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Is Adamek America’s heavyweight hope?

20
Aug

Even Chris Arreola’s most loyal fans realize the Southern California slugger is not the American heavyweight hope he was thought to be.

If Arreola’s weight (250-plus pounds) in his losses to Vitali Klitschko and Tomasz Adamek wasn’t an indication of his lack of desire, his recent tougher-than-expected victory over average Manuel Quezada confirmed his perennial under-achiever status.

The sad truth for American fans looking for a star-spangled heavyweight savior is that Arreola, THE RING’s No. 10-rated contender, is still among the best big men the U.S. has to offer.

Eddie Chambers, the only other RING-rated heavyweight from America, is skilled but undersized by modern standards. Undefeated Malik Scott, a talented boxer with modern heavyweight size, is missing in action. Veterans Shannon Briggs and Tony Thompson are getting long in the tooth. Prospects Seth Mitchell and Deontay Wilder are still years away from realizing whatever potential they might possess.



So who's out there for patriotic American fans who haven’t given up on the sport’s glamor division to root for?

Kathy Duva would like them to consider Adamek, who fights 6-foot-7 former title challenger Michael Grant on Saturday on pay-per-view television.

You read right. Duva, who promotes Adamek, believes the former light heavyweight titleholder and cruiserweight champ is the heavyweight that American fans should get behind.

Yes, Adamek (41-1, 27 knockouts) is from Poland. The 33-year-old veteran is proud of it, as are the thousands of Polish and Polish-American fans who pack the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., to watch him fight.

However, Adamek, who lives with his wife and two girls in Jersey City, N.J., is also proud to call America his new home.

“Tomasz has embraced our country,” Duva told RingTV.com. “He lives here with his family. His children go to school here. What’s more American than coming to this country in search of a better life? We’re all the children and grandchildren of immigrants. Some Americans seem to have forgotten this fact, but it’s how our country was built.”

Adamek has been fighting in the U.S. for the past five years, building a very impressive fighter’s resume in America. He won a vacant light heavyweight title with a thrilling 12-round decision over Paul Briggs in 2005 in Chicago. He seized THE RING’s vacant cruiserweight title by out-pointing Steve Cunningham in a fight-of-the-year candidate in 2008 the Prudential Center. In April, he put on a gutsy boxing clinic against Arreola, upsetting the naturally bigger favorite in Ontario, Calif., to establish himself as bona fide heavyweight contender.

“I love living and fighting in America,” Adamek told RingTV.com with some translation assistance from New Jersey-based Polish journalist Przemek Garczarczk. “The chance to come here and develop my talent was very important to my boxing career. I’ve gone further than I ever would have had I stayed in Poland.”

Nice story. Good for him. But you’re still not convinced that Adamek’s the guy Americans should root for — especially against the giant Ukrainians who dominate the heavyweight division, RING champ Wladimir Klitschko and older brother Vitali?

Well, consider these points:

Adamek is an experienced pro who proved that he can take a heavyweight punch during the hard 12 rounds he went with Arreola.

And unlike Arreola, fans can count on Adamek to show up in top condition if he ever gets a shot at either Klitschko. Adamek is 100-percent dedicated to his profession. When he says his goal is to win the heavyweight championship, he means it. He’s even serious about Grant, who he views as practice for fighting the 6-foot-7 Klitschkos.

“Grant is a big man with a pair of very big hands that can hurt me,” Adamek said. “I’m not overlooking or underestimating him and I don’t pay attention to what others say about him, those who say he’s no longer any good. For all I know he could have the best night of his career against me, so I have to be ready for that.”

Like Chambers, Adamek has speed and mobility that can trouble bigger men. His new head trainer Roger Bloodworth is working on adding more elusiveness to his already-polished technique.

Unlike Chambers, who weighed 209 pounds for the 12th-round knockout he suffered against Wladimir Klitschko in March, Adamek can effectively carry around 220 pounds and he appears to be getting stronger with each heavyweight fight.

“I feel like a completely different fighter from when I first fought at heavyweight against Andrew Golota last year,” said Adamek, whose bout with Grant will be his fourth at heavyweight. “It’s like night and day. My body is different now. I’m heavier, stronger, and I have power that wasn’t there when I fought Golota. I could feel the power during my camp for Grant.”

Still not sure if Adamek’s your man?

Consider the fact that he’s fun to watch. Apart from Arreola, no other heavyweight delivers the consistent action that Adamek has over three weight classes. Adamek has been in three fight-of-the-year candidates (the war with Cunningham and his two bouts with Briggs) and countless fights that ended with spectacular knockouts.

Also make note of the frequency with which Adamek fights. Unlike the Klitschkos, who average two fights a year, Adamek likes to stay busy. Since December of 2007, he’s averaged four fights every 12 months, and he has no intention of slowing down, according to Duva.

“Keeping a busy schedule was always the plan for Adamek; that’s part of the reason he signed with us,” said Duva, who added that a Nov. 6 date is already scheduled for Adamek’s next fight. “He wants to fight as often as possible. The activity keeps him paid well, it gives him an advantage over other heavyweights, most of whom don’t fight as often, and it helps move him toward his goal of fighting for the heavyweight title.”

Adamek’s ability to sell tickets in New Jersey helps Duva keep him busy, and she says it’s another reason for fans to hop on her fighter’s bandwagon.

“There’s no American heavyweight who sells tickets like Adamek does,” Duva said. “His fights create a great atmosphere. They’re like big parties. They’re events. Outside of the champs, what heavyweight does that? The Klitschkos draw in Germany. Maybe David Haye does well in England whenever he decides to fight. But who else? And who can draw in two countries like Adamek? His fight with Golota in Poland sold out a 17,000-seat arena.”

His fights in the U.S. do well, too.

Adamek drew 10,000 for his fight with U.S. Olympian Jason Estrada at the Prudential Center during bitterly cold conditions in February. His fight with Grant (46-3, 32 KOs), which is also at the Prudential Center, is on track to exceed 10,000.

Duva believes Adamek can attract crowds outside of New Jersey, too.

“I think he can do well in any area where there’s a big Polish population, such as Chicago,” she said. “I know he could sell out Madison Square Garden, and they’ve approached us about hosting one of his fights. But he can do well even in areas where the Polish population isn’t so big. He brought fans out in California.”

Adamek would probably do decent ratings if the networks would show more of his fights. However, HBO doesn’t seem interested in the heavyweights beyond Arreola, and Showtime appears to have given up on the division. The Grant fight is available on an independent pay-per-view broadcast in the U.S.

Duva is positive that an American TV audience would back Adamek if the U.S. networks took a chance on him.

“Tomasz has embraced America, and you’ll see on Saturday that our country has already begun to embrace him back,” she said. “Not everyone in the Prudential Center is Polish, they’re just Polish for the night.”

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