On Saturday night, Showtime is back in action with a solid card, headlined by a light heavyweight championship bout between undefeated champion Tomasz Adamek and undefeated challenger Chad Dawson.
The light heavyweight division isn't one that gets a ton of press now that the Tarver/Jones series is over, making Jones irrelevant, and also now that Bernard Hopkins has thoroughly debunked Antonio Tarver. But Saturday's showdown between Adamek and Dawson could prove to be an exceptional fight, if not one that will draw a great amount of attention at first.
Adamek, fighting out of Jersey City by way of Poland, comes in with a 31-0 record and 21 knockouts. He turned pro in 1999, fighting in Europe exclusively until 2005, when he came to Chicago to take on Paul Briggs for the vacant WBC title. Adamek beat Briggs by unanimous decision that night, and defended successfully in Germany against Thomas Ulrich, a sixth round TKO victory that October.
Adamek was out of the ring for a year before defending in a rematch with Briggs, and he scored a valiant/controversial majority decision victory five months ago, again in Chicago (well, Rosemont). Adamek was knocked down in the opening round and had a point deducted in the ninth for low blows, but won on scores of 115-111, 114-112 and 113-113.
Now 30 years old, Adamek faces a stiff challenge from 24-year old southpaw Chad Dawson. Dawson was born in South Carolina, but fights out of New Haven, Connecticut. Dawson went pro just after having turned 19 years old in 2001. His first 12 fights all took place in Connecticut, though he has traveled a bit, fighting in California, Texas and England, among other locations.
Dawson has fought at various weights over his career, ranging from 158 to 175, which he weighed in at to beat Eric Harding for the NABF light heavyweight crown last June. It was one of three wins in 2006 for "Bad" Chad, beating Jason Naugler in February and Jamie Hearn one month later. He also holds a victory over veteran Carl "The Squirrel" Daniels, which sent Daniels on his current six-fight losing streak.
Dawson, like Adamek, was down in the opening round of his last bout, when Harding dropped him. He came back to score a unanimous decision win over 12 rounds -- 117-110 on two cards, 116-111 on the third.
In addition to the light heavyweight title fight, the IBF lightweight title will be on the line when interim champion Julio Diaz squares off with the returning "El Matador" Jesus Chavez. Diaz (33-3, 24 KO) won the interim title last September, beating Ricky Quiles in dominant fashion over 12 rounds. Chavez, who held the title, has been out of the ring since September of 2005. In his last fight, he knocked out Leavander Johnson in the 11th round, on the undercard of the Barrera/Peden show in Vegas. The circumstances of Johnson's death after the fight have long weighed on Chavez's mind.
Chavez was (is?) a very good fighter, and no one will argue that. The length of time he's been out of action makes the fight pretty hard to call right now. But outside of a loss in his fifth professional fight to Carlos Gerena (which he later avenged), Chavez has only fallen to Floyd Mayweather, Jr., and Erik Morales in his career, with notable wins over Carlos Hernandez and Sirimongkol Singwangcha.
Chavez (43-3, 30 KO) is still a lot like Diaz, though: Both are good fighters looking to be great, and both have had their chances. Chavez came up on the short end against Mayweather and Morales, and Diaz lost to Jose Luis Castillo, as well as Angel Manfredy and Juan Valenzuela. A fight against one another is a step toward being remembered as something more than just a good fighter, and it's an interesting matchup.
We will be live on Saturday night with coverage of these fights. There is also a Cory Spinks/Rodney Jones fight for Spinks' IBF light middleweight title, but Showtime is choosing not to go with three fights, even though the card in Kissimmee has three legitimate world title fights. It's an interesting decision, especially given that Showtime's only real selling points these days are boxing and "Weeds," but that's the way it is.
Join us the night before the Super Bowl for round-by-round coverage and scoring of this card, and have fun this weekend.