Bethlehem or Bust: Adamek Decisions Cunningham

By Robert Ecksel on December 22, 2012
Bethlehem or Bust: Adamek Decisions Cunningham
USS outlanded Adamek 209 of 515 punches to 169 of 513. (Rich Graessle/Main Events)

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.

“Uh Oh!”


“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.

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion


2012-12-22 Steve Cunningham & Nazim Richardson Post-Fight Interview

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  1. slovak 03:35am, 01/05/2013

    yo, instead of europe? lol what kinda freak are you. You say boxers dont make money here? Might be better and more popular to fight on hbo but comparing asia and latin america to europe maaaan you are out of it.
    To the fight…if cunningham would execute a plan then it would be up to judges to decide what they liked better but that did not happen…only in eyes of people where the fight was.

  2. bikermike 07:51am, 12/26/2012

    who won the fight ???
    tell you what….if both guys leave the ring on their feet….there will always be a dispute.

    I was in a lot of bar fights…and…in some towns…if you get out of there with your wallet…and make it to your car…or the trolley…with few wounds…you won the fight

    If….however…i was stupid enough to piss off the local bulls….and not be able to fight my way out…..well….I’d call that one a loss.  and hospital correspondence to prove it.

    This cunningham thing with adamek wasn’t that kind of battle….I was hoping for some more fire from cunningham…a cupla sparks throughout the match were there…to be sure…...but if cunningham wants to take a TITLE by decision….he gonna have to lay much more leather….and get hit much less….than that one….he looked good…but he didn’t do the thing enough.

  3. bikermike 07:44am, 12/26/2012

    had to stand in respect…when Calzaghe came across the pond…and kicked ass with bernard hopkins and Roy Jones Jr….went home and called it a career…HE CAME…HE FOUGHT…HE CONQUERED

  4. bikermike 07:39am, 12/26/2012

    Irish Frankie….north america is where the money is… or lose…a good heavyweight can make a lot of money by fighting here…instead of Europe…asia…latin america….
    ...Judges and referees are just as honest here as anywhere else…but the money is better

  5. bikermike 07:32am, 12/26/2012

    my point was…with cunningham being able to avoid punishment….and deliver leather on target….by moving and punching….why didn’t he stick to that strategy ???

    Time and time again…he’d just stop…and seemingly pose….motionless…waiting for ademek to find him and do something….

    I liked cunningham…but I could see how Adamek got that decision…..lotsa smoke…but I can see it

  6. Slovak 08:28pm, 12/25/2012

    Whoa yes he definitely did crush wtf
    Adamek is pole that does not mean he not crushed him at times if you know what I mean. Only Americans seen USS win…

  7. bikermike 07:32am, 12/25/2012

    Let’s say it was RRRRREEEAALLL Close…..if not a nudge to Cunningham.  ‘cept Cunningham kept giving the fight back to adamek posing instead of punching and moving…he did it from time to time…so why not ALL THE FKN TIME…..

    Cunningham needs to get some confidence….and be more aggressive…if he wants to fuk the girls in the hall….that the big boys wanna fk

  8. bk don 10:02am, 12/24/2012

    I scored the fight 114-114. Could cunningham have won, sure. Could Adamek have won, less likely but not inconceivable. it was a close fight. I had cunningham winning rds 1, 2, 3, 6, 8 & 10 and Adamek winning 4, 5, 7, 9, 11 and 12. The only definitive rounds to be me were 1 and 2 and 11 and 12. The others were very close were you could score them for Cunningham based on his far superior jab or Adamek based on his power punches. You can’t judge a fight based on compubox numbers, but you can’t dismiss them. Adamek landed far more power punches, 40 to be exact, with the majority of those coming in the second half of the fight. His punch output got higher in the 2nd half of the fight as cunningham was able to move less. I had some people tell me this was a robbery and they scored the fight 7 - 5 for cunningham. 7-5! One round difference. how in the world is that a robbery?

  9. Juicy Peach 08:58am, 12/23/2012

    You guys know that Cunningham won the fight!  Those judges need to be benched!!  Adamek was doing a good job in the fight. Those judges just want to see Adamek fight Wladimir which I don’t really want to see. The only thing that’s going to happen is Adamek getting beat to a pulp. He is too short for the Klits. Adamek already got the punk beat out of him with Vitali.

  10. aloha 09:14pm, 12/22/2012

    You should have seen the bookies, they make all important decisions…

  11. FrankinDallas 08:18pm, 12/22/2012

    Close fight….probably should have been a draw. But when they read the scorecards, someone said “Would anyone pay to see Wlad Klit crush Cunningham?” Quick answer was NO, so they changed the scorecards. Like Freddie Roach said, “That’s boxing.”.

  12. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo (aka) Gimpel 03:59pm, 12/22/2012

    No question about Glazkov though….who will knock the latest “American” heavyweight prospect right off his stilts!

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