O Bethlehem: Adamek vs. Cunningham II
Much is being made of the fact that the fight will be broadcast live Saturday afternoon on NBC, and for good reason…
Saturday afternoon from the Sands Casino Resort in the little town of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, former cruiserweight champions Tomasz Adamek (47-2, 29 KOs) and Steve Cunningham (25-4, 12 KOs), both 36 years old and now campaigning at heavyweight, fight a rematch of their memorable battle from four years ago at the Prudential Center in Newark.
Much is being made of the fact that the fight will be broadcast live Saturday afternoon at 4:00 PM/ET on NBC, and for good reason. The last time NBC broadcast a fight was way back in 2005, as part of the interesting but imperfect and now defunct “The Contender.” CBS recently broadcast a fight spotlighting Leo Santa Cruz and their numbers were through the roof. However symbiotic the relationship between cable and boxing might be, the folks in the heartