When Tomasz Adamek steps into the ring a week from tomorrow night, he will be fighting as the last hope for the heavyweight division, because Wladimir Klitschko vs. David Haye was a failure. The latter was the most anticipated heavyweight fight since Lewis-Tyson, but turned out to be nothing more than a routine Klitschko victory. So much for all of the trash-talking Haye did to hype up the fight. It was all just a waste of everyone’s time. However, the Sept. 10 match-up between Adamek and Vitali Klitschko will not only be worthwhile, but guarantees to be a much, much better fight that can actually restore the heavyweight division. The Pole will be inspired to box in his homeland in front all of his people, who will be fervently waiting for him to become the first-ever Polish heavyweight champion.
The shot at history that Adamek has on September 10 is not something we see on a normal basis in boxing. Only on occasion do fighters get the chance of making history, and many times they are not even aware of it until after the fact. However, Adamek has known ever since the fight was announced that this will not be just any regular bout. What exactly is on the line for the New Jersey-based heavyweight against “Dr. Ironfist”? The opportunity to make Polish athletic history and professional boxing history—and that is huge.
If he wins, Adamek will become the first Polish-born heavyweight champion of the world. He will add a third world title belt to his collection, which would make him the most successful pugilist from his country. In professional boxing, no fighter has ever captured a world title in each of the three consecutive heaviest weight divisions—Light Heavyweight, Cruiserweight, and Heavyweight. Tomasz Adamek would be the first one. Polish fans would revel in that historic moment, knowing their countryman had done something no other boxer in the world ever has. This would essentially make him a future Hall-of-Famer, and join all-time greats such as Roy Jones Jr. and Bernard Hopkins in the waiting line to Canastota. An eventual Hall-of-Fame induction would make Adamek the first Polish-born boxer to have his fist cast. The Pole’s name would forever remain printed in record books, whether written in Polish, English, or…Swahili. People all around the world would be able to find his name in a boxing encyclopedia. Essentially, beating Vitali Klitschko would make Tomasz Adamek a boxing legend.
If the 34-year-old native of Żywiec, Poland, beats his Ukrainian rival, his epic victory will become perhaps the most sensational triumph in Polish sports history. Thus far, there are three successes regarded to be at the top of Poland’s athletic achievements. Number One: The national soccer team’s 1-1 tie with England at Wembley Stadium in a classic FIFA World Cup qualifying match, which ultimately denied the Englishmen participation at the 1974 World Cup. Number Two: The men’s national ice hockey team’s shocking upset of the USSR 6-4 in the opening game of the IIHF World Championships in 1976. Number Three: Cross country skier Justyna Kowalczyk’s edging of legendary Norwegian Marit Bjørgen in the women’s 30 km classical event at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, to capture the gold medal. All of these events were hits in Poland, and Adamek’s eventual conquest would certainly join this popular list.
Can Adamek pull off the stunning upset in the fight of his life? Better yet, can Vitali mentally withstand Adamek's pressure? “Góral” is the warrior of all warriors and will not secede from his opponent until the final bell rings. Klitschko, however, has seceded on his stool before. The Ukrainian heavyweight, unlike his Polish challenger, has dodged opponents in the past. In November 2005, he withdrew from his WBC title fight against Hasim Rahman because of a reported knee injury. Two years later, after having announced a comeback, Vitali cancelled his match with Jameel McCline due to a back injury. Skepticism arose in both instances as to whether Vitali’s injuries were that serious. His next opponent fought through injury, however. Adamek broke his nose while training for the May 2005 Briggs bout but kept it a secret and decided to go on with the fight anyway. Adamek toughed it out and went on to win an impressive decision in his debut on American soil. His nose was a bloody mess during the match, one that has been rarely seen ever since. And poor David Haye was whining about his broken toe two months ago in Germany….
