Tomasz Adamek—Rise of a Star

Champions are born, not made. On December 1, 1976, in Żywiec, Poland, a man came into this world with a gift. That gift was: possessing all necessary mental and physical attributes to become the first boxer in history to win a world title in the three heaviest weight divisions—light heavyweight, cruiserweight, and heavyweight. So far it is two down and one to go. On May 21, 2005, in Chicago, Adamek made history by becoming the first Polish born-and-bred world boxing champion. In front of over 10,000 fellow countrymen, he defeated Paul Briggs to win the WBC world light heavyweight title. This bout was a sensational bloody war—becoming a candidate for Fight of the Year. Three and a half years later, on December 11, 2008, Adamek won a split decision over Steve “USS” Cunningham to capture the IBF Cruiserweight Title.   

The history-making does not end there. In early 2009, Adamek became the first Poland native to ever win the RING Magazine title, capturing it as a Cruiserweight. In December 2010, Adamek became the first Pole to get ranked on RING Magazine’s pound-for-pound fighters list. Doug Fischer compiled this list of the sport’s ten best pound-for-pound boxers in the world. He is one of only three Polish-born fighters to have captured a world boxing championship (the other two are Michalczewski and Włodarczyk). Michalczewski is Polish-born but German-bred; it was not until September 14, 2002 that he fought under the white-and-red flag. Adamek is the best Polish heavyweight today, better than Sosnowski, Wawrzyk, and Mariusz Wach. However, Golota remains widely regarded as the best Polish heavyweight in history.  

Part of Adamek’s successes in the ring emanate from who he is outside the ring. In real life, he is loyal, humble, and a devout Catholic. He is someone who is faithfully committed to his profession and takes full pride in his fans, who pack the Prudential Center in the thousands for his fights. He is one of the biggest ticket-sellers in boxing today, as only Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, Jr. sell more. An average of 8,000-10,000 fans (predominantly Polish), are in the arena to watch Adamek fight live. It is for all those thousands of Poles waving the national flag for who he fights. A true sportsman.         

Last week, the biggest boxing news story of the year was released when we got word that he is fighting Wladimir Klitschko in Poland for the IBF and WBO world heavyweight titles this coming September. Talk about BIG! Adamek is the new sensation in the heavyweight division and a rising Star, not to mention a former two-time world champion. Wladimir Klitschko has been a world heavyweight titleholder for nearly five years and has been widely regarded as the division’s top king for quite some time. HBO has stated that it is only interested in showing a Klitschko-Adamek fixture or Klitschko-Haye. The opponents that Vitali and Wladimir “handpick,” are not exciting enough to watch. The network of Champions already showed it was serious, refusing some title fights last year, including Klitschko-Peter II and Haye-Harrison.

            Honestly, I would much rather see Adamek in the ring against David Haye. “The Hayemaker” is a former cruiserweight and would be the ideal opponent for Adamek, who is a former cruiserweight world champion himself. The Pole would feel much more comfortable in the squared circle versus the Brit than he will against the Ukrainian. Tomasz would definitely have a much bigger chance of winning. If Adamek does beat Klitschko, however, I think it will be by a decision on the judges’ scorecards. As much as Klitschko-Adamek will be a spectacular, an Adamek-Haye match-up would be as equally an amazing bout. Here you would have two men in their prime with quick hands, power, speed, precision, and accuracy, and also fighters who are not afraid to duke it out for the fans. Haye has taken heavy criticism lately for not performing like a real champion (especially last year versus Audley Harrison), but for a true warrior like Adamek he would force himself to prepare to the best of his potential and fight the best bout of his career. Thus Adamek-Haye would also be a thriller.

Nonetheless, against the younger Ukrainian brother, “Góral” should work his jab inside and keep his much taller opponent at bay, not allowing Klitschko to get inside. The 6’1’’ Adamek is a training machine, giving it his all and then some—in camp and in the ring. For a stallion like Adamek, training camp—Operation: Klitschko—will likely begin this month, which means Roger Bloodworth and the rest of Team Adamek will have nine months to prepare for the war of their lives. This will be the biggest and toughest test in Adamek’s career. The fighter said so himself. Klitschko is taller, bigger, heavier, and stronger. The only advantage the 1996 Olympic Gold Medalist will not have against his Polish opponent is that he will not be fighting at home, but away. The “Fight of the Century,” as the Polish media has dubbed it, will be taking place in Adamek’s homeland—Poland (in a 40,000+ seat soccer stadium that is being built for UEFA Euro 2012). Magdalena Pawłowska, of SMG Polska, has reported that some 50,000 people will be in attendance. With the fight being in Wrocław, at least 90% of the spectators will likely be Adamek supporters. However, before the Ukrainian champion and Polish challenger meet in the ring, both will have tune-up fights. Klitschko is scheduled to face England’s Derek Chisora on April 30, while Adamek will lace up gloves two weeks earlier in Katowice, Poland, against perhaps Derric Rossy, Samuel Peter, or Alexander Povetkin.

            Although it is way too early to make any predictions for this fight, a number of Poland’s sports-affiliated personnel have already spoken out about the big event. Former Polish amateur boxer Jerzy Kulej, who is a two-time Olympic Champion at Light Welterweight, said that if the fight goes the full 12 rounds, he gives Adamek a 60% chance of winning. Another Olympian boxer, Janusz Gortat (father of Phoenix Suns forward Marcin Gortat), is puzzled as to who will definitely come out victorious in this battle of Europeans foes. Leszek Drogosz, one of the best Polish boxers in history, claimed that if Adamek defeats Wladimir Klitschko, he will become the best fighter in the history of Polish professional boxing.

Adamek’s most impressive win as a heavyweight came against Chris Arreola in April of 2010. In his other assignments, “Góral” has fared very well, taking out Golota, Estrada, Grant, and Maddalone, along the way. He has enough skills and speed to defeat at least one of the three current champions—Vitali, Wladimir, or Haye. Out of that trio, however, Wladimir is the toughest possible opponent. However, if Adamek beats him, he will become the first Polish heavyweight champion in history. This would serve as consolation to Polish boxing fans after they were disappointed time and time again by Andrew Golota. A win over Wladimir Klitschko today would be just as big as a win over Lennox Lewis was in the 1990s and early 2000s. Only two men were able to accomplish this—Oliver McCall and Hasim Rahman—and that became their claim to fame. This is why the Klitschko fight carries such a big magnitude for Adamek—besides having an opportunity to become a world heavyweight champion, he has a chance to defeat the best heavyweight of this era. That would be his lifetime achievement.      

Every pro fighter in boxing today should fight like Adamek—with nothing but heart, leaving it all in the ring—but half of the employees of the sweet science do not have half of the heart he does. The Pole is truly one of a kind. Our hats go off to this Star, which may officially be risen by September 24.    


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