By KEITH IDEC
NEW YORK — Tomasz Adamek’s decision to decline an IBF heavyweight elimination match against Kubrat Pulev benefitted Steve Cunningham.
If the 36-year-old Cunningham can upset unbeaten Tyson Fury on Saturday in The Theater at Madison Square Garden (NBC; 4 p.m. ET), he’ll oppose Pulev for the right to become Wladimir Klitschko’s mandatory challenger in the IBF’s rankings. Adamek inadvertently assisting Cunningham is fitting when you consider Cunningham (25-5, 12 KOs) seemingly out-boxed Adamek (48-2, 29 KOs) during a Dec. 22 rematch Adamek won by split decision.
“It’s a victory, but still, I’m looking at my record, man, and seeing that ‘L’ against Adamek for Dec. 22, it’s just ridiculous,” Cunningham said. “It’s heartbreaking. Fifty years from now, guys look up Steve Cunningham, they’re going to look on my record and see two losses to Adamek. It’s ridiculous. The first loss, off of three knockdowns, and I still had a split decision [loss in December 2008]. This one, no knockdowns, I out-boxed him and it’s a split decision. I don’t know what’s up, but it is what it is. I moved on and I’m here.”
As much as he wants a victory over the popular Polish contender, Cunningham doesn’t see a third fight in their future.
“I don’t care to fight Adamek again,” Cunningham said. “If he wants the fight and the fight materializes, and you guys wanted to see it, I’d do it. But he already put out a statement, saying there won’t be a Cunningham trilogy. He already put it out, because he knows. It’s one of them things. I get better as I go on. You see the first fight, you see the second fight — the third fight is going to be even worse. He knows that and he won’t do it.”
Cunningham conceded, however, that he understood why Adamek walked away from a fight against Bulgaria’s Pulev (17-0, 9 KOs), who’s ranked No. 1 by the IBF.
“I knew the money situation was miniscule,” Cunningham said, “so I couldn’t blame him for not taking that fight.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.