Saturday night isn't just about Hopkins-Calzaghe, though that is the fight that has the boxing world buzzing right now, and is the biggest on the schedule currently.
ESPN Classic will present a live cruiserweight bout between former light heavyweight titlist Tomasz Adamek and former cruiserweight king O'Neil Bell, live at 6PM ET from Katowice, Poland -- Adamek's turf.
Need a primer? OK, let's make it simple. Chances are, this one will be an all-out fight. Neither guy specializes in pitty-pat shots or defensive boxing. Both guys are at their very best when they're trading blows and going all-out.
If you've never seen the knee-buckling wars between Adamek and Paul Briggs, do yourself a favor and seek those out. And if you've never seen the two great fights between Bell and Jean-Marc Mormeck, do the same. And if you watch those and still don't want to see Adamek-Bell, you're bonkers.
Yes, Adamek looked lost during a 12-round, thorough loss to Chad Dawson last year, but he's come back as a cruiserweight with two tune-up wins. And honestly, Adamek looked so awful that night against Bell that I really want to chalk it up to just being one of those nights, against the wrong opponent. Dawson disposed of Adamek with little trouble, though Adamek did floor him late in the fight in a moment of brilliance that would leave as soon as it arrived.
And sure, Bell hasn't fought in over a year since dropping the rematch to Mormeck, but it was a tremendous fight, an early FotY candidate in 2007. But I have no worries. This is going to be a good fight.
It's good they're starting at such different times, or the hardcore action boxing fan in me would almost want to choose Adamek-Bell over Hopkins-Calzaghe, and that's no joke and no hype job. While the fight between the two champions promises to be tactical warfare at its very best, bombs will be flying in the cruiserweight showdown from Poland.
Let's assume both are in good shape. I don't think any rustiness on Bell's behalf will hurt him much, since Adamek has yet to face a stiff test at cruiserweight and hasn't had a tough fight since the stunningly one-sided loss to Dawson last year.
The power is in Bell's favor. He's the naturally bigger man and has even entertained ideas of going up to heavyweight in recent months. He's better-built, stronger, and is a KO artist -- on his 26-2 record, 24 of the wins have come by knockout. As for Adamek, his 33-1 slate includes 22 KOs, which is not a bad ratio, either.
Bell is considered by most, I think, to be a rather heavy favorite. But Adamek has a lot of guts. The two fights with Briggs showed that, and even the loss to Dawson did. Most guys would have given up at some point, and while it did look like Adamek had almost completely forgotten how to fight against Dawson, he never did quit on himself.
Is it likely to be a Fight of the Year-type of bout? Probably not, especially with Vazquez-Marquez III and Marquez-Pacquiao II at the top of the list, tough hills to climb for any matchup. But it could and should be an action-packed brawl from start to finish, and that finish is almost certainly coming before the end of the scheduled 12 rounds.
This is not for titles. This is not even an eliminator. Bell is fighting to get his name back in the mix, and Adamek is fighting to truly put himself into the cruiserweight fold. Both of these guys really need this win right now. With David Haye leaving the division, it's wide open. Steve Cunningham, Jean-Marc Mormeck, Enzo Maccarinelli, and a few others have solid spots in the division, some more deserving than others, but none without flaws. The 200-pound division is one of the most volatile in the sport; every guy you could rank in the top ten is vulnerable. Every single one. And Bell and Adamek are no different.
I look for Bell to take a couple of rounds to get his feet wet and get his game really going, but after that, his power should overwhelm Adamek. But Tomasz is a tough, tough guy. Unless it's a monster shot, one knockdown isn't going to keep him down. And anything can happen in a fight like this.
That's why we'll be here on Saturday night at 6PM ET to watch, score and talk about this fight, live as it happens, something of a warm-up for Hopkins-Calzaghe. If you ask me right now which fight I think will be better, I'll take Adamek-Bell without thinking twice.