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Adamek: First Estrada, then big things

04
Feb

The fans in the New Jersey-New York area have a secret they’re keeping from the rest of the world: Tomasz Adamek.

Well, OK, the former light heavyweight titleholder and current RING cruiserweight champion — now a heavyweight — has had some exposure over his 11-year career. He has been seen on television in the U.S. and beyond enough times to build a recognizable name.

If you’ve wanted to follow him the past year, though, you would’ve had to visit the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., or Lodz, Poland.

Adamek’s fifth-round KO of fellow Pole Andrew Golota in October was an enormous event in their country but was not on television in the U.S. And his fight against Jason Estrada on Saturday in Newark will be his third there in 13 months but you’ll have to watch it on gofightlive.tv if you live elsewhere.

Alas, Newark might have to share Adamek with the rest of us soon. His promoter, Kathy Duva of Main Events, and the handlers of Chris Arreola are in negotiations for a fight in April and HBO has expressed interest.

And if he can get past Arreola, a lucrative matchup against one of the Klitschko brothers would be a realistic possibility.

“Tomasz seriously intends to beat the Klitschkos,” Duva said. “ÔǪ The plan has been to have several heavyweight fights, get comfortable in the division and then move on to a big fight. We want to make sure he’s ready to win it when it happens. And he seems to be on track.”

Duva expects a crowd of as many as 10,000 people — many of them of Polish descent — Saturday night at the Prudential Center, which she said would translate into a healthy $500,000-plus gate.

That’s an impressive figure against a relatively obscure opponent like Estrada, a 2004 U.S. Olympian still fighting to establish himself as a pro. It’s doubtful that any of the three heavyweight titleholders — the Klitschko brothers and David Haye — could draw a crowd that big in the U.S. against a journeyman.

Who else could?

“After Pacquiao, Cotto and maybe Mayweather, name somebody. Maybe Kelly Pavlik,” Duva said.

Still, it might be a while before Adamek fights in Newark again. Duva would love to have Adamek fight Arreola to a sell-out crowd there but expects the fight to happen in Arreola’s native Los Angeles area.

And that’s fine. This is what Adamek has been working toward the past year — big-name opponents on big-time television.

Duva said she and Dan Goossen, Arreola’s promoter, have a “general agreement” for the fight.

“I feel it’s going to happen,” she said. “I’m not worried it won’t. Dan wants to see if Adamek wins (on Saturday). That’s important, of course.”

Adamek (39-1, 27 knockouts) offers Estrada (16-2, 4 KOs) the obligatory respect but is supremely confident, as he has always been.

He has lost only once in his career — to the very talented Chad Dawson in a light heavyweight bout in 2007 — and seems to have maintained his power as he has moved up in weight. He has stopped six of eight opponents since becoming a cruiserweight and then a heavyweight against Golota.

The 6-foot-1¾ Adamek will never be a big heavyweight in the mold of a Klitschko or even Arreola, who is 6-4 and fights at 250-260 pounds, but seems to be comfortable in his new weight class.

“I’m always asked if I feel worthy to be in the heavyweight division and my answer always is — just watch me fight and you’ll know the answer,” he said. “I don’t expect anybody to respect me because I was champion in two other weight classes. Just enjoy what you see when I’m in the ring. I did not lose any strength as compared to being a light heavyweight or cruiserweight. Contrary. Fighting at my natural weight helped me be a better boxer. I expect to weigh around 222 pounds for the fight. That’s natural weight and power, zero loss of energy.

“ÔǪ You can prove yourself in only one way — by winning. And this is exactly what I intend to do on Saturday. Don’t blink, don’t miss a second. I will win.”

If he does, expect to see a lot more of him.

Michael Rosenthal can be reached at [email protected]

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