This summer during the 4th of July weekend the few American boxing fans who still follow the heavyweight division had their eyes glued to their television sets hoping, perhaps even praying, that contender David Haye could spark some life into the division by knocking out longtime champion Wladimir Klitschko.
Haye seemed, unlike so many Klitschko opponents, to have the tools to get the job done. He was fast, strong, aggressive and he had the brash personality that Americans love, and sometimes love to hate, in a great heavyweight fighter.
Then the fight started.
After the dust had settled and Haye had gone out the lamb to Klitschko’s lion, the realization set in that the two Ukrainian brothers had virtually nothing left to prove. They had beaten all comers in decidedly lopsided fashion, there was nobody left to fight. Or was there?
Enter the quiet, unassuming Tomasz Adamek. Without much fanfare Adamek accepted an offer to challenge Vitali Klitschko for his version of the heavyweight title. The bout will take place in Adamek’s home country of Poland. It will be his first time fighting in front of his native fans in seven years.
Unlike Haye, Adamek has very little to say about his chances. Bookmakers are paying out on him at around 5-1, if not greater. He makes no promises save one, he will do absolutely anything in his power to try and win this fight.
In an era where Klitschko dominance has seldom been remotely challenged, a fighter who gives his word to at least try is sadly a rare and welcome sight, and unlike Haye’s similar promises, Adamek’s history backs his words up.
Hardly Rocky Balboa when it comes to underdogs, Adamek is an accomplished and decorated champion, having success in both the light heavyweight and cruiserweight divisions before moving up to the glamour weight class. What Adamek does not have, however, are distinct physical advantages. He is not abnormally fast, powerful or agile. He had a good frame for the lower divisions, but when it comes to comparing his size to Vitali, he is lilliputian.
Everything Adamek has, he has earned by perfecting his craft. While things may have come easy at times for a superior athlete like Haye, Adamek could cut no corners perfecting his craft. Because of this fact he has had to develop ring savvy and technique that is far beyond the average prizefighter.
Will this attributes be enough to beat a man that rarely lost so much as a round in his professional career? The answer, unfortunately for the 40 some thousand Polish fans who will attend on Saturday is, “Probably not.”
Conventional wisdom tells us that for all Adamek’s abilities, he is just too small, and Klitschko is just too good. One thing is nearly certain though; this small man will fight with a big heart, which is more than the last would-be Klitschko killer can say.