Many people do not realize how meaningful an Adamek win would be. There has not been such a monumental heavyweight victory since Lennox Lewis knocked out Mike Tyson nearly ten years ago. Some followers believe that Adamek’s eventual success would be reminiscent of Buster Douglas’s sensational upset of Mike Tyson in Tokyo. It is certainly tough to think of a heavyweight bout since then which was such a big upset. Thus, if the unthinkable happens in Wrocław, expect the print media to portray the Jersey City-based Pole as Buster Douglas, circa 2011.
Besides the humongous support of millions of fans, Adamek also has a strong backing from his family. He is married to Dorota, a native of Poland who is a nurse and is ringside for every fight. The couple shares two daughters—Roksana and Weronika. The boxer and his family moved to the U.S. in August of 2008. They settled near Jersey City, his adopted hometown. The Adameks have certainly been living the American Dream, and now the breadwinner is about to net a paycheck that will assure him and his family no need of returning to the Polish highlands….
In July, Klitschko and Adamek met at a press conference at HBO headquarters in Manhattan. The two sat across from each other at a big conference table, answering reporters’ questions and exchanging some words with each other. The Ukrainian promised the Pole that he will not avoid battling with him, if Adamek wants a battle. That’s good news for the gutsy 6′ 1½″, 220-pound Adamek, who has proven he can rumble and is not afraid of his 6′ 7½″, 250-pound opponent. Klitschko stated that if you underestimate opponents such as Adamek, you lose. “Dr. Ironfist” knows better. The 40-year-old world champion said that he’s certain his bout with Adamek will be much more emotional than his younger brother’s fight with Haye, claiming Haye was running away throughout the whole fight and didn’t want to take any risks. “Dr. Ironfist” added that Adamek is a warrior as opposed to David Haye. He stated that “Hayemaker” is a better talker than “Góral.” However, the WBC heavyweight champion affirmed that Adamek is the better boxer. The Ukrainian did not miss out on the face-to-face opportunity to test the Pole’s psyche. Thus, he reminded his opponent that a natural heavyweight will be standing in the opposite corner on September 10, one who hits like a real heavyweight. The Pole was not alarmed by these words, however, saying that speed is power, and that he knows what he is capable of in the ring. Adamek added that he knows how to move around the ring and knows how to win this fight. The Polish star concluded by noting that many guys lost to Vitali Klitschko before even entering the ring, but he won’t be one of those guys. Each European is convinced he will be the one who wins. Each man states that it will be a wide open fight. Both promise a remarkable boxing match. One thing is for sure—Vitali-Adamek will not be a flop like Wlad-Haye.
So what do the experts think? Legendary HBO commentator Larry Merchant believes that because Adamek is fighting older brother Vitali, the Polish contender has a bigger chance of winning because the Ukrainian is at an age where it’s unknowable how his years will make him look in the ring. Merchant is convinced that Adamek’s fight with “Dr. Ironfist” will be gigantic and the biggest boxing event in the history of Eastern Europe—one that everyone will be waiting for. Famous boxing trainer Emanuel Steward became a Tomasz Adamek fan during the Arreola bout. Steward holds that Adamek has greatly improved as a boxer and is unusual because he’s not big for a heavyweight, but yet continues to win. It’s all because he has determination and heart, according to Steward. The legendary trainer feels that Adamek represents the soul of a Pole—full determination, nothing fancy, and a hard work ethic—sacrificing everything. American boxing writer Steve Kim believes that a win by Adamek is very possible. So if “Góral” indeed gets the W, Kim claims that the Pole would have a secured spot in the Boxing Hall of Fame. Actually, Adamek may have a secured spot already, but will have to wait a little while before getting inducted, after retiring, according to Kim. WBA super middleweight champion Andre Ward claims that Vitali is a remarkable boxer, but Adamek definitely has a chance. According to Ward, speed will be Adamek’s advantage, as it’s one of his strongest elements.
Will history be made in eight days? There are those who say that the chances of that happening are slim to none. And there are those who forget that there is always a first time for everything. In 1978, there was the first Polish Pope. On September 10, there may very well be the first Polish heavyweight champion. It’s about time….