Following an unusually busy 2012 by today's standards -- four fights and four wins -- Tomasz Adamek is fighting for the first time nearly two-thirds into 2013. Now 36, the former light heavyweight and cruiserweight king is taking things much more slowly, which contrasts with the busy-body style that marked his early heavyweight years.
But have the years taken a toll on Adamek? Some who saw him "beat" Steve Cunningham last December may say yes. On Saturday, Adamek will be fighting for the 51st time against 38-year-old Dominick Guinn, who is coming off a career-long 14-month layoff and who is serving as a late sub for Tony Grano, who bowed out because of two herniated discs in his neck.
Statistical factors that may shape this contest include:
Is It Age or Is It Style?: Adamek looked unusually slow and heavy-footed in his rematch with Cunningham, who many thought deserved the verdict that ended up being a split nod for the heavily favored Pole. At his best, Adamek sets a fast pace that often bedazzles his larger, heavier opponents and his hand speed and accuracy present a formidable obstacle. Against journeyman Nagy Aguilera (W 12), Adamek averaged 67.6 punches per round, landing 45% overall and 56% of his power shots while against speedy Eddie Chambers (against whom Adamek won another disputed nod), Adamek fired 76.6 per round to overcome Chambers' statistical superiority (152-134 in total connects, 118-86 in landed power shots). A 27-punch barrage finally put away Travis Walker in round five after Adamek suffered a second-round knockdown. There he averaged just 51 punches per round but he still amassed connect gulfs of 83-43 (total), 30-24 (jabs) and 53-19 (power).
But against Cunningham, Adamek threw just 42.8 punches per round and was out-landed 209-169 (total) and 129-49 (jabs). He also tasted a far higher percentage of Cunningham's punches (41%-33% total, 37%-20% jabs, 48%-45% power). But Adamek's aggression, more assertive punch selection (52%-48% in favor of power punches to Cunningham's 68%-32% split in favor of jabs) and his 120-80 power connect advantage enabled Adamek to capture the split nod.
Was Adamek's slow-down the result of attrition caused by an active year, the difficulties of handling Cunningham's speed, the result of potentially overlooking the underdog "USS" or the onset of Father Time? The Grano fight is designed to answer those questions.
A Disastrous Recent Run: A decade ago "The Southern Disaster" was considered one of America's rising heavyweight stars but an upset decision loss to Monte Barrett in March 2004 affixed the first loss after 24 straight wins. From that point forward Guinn has gone 10-9-1 in last 20 fights, 1-3 in his last four fights.
Many of his defeats can be attributed to a chronic inability to throw punches. The average heavyweight throws 45.6 punches per round but in losses to Denis Boytsov (L 10) and Kubrat Pulev (L 8), Guinn averaged just 19.5 and 18.5 per round- yes, per round. One of the more frustrating aspects of his fights is that when Guinn chooses to let his hands go he's been effective and accurate. Even at 38, his blows appear quick, precise and technically correct and the numbers bear that out. Against Pulev he landed 41% of his power shots while against Boytsov he connected on 32% of them.
The main reason why he lost both of those fights was his extreme inactivity, allowing Boytsov and Pulev to get away with setting a pedestrian pace (40.6 for Boytsov, 44.6 for Pulev). In fact, had Guinn chosen to match Boytsov's pace he would have nearly duplicated his rival's numbers. Throwing slightly more than double Guinn's output (406-195), Boytsov landed exactly twice as many total punches (104-52). jabs (31-15) and power shots (73-37). But no matter how passionately his corner urges him, Guinn simply refuses to fight at a faster pace.
Prediction: Given Guinn's age, long layoff and refusal to fight at a fast pace, it will be up to Adamek to create all the action. Fortunately for him, he has the volume to do so. He'll out-hustle the sleep-walking but very durable Guinn and capture a lopsided unanimous decision.