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Adamek scores incomplete on heavyweight test

06
Feb

Tomasz Adamek's hand was raised after he outpointed heavyweight prospect Jason Estrada over 12 rounds in New Jersey on Saturday, but how would the current cruiserweight champ fare against hard-punching top contenders Chris Arreola and David Haye? Fans may soon find out. Photo / Ed Mulholland/Fightwireimages.com

NEWARK, NJ. — Following his five-round annihilation of former heavyweight contender Andrew Golota last October, Tomasz Adamek, the reigning RING cruiserweight champions of the world, announced that he’ll never fight at cruiserweight again.

The declaration was understandable at the time. Adamek had just made rather easy work out of his fellow Pole in what was billed as the biggest fight ever held in their native Poland. He was feeling good about his prospects in the heavyweight division, confident that he could be just as formidable there as he was in the 200-pound division.

Maybe. Maybe not.



Adamek received lukewarm validation that the heavyweight division is the place for him after scoring a 12-round unanimous decision over Jason Estrada before a sellout crowd at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., on Saturday.

Beyond handling the 2004 U.S. Olympian by scores of 118-110, 116-112 and 115-113, Adamek (40-1, 27 knockouts) continued to prove he’s a huge draw in North Jersey.

On a Saturday night when the Northeast section of the country was buried by a major snow storm, Adamek’s Polish legions show up in force, a sellout crowd of 10,123 strong, undulating in their best red-and-white finery.

Adamek weighed in at a career-high 220 pounds for Estrada (16-3, 4 KOs), but it was a carved-up and lean 220. He packed on the muscle the right way, looking more like an NFL linebacker than an undersized heavyweight. His legs were much thicker. He came in barrel-chested and sturdy. As for his speed, he looked even faster than usual — if that’s possible.

“As a heavyweight the most important thing for me is my speed,” Adamek told RingTV.com after the fight. “Estrada was very tough. I had to go to the body to get to him. I wasn’t tired by the end of the fight, because I'm fighting at my natural weight, which is around 220.”

Adamek looked comfortable at the weight. He had been enervated in past years trying to make light heavyweight and cruiserweight. He blames his one loss, to Chad Dawson in February of 2007, on feeling listless due to the weight loss.

It was the last time Adamek fought light heavyweight, blowing up to 197¾ pounds his next time out, against Luis Andres Pineda in his cruiserweight debut in June 2007. The Estrada victory marked Adamek’s ninth-straight win since the Dawson loss, his second consecutive victory at heavyweight.

It’s clear that the 33-year-old boxer-puncher equates his success with the heavier weights, so it’s very possible that fans will never see him fight at cruiserweight again.

Adamek will probably renounce his RING cruiserweight world title sometime this week and opt to stay at heavyweight, according to many sources close to the Adamek camp. And he’s not looking for soft touches.

His next heavyweight target, RING-rated contender Chris Arreola, should prove to be more formidable than Estrada, who lacked power wasn’t considered to be much more than a prospect.

Adamek is expected to meet the heavy handed Southern Californian slugger, whose only loss is a 10th-round stoppage to beltholder Vitali Klitschko last September, on April 24. HBO has shown an interest in televising the fascinating matchup and Main Events, Adamek’s promoter, is pushing to host the showdown at Prudential Center.

Arreola is bigger, busier and braver than Estrada, and he has something that the Providence, R.I., native lacks — power. However, Adamek welcomes the challenge, knowing that a victory over the former title challenger will vault him to the top of his new division.

“I don't want to waste any time,” Adamek said. “I want to move right now. One more fight and I want to face someone like (beltholder) David Haye after Arreola. That would be the best fight for me, a great fight, punch after punch after punch.”

Haye-Adamek, a clash of two powerful former cruiserweight champs, is on the must-see list of most hardcore fight fans. But is he good enough at heavyweight to get to that dream match?

Whether Adamek can do anything at heavyweight is still debatable after just two fights (technically three, if you include Adamek’s KO 7 over Gary Gomez in July 2008 at 201 pounds).

Adamek had the perfect foil in Estrada, who was mobile, with little power, and small for a modern heavyweight.

Estrada seemed to be a willing participant in the first round, borrowing in and trying to bull Adamek into the ropes. By the second round, with the Adamek partisans in full throaty froth, Adamek began working the body and making Estrada hesitant. A counter right by Adamek in the middle of the second round, and an overhand right helped Estrada reach that conclusion.

Estrada also didn’t help himself by throwing wide looping punches to Adamek’s straight drives to his face and body. Adamek’s right eye appeared puffy in the third. Though through the first four rounds, Estrada was handling Adamek’s power.

Adamek circled, Estrada stalked. Each time Adamek waded in and landed a punch, Estrada tried timing Adamek as he backed away. Sometimes Estrada landed, but most of the time he didn’t, flinging amateurish punches and hitting nothing but air.

There were rarely any clinches. Estrada even tried talking trash in the seventh, but it wasn’t enough to entice Adamek into engaging him. Adamek played along in the waning seconds of the seventh, stinging Estrada with a right.

In the eighth, the roles were reversed. Adamek was in the center of the ring, pushing and stalking, and it was Estrada on his toes trying to box. Estrada was too slow to combat Adamek’s advances. It was, to that point, Adamek’s best round.

In the end, Adamek scored an incomplete on this test.

He went the distance with someone who was sporadically lethargic and couldn’t punch, while he was supposed to carry heavy hands.

But did he leave those heavy hands when he left the cruiserweight division? If Adamek couldn’t stop Jason Estrada, could you see him hurting Wladimir or Vitali Klitschko?

Joseph Santoliquito is the managing editor of THE RING.

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