Cries of "Robbery!" were far and wide this past Saturday after Tomasz Adamek was given a split decision victory over Steve Cunningham after the pair traded punches for 36 minutes in a battle that was not quite as good as the first, though was very solid in its own right. Nevertheless, nearly everyone believed Cunningham deserved it, some even felt by a very wide margin. Our own Ryan Bivins, sitting at press row, scored it 118-111 for Cunningham. From my couch, I came up with a 116-113 score for Cunningham. It seemed a clear victory.
Nevertheless, there has been a small group of people claiming they could see the fight going to Adamek. One of the most influential is Harold Lederman, HBO's unofficial boxing judge. Lederman was live at the fight, and was able to give his account of what took place in the ring. Here is what he told Boxing Scene:
"From my vantage point in the back, I scored it 115-113 for Adamek. I thought that Steve Cunningham had nobody to blame but himself. He would throw one right hand and start running again. He never put two right hands together the entire fight, he just wouldn't sustain an attack. He was circling and circling and circling. He landed an occasional really good right hand - a real scoring punch - and then was on his horse again. I just don't think you can win that way. When you stop and you fire a hard right hand, jump on a guy, try to hurt him, try to get him out of there. He didn't do it."
"On the other hand, Adamek was walking him down, was trying to cut the ring off and catch him with good right hands and tried to sustain an attack - throw more than one punch. I just think that's what you have to do to win a fight like that. For Cunningham, if you're going to move and box, then move and box, but if you land a real good shot for Christ's sake, then take advantage of it. Come back with a left hook, come back with two right hands. Just throw more than one shot. Steve Cunningham didn't do that."
"It was close enough to be controversial. I think it probably made great television, it was a very exciting fight. Cunningham gave away rounds in a fight that was a close fight. He needed to do something aggressive, not just throw one punch and get on his horse. I think that's what hurt him."
Let me say that I do respect Lederman's opinion. Though I can disagree with his scorecards from time-to-time on HBO, he has certainly scored more fight than I (and most of us) ever have. Before his HBO gig, he was an actual official judge as well. In other words, he's a guy that knows the ins and outs of how to judge a professional boxing match.
But I must disagree pretty strongly with him here. Adamek may have been the clear aggressor for most of the fight, but I never felt it was overly effective. I do think Cunningham started to tire a bit down the stretch, but Adamek didn't do nearly enough to justify winning at least seven rounds on just pressure alone. Lederman says that Cunningham frequently threw one punch at a time, yet Adamek would often do the same while trying to land that big right hand that could change the whole fight. It never came, and Adamek spent much of the day looking like those people that try to find Sasquatch. They hear things, they make noise, yet, always seem to go home empty handed.