By Keith Idec
You name it, Steve Cunningham has heard the criticism approaching his rematch against Tomasz Adamek.
He wasn’t a big puncher at cruiserweight, so he’s not fit for fighting at heavyweight. His chin, which wasn’t exactly Vitali Klitschko-like below 200 pounds, won’t withstand heavyweight power. Adamek is too experienced at heavyweight for Cunningham to face him in just Cunningham’s second fight at that weight.
Cunningham dismisses all of it, despite that the 36-year-old Philadelphia native is nearly a 3-1 underdog entering their 12-round, nationally televised, heavyweight rematch Saturday at Sands Casino Resort’s Events Center in Bethlehem, Pa. (NBC; 4 p.m. ET).
“A fight is a fight,” said Cunningham, who lost a split decision and the IBF cruiserweight championship in his first fight against Adamek four years ago in Newark, N.J. “Listen, I came up, before boxing, street fighting. It wasn’t no weight classes, it wasn’t no gloves. It was sometimes weapons — I got stabbed before. People say I’ve got this crazy, great heart. That’s where it came from, Philadelphia, fighting in schools, fighting in the streets. Then I went into a gym. So all the heart I got from that prepared me for this.
“I say God has a plan, so I guess that was part of his plan. I have no fear of any man on this planet. [Adamek] has done great things as a heavyweight. I think he did a great job in his career, but he’s fighting Steve Cunningham again. I don’t want to make it as close as it was the last time, so we’re willing to put on a great performance, probably the best performance you’ve ever seen out of me.”
Before Adamek (49-2, 27 KOs), of Kearny, N.J., and Cunningham (25-4, 12 KOs) square off again, NBC will broadcast an eight-round heavyweight bout between Ukraine’s Vyacheslav Glazkov (13-0, 9 KOs) and New York’s Tor Hamer (19-1, 12 KOs). The Glazkov-Hamer match will be the first bout broadcast by NBC since May 2004.
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.