Sandwiched between North Philadelphia and North East Philadelphia, Kensington's Rock Ministries Gym hosted an open workout on Tuesday, Dec. 11 for Steve Cunningham, a 2 time cruiserweight world champion and now heavyweight contender. Cunningham is scheduled to battle with former cruiserweight rival Tomasz Adamek in a long anticipated rematch on Dec. 22nd, live on NBC. The winner will secure a #2 rating in the IBF behind top rated Kubrat Pulev. Pulev vs the Adamek-Cunningham winner is not only potentially a final eliminator for the IBF crown, but it arguably reveals who the best heavyweight in the world not named Klitschko is.
But I'm getting ahead of myself going into all of that. The focus right now is Cunningham vs Adamek II. Steve lost a tight split decision to Tomasz back in 2008 and easily would have won if he didn't get dropped 3 times along the way. The fight saw back and forth action from start to finish with Adamek taking the longer beating but dishing out the more effective one. It was the best Cruiserweight fight since James Toney beat Vassiliy Jirov in 2003. But Adamek and Cunningham were younger men back then. They were smaller men. And they were less experienced, particularly with each other. So how has time changed things? Perhaps a small look into answering that question was revealed on this media day.
Steve Cunningham Open Workout - Part 1
Steve Cunningham Open Workout - Part 2
Steve Cunningham Interview
Nazim Richardson Interview
Cunningham: "Our game plan has been just as much hard work as rest...I haven't been running 8 miles or 7 miles every other day like I was as a cruiserweight...I was training like a fighter than had to lose weight. In the [Jason] Gavern fight I felt very comfortable at 207, very comfortable. I felt energetic. I feel good."
Cunningham: "A lot of people are saying revenge; that's not in me. I'm not looking for revenge. I'm just looking to win this fight, and win it spectacularly."
Trainer Nazim Richardson: "I think Adamek is a way better heavyweight than people give him credit. He's a tough son of a gun. This is why he's willing to trade a little bit...he knows more than likely his chin can stand it more than yours can. So the guys that beat him didn't trade with him or was [big enough to trade]. So he lost to one of the smallest men he ever faced and he lost to the biggest man...He handled everything else in between."
Richardson revealed prior to and during my interview that it's no coincidence that Tomasz Adamek opponents have injured their arms during the fight, namely Chris Arreola and Eddie Chambers. Adamek targets the arm when opponents let it hang down by their side. A fighter should only expose hard areas for his opponent to punch. Some fighters are smarter than simply trying to score points. And intentionally trying to injure someone isn't necessarily illegal.
Ryan Bivins is a staff writer for BadLeftHook. You can contact him on twitter (@sweetboxing) or through email (email@example.com).