Ringside report by Gary Purfield
Saturday at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ Tomasz Adamek (47-2, 29 KO) reminded everyone why he became such a fan favorite amongst his Polish faithful and boxing fans in general when he gutted out a thrilling fifth round knockout of Travis Walker (39-8-1, 31 KO) in the main event of a heavyweight loaded card. Adamek had to overcome adversity but showed his fighting spirit in a barnburner of a heavyweight bout.
Main Events Promotions which has been hosting Adamek headlined cards for some time now hosted some heavyweight action broadcast on Wealth TV and PPV in Poland with a rare old fashioned Saturday afternoon start time. While the crowd was much smaller than the typical Adamek crowd those who attended got their money’s worth with several knockouts and exciting bouts.
In the main event the Polish native now living in New Jersey Adamek was looking to stay active and show he is still a force in the heavyweight division. The former light heavyweight and cruiserweight champ seemed to be losing a step in his last few bouts including in his last bout when he won a controversial decision over Eddie Chambers. Adamek barely pulled out a decision despite Chambers fighting the entire fight with one arm due to an early injury.
Tonight Adamek’s performance may have created as many questions as he answered but one thing is still clear. When he fights fans can count on exciting action and a tough boxer that battle through anything to get the win and give the fans their money’s worth.
Round one saw the two men ease into each other. Then they exploded in round two which will certainly be in the discussion for round of the year. Early in the round Walker landed an overhand right that shockingly sent the iron chinned Adamek hard to the canvas. It was a strange site indeed. Even in his lopsided loss to Vitali Klitschko, Adamek was never dropped hard but only suffered knockdowns when falling into the ropes. This time he went straight down to the floor and rose on wobbly legs.
Walker plowed in attempting to seize his opportunity for a huge upset and the biggest win of his career. He landed several more big right hands and it seemed a matter of time before Adamek was going to go. Except he wasn’t ready to end his night.
Late in the round Adamek came out of nowhere to land a perfect right of his own and send Walker to the floor. When Walker got to his feet a rejuvenated Adamek charged in to pound away. Walker only survived thanks to the end of the round but had to take shots in the corner for several seconds after the round ended as Adamek didn’t hear the ringing of the bell due to the crowd erupting while referee Eddie Cotton failed to get in between the action.
In rounds three and four Adamek remained on the attack and appeared to be taking control of the fight while Walker stayed in the mix by landing a few hard shots of his own. Then in round five Adamek landed a series of hard shots including a brutal straight right-left hook combo that badly stunned and hurt his opponent. Adamek being one who knows how to finish put his man in the corner where he landed a flurry of unanswered shots on the barely standing Walker forcing Eddie Cotton to step in and halt the action. The official end came at 1:08 of round five.
Adamek may not be fighter he was a few years ago but still has the ability to put on a show. It is hard not to love a warrior who will battle through adversity with such guts and determination. He looked finished in round two but refused to give in and willed his way to a thrilling win.
In the ten round co-main event former cruiserweight champ Steve Cunningham (25-4, 12 KO) made a successful entrance into the heavyweight division with a workman like performance that netted a unanimous decision over Jason Gavern (21-11, 4 KO) by scores of 100-90 twice and 99-91. After years of fighting mainly in Europe on opponents turf for relatively small paydays in the cruiser division the Philadelphia native Cunningham decided at thirty-six years of age to test his mettle in the land of the giants.
Cunningham looked good in defeating Gavern who is tough but more of a journeyman than a contender. He was able to use his far superior skills to control nearly every minute of the fight and land his punches with ease. Several times Cunningham seemed to have Gavern hurt but was never able to finish the job.
No one doubts Cunningham’s ability or his desire to succeed at heavyweight. The questions will come in the form of whether or not he has the power to really compete in the division. Cunningham will likely need some time to put on weight and grow into the division and may be best served gaining experience against other Jason Gavern’s before getting in with a real contender.
In the opening heavyweight bout rising contender Bryant Jennings from North Philly made short work of the overmatched Chris Koval. Jennings burst onto the scene in January of this year when he stepped into the main event of the first Fight Night card on six days’ notice to win a unanimous decision over fellow undefeated youngster Maurice Byarm. He followed this up with two more Fight Night wins including stopping former heavyweight title holder Sergei Liakhovich in a dominant performance.
Jennings was probably in his easiest bout so far this year with Koval but handled his business considering the opponent. Less than thirty seconds into the fight Jennings landed a solid right followed by a big left hook that put Koval down. Seconds after the action resumed Jennings landed another combination, this time a left hook followed by a big right hand. Koval went down hard and referee David Franciosi didn’t bother counting as Koval was clearly done. The end came only thirty five seconds into round one.
If Jennings three big performances this year were lacking anything it was a highlight reel KO. He took care of that tonight and will now look to continue his development and progression up the rankings.
In the opening TV bout Jerry Belmontes (17-0, 5 KO) won a hard fought unanimous decision over Joselito Collado (13-2, 3 KO) by scores of 77-75 and 78-74 twice in an eight round Jr. Lightweight scrap. Both fighters were willing to engage in heated exchanges and made for a fun bout. Collado applied the pressure but Belmontes was a step ahead in skill and landed the cleaner blows.
Emerging Jr. Welterweight Jose Peralta (10-1, 6 KO) looked good dominating the overmatched Christian Steele (3-5, 1 KO) in a six round affair. Peralta put his man down with a left hook in round two. Then in round three scored a second knockdown, this time with a straight right hand. Steele got to his feet but referee David Franciosi called a halt to the fight as Steele was in no place to continue. The stoppage came at forty six seconds of round three.
In the opening bout of the evening Philadelphia’s Karl Dargan (11-0, 6 KO) stayed unbeaten stopping Jesse Carradine (8-2-1, 4 KO). After three fairly uneventful rounds Dargan put Carradine down with a straight right in round four. Carradine got up but had no intention of fighting as he repeatedly grabbed Dargan twisting and locking his opponent’s arms. Referee David Fields stopped the bout after the continued holding giving Dargan a TKO at 1:04 of round four. The stoppage seemed a bit premature with no warnings for the holding, but Carradine seemed to have no desire to fight so it was a moot point. Dargan has tons of skill and talent but needs to be more active than fighting once a year and would serve himself well to begin fighting with more intensity to show off his considerable abilities.
Overall what seemed to be a card with the making of showcase fights turned out to be filled with excitement, knockouts, and solid action. The sad part is this was by far the smallest crowd for an Adamek fight at the Prudential Center in some time, but if fans get a chance to see what occurred Saturday afternoon they may come back for the next go round.
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