Bethlehem or Bust: Adamek Decisions Cunningham
It must have been the power shots that swayed two of three judges. Most neutral observers had Cunningham winning the fight…
Saturday afternoon at the Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in a fight broadcast live on NBC, Tomasz Adamek (48-2, 29 KOs) won a controversial split decision and the IBF North American heavyweight title over Steve “USS” Cunningham (25-5, 12 KOs).
It was an action-packed fight between a boxer and a puncher, and by all appearances the boxer won.
Cunningham outlanded Adamek 209 of 515 punches to 169 of 513 for Cunningham (41% to 33%). But Adamek landed more power punches, 120 of 267 to 80 of 167 for Cunningham.
It must have been the power shots that swayed two of three judges. Most neutral observers had Cunningham winning the fight.
Fighting out of the blue corner in black trunks, Cunningham, in only his second bout at heavyweight and ceding 30 lbs. to his opponent, in many ways fought the perfect fight. Using a pinpoint jab and keeping his distance, he bolted to an early lead and won five of the first six rounds.
Adamek, fighting out of the red corner in white trunks with blue trim, seemed unable to let his hands go. Whether it was Cunningham’s speed or the result of his superior boxing, Adamek looked slow and one-dimensional.
Things opened up in round 7. Both fighters were hell bent for leather as they ate and traded punches. Adamek would land, Cunningham would counter, and sometimes vice-versa. And so it continued for the rest of the fight.
There’s no question Adamek came on after the midpoint. He won some rounds and lost others, but those rounds were close and tough to call. But since Cunningham had built up such a comfortable lead in the first half of the fight, most people thought at the final bell that he had done enough to win the fight.
When Michael Buffer (yes, that Michael Buffer), perhaps slumming it in Bethlehem or not, read the final scores, they were 116-112 for Adamek, 115-113 for Cunningham, and 115-115, a split decision draw.
Nobody likes a draw, not the fighters, not the fans, and not the networks. But like it or not, a draw seemed conceivable under the circumstances. Not everyone was happy. Nor was everyone squawking. That was to come.
Not a minute passed before Buffer announced that there was an error on the scorecards. A loud moan swept across central Pennsylvania. The 115-115 score was either tabulated incorrectly or the penmanship was so retrograde as to be unreadable. In any event, the final score was not 115-115, as announced. It was 115-112. The winner of the fight, according to two of the three judges, was Tomasz Adamek.
Things first exploded on Twitter.
“Not a draw”
“Wow!!!! They changed the score!?!”
“Check those score cards!!!!!”
“Take two judges out and shoot them”
“That is incompetence, plain and simple. BS. Total bs”
“And you wonder why #Boxing isn’t a mainsteam [sic] sport”
Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
It was a good fight, followed by a crappy decision. We can only speculate as to why the decision was as crappy as it was, but chances are it has something to do with marketing.
We may not choose to be as laconic, or resigned, as Freddie Roach who said, “Well, that’s boxing.” But we might not want to tear our hair out, since it changes nothing.