BY: Diane Bennett
On December 11 the newly built Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey was christened with a boxing classic. Steve Cunningham put his IBF cruiserweight championship belt on the line against number one challenger Tomasz Adamek. After 12 grueling rounds of amazing action in which both fighters left every single ounce of their energy in the ring it was Adamek prevailing by split decision. However, it was Cunningham who was the aggressor through – out the bout, firing more punches but only to have them absorbed by the steel chin of Adamek. At points when it appeared that Adamek was wilting to the Cunningham punishment, he would dig deep and find away to land shots of his own, three of those shots landed Cunningham to the canvas. Cunningham immediately got up after each knockdown which occurred in the second, forth and eighth rounds. As Cunningham would say afterwards “All the knockdowns were flash knockdowns to me. I was not really hurt” In the forth round in particular it looked like the champ was going to put Adamek away. Cunningham was demolishing Adamek with an onslaught of blows for the first two minutes or so of the round then with twenty second left Adamek roared backed and nailed Cunningham with a shot sending him to the canvas. The fight had the same theme all the way until the final bell.
As soon as the final bell sounded the first thought that I had was when will the rematch take place. Boxing fans should not have to wait more than the required time for these two cruiserweight gladiators to climb through the ropes and do it again.
Very few survive three knockdowns and are able to finish the bout let alone receive a favorable decision from the judges. In this case many experts believed that Cunningham’ who threw more punches and connected more frequently was deserving of at least a draw. The judges felt differently with only one of the three giving the nod to Cunningham. Judge Clark Sammartino scored the bout 114 – 112 for Cunningham, while John Stewart had it 116 -110 and Shafeeq Rashada 115-112 for Adamek.
As the dust settled and the massive amount of Polish fans that were in attendance to cheer on their new champion emptied the Rock, both fighters were greeting the press in the post fight conference room. This post fight conference had a tune to it, even before Cunningham who was first to speak could utter a word the hundred or so media in attendance shouted REMATCH, REMATCH. That remained the constant during the conference and Cunningham without hesitation stated that is exactly what he wants. On the other hand Adamek was non comitial.
A week has gone by now and all the reports have been printed, each boxing expert had the fight scored within one point either way and all agreed that an immediate rematch needs to happen. Many went further to say that this was the fight of the year. One thing is for sure USS Cunningham already has the gloves laced and is ready to go. Now it’s up to Adamek and the powers to be to give the fans what they want to see now Cunningham – Adamek II.
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Photo Credit - Gianluca (Rio) Di Caro