As fans of boxing, we all know and must admit that today our beloved sport is undergoing a crisis across all weight divisions. Nowadays mainstream U.S. sports media write about how boxing matches continue to fail to produce a new star. They imply that arenas are becoming emptier and emptier, which is true. The attendance for January’s Devon Alexander-Timothy Bradley title fight was 6,247—yikes! Lennox Lewis’s 2004 retirement sparked the onset of a decline in boxing popularity, and after the May 2007 super-fight between Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather Jr., the sport’s unpopularity virtually became cemented. People lost interest because there were no more exciting fighters to deliver exciting matches.
For the most part, boxing’s most marketable and loved division has always been heavyweight. It was in this weight class that the sport’s best fights of all-time were fought. Best proof of this is “The Fight of the Century,” between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier at Madison Square Garden. However, these days, boxing is more popular on the big screen than it is in real life, with movies like “The Fighter,” which scored two Oscars. The sport continues to be a great storytelling background, with its innate drama and true clichés about beating adversity, but nothing more—as it continues suffering in the real ring—especially the heavyweight division. The latter is not surprising, because just as the saying goes, “As go the heavyweights, so goes boxing.” However, the good news is that the glamour division will soon be resurrected, which in turn will jumpstart the remaining weight classes. How though—when the general public is so disinterested that it does not even know who the current heavyweight champion is? The answer is: Tomasz Adamek.
Adamek is currently more thrilling than most other fighters in boxing. Why? Well, because Mayweather and/or Pacquiao fight everyone but each other, everyone knows they will win anyway, and so that makes for not much excitement or surprise. However, the Klitschko-Adamek match-up is reminiscent of David vs. Goliath. Here you will have a giant-built man going against a giant-hearted man, which leads you in suspense as to who will emanate victorious. That is way more exciting than watching Floyd Mayweather whoop an old Shane Mosley. Would upwards of 10,000 people pay to see Tomasz fight live if he was not exciting? No. What's more—most other fighters do not come close to generating such a turnout.
People are so bored of the Klitschkos dominating the heavyweight ranks that they want a new star to emerge, one who does more in the ring than just enough to win. Adamek fits that description. Granted, most experts are picking Vitali in the September 10th showdown, which is understandable. However, Tomasz still has a puncher’s chance. Open your eyes and look at the Polish-born heavyweight’s skills and heart. Power is not the only asset a heavyweight boxer needs in order to win. Besides, Adamek does have power, it is just not heavyweight-caliber, as of yet anyway. Combine that with his heart of a champion, and then compare that to a Vitali who quit on his stool against Chris Byrd in a world title fight. And what do you get? You get a thought in your mind that tells you Adamek actually does have a shot against the older Klitschko brother. Adamek believes he can win, the man has will, and when there is a will, there is a way. In 1990 no one believed that Buster Douglas would beat Mike Tyson, with the exception of Douglas. That was enough.
Plus, the Pole has registered six straight wins since moving up from cruiserweight, and the two most useful of these victories came against Michael Grant and Kevin McBride. Grant and McBride both resemble very similar physical features to “Dr. Ironfist,” such as height and reach, so it is not like “Góral” will be entering the ring totally inexperienced and unknowledgeable. And do not forget, he will have home court advantage, before a huge sellout crowd in Wrocław, Poland.
A true great fighter is more than someone who has an impressive record. It is somebody who puts on a reverberating performance when it is his time to shine. That is how a new star is born. Unfortunately, in recent times, we have seen none of that. Manny Pacquiao remains boxing’s biggest star, but he has said that he plans to retire in three years' time, and his highly-anticipated multimillion dollar mega-fight with Mayweather has not happened. Boxing is hungry for stars. One thing for sure—come September, Adamek will not waste his time to shine. He will deliver a performance at Stadion Miejski that will launch him as the sport’s new star and give the heavyweight division a long-awaited nudge.
Tomasz will then become the new attraction in boxing because the story will be that he finally knocked off one of the Klitschkos. Boxing fans and people alike will want to come and see him fight, regardless if it is in New Jersey, Poland, or…Tahiti. Therefore, attendance at his matches could spike (it is already around 10,000 for every fight!) because who would not want to see a legend in the making? In essence, he will earn even more fans. This could in turn boost overall attendance at boxing matches, which is currently being deflated by bouts such as Martinez-Williams—5,502, Khan-Maidana—4,632, and the aforementioned Alexander-Bradley Light Welterweight title bout (6,247).
Also, since the fight with Klitschko will likely be carried on Pay-Per-View, it could very well earn a high number of PPV buys, perhaps even making it on the list of top Pay-Per-View events in boxing history, because the Ukrainian and Pole combine for a large number of fans in the U.S. and Europe. If the PPV event sells well, all Adamek bouts onward (pending his victory Sept. 10) will be of interest to fans which will inevitably pay to see him fight on TV again. This would boost overall Pay-Per View sales of boxing matches, which nowadays are nowhere what they used to be. The New Jersey-based heavyweight definitely has it in him to spark a boxing renaissance.
A win by the Pole in September may go down as one of the biggest upsets in boxing history. Aficionados claim his chances are slim, but remember how Adidas phrases it, “impossible is nothing.”