Adamek to receive his championship belt
If cruiserweight champ Tomasz Adamek successfully defends his RING world championship against Johnathan Banks on Feb. 27, the New Jersey-based Pole will finally get to take his belt home.
Adamek (36-1, 24 KOs) didn't get to take the then-vacant cruiserweight championship home after out-pointing Steve Cunningham last December in one of the best fights of 2008. THE RING title, which Adamek won along with Cunningham's IBF belt, had yet to be manufactored.
However, two months after the best night of his professional career, Adamek will finally have a RING belt to call his own.
“Adamek’s RING magazine cruiserweight championship belt has arrived from the manufacturer and will be presented to him at a Feb. 21 press conference in North Bergen, N.J., six days before his first defense,” said Nigel Collins, editor of the magazine.
“Although former middleweight champions Stanley Ketchel and Tony Zale were of Polish heritage, they were born in the United States. Therefore, Adamek, who won a spit decision over Steve Cunningham for the vacant RING title on Dec. 11, 2008, becomes the first Poland-born boxer to receive a RING championship belt.”
Adamek, who beat Cunningham in front of a raucous crowd at the Prudential Center in Newark, might be on his way to emulating the two Polish-American hall of famers in two ways:
One, he’s committed to being a fighting champion, as evidenced by his desire to defend his title only two months after winning it; and two, he’s popular.
And while the 5,000-plus fans he and Cunningham drew to the Prudential Center is only a fraction of the near 40,000 Zale and Rocky Graziano attracted to Yankee Stadium for their first fight, it’s a solid start to growing a strong, loyal fan base, according to Adamek’s promoter, Kathy Duva.
“We were delighted to get a little over 5,000 for our first show in the arena because we didn’t have the opportunity to really market the fight or build up the market,” said Duva, CEO of Main Events. “But there was a tremendous amount of grassroots organization in the Polish community and they came out and supported Adamek. Of the 5,000 fans, at least 3,500 were Polish.
“So we know there’s a fan base to be built in Newark because there’s a tremendous Polish community. We are aware of them because they followed (former heavyweight contender) Andrew Golota when Main Events promoted him.”
Duva expects well over than 5,000 fans to attend Adamek’s title defense against Banks, a talented young contender with an perfect (20-0, 14 KOs) record.
“Arena representatives report that tickets are moving three times faster than at the start of the December promotion,” Duva said. “I know there will be more fans this time because everyone who was there for Adamek-Cunningham had a great time.
“The Prudential Center is a great place to watch any sport or event. It’s a state-of-the-art facility, probably the best in the U.S. If you give fans a great fight there they’re going to want to come back. And this time we’ve had more time to market to all of the various communities in Newark.”
Duva said a few fighters from the Dominican Republic will be on the Feb. 27 undercard in hopes of attracting fans from the large Dominican population in Newark, and future shows might attempt to draw from the Filipino communities in the area.
But for now, the main attraction is Adamek, and Duva is hoping to make the Prudential Center the Pole’s “home” arena. Main Events had tremendous success promoting Arturo Gatti at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J., building the popular slugger’s fan base at the arena until he sold out the place whenever he fought there.
Duva, whose company recently entered a deal to promote six fights at the $375 million arena this year, believes the same thing can be done with Adamek and his fans at the new venue in Newark.
“I think we can do it,” Duva said. “I’ve been to a lot of big boxing events over the years, fights that had way more than 5,000 fans, but the noise they made for Adamek when he fought Cunningham was as loud and electric as the atmosphere was for the Gatti-Ward fights.
“I think we can do 7,500 for his next fight and we’re going to work towards 10,000 fans being the regular attendance for Adamek. We can fit 20,000 fans in the Prudential Center for boxing and who knows? In time, with the right matchup, maybe we can do that many.”
Helping Duva in attaining this goal is Adamek’s willingness to fight often.
“We originally planned to have him back for our April show, but he wanted to come back as soon as possible,” she said. “He wants to fight three or four times this year.”
If Adamek beats Banks, he will likely headline a Prudential Center show in June, and could come back in August or September before closing the year out in December.
Possible opponents for the champ include THE RING’s No. 3 contender Krzysztof Wlodarczyk, provided the Pole wins his April 27 fight against THE RING’s No. 8 contender Giacobbe Fragomeni (in a bout for the WBC title), and a rematch with Cunningham, THE RING’s No. 1 contender.
“The rematch with Cunningham will happen,” Duva said. “It’s just a question of when.”
It certainly won’t be a question of where.
And without question, it will be another barnburner in front of a lot of fans, and it will be for the real cruiserweight championship of the world.
The only movement in THE RING’s ratings this past week occurred in the junior welterweight division, where Juan Urango (No. 8 last week) switched places with Herman Ngoudjo (No. 5 last week), thanks to the Colombian puncher’s unanimous decision over Ngoudjo for the vacant IBF 140-pound belt.