trips to the canvas in the first Adamek fight tells me he has a questionable chin. Plus, Adamek evolved into a real heavyweight which isn't a case for a newcomer like USS. Tomasz will try to bang, Steve will resist but occasionally will be taken into a slugfest, in which he has a very slim to win.”
- Alexey Sukachev (Adamek)
Total: Tomasz Adamek 7, Steve Cunningham 2
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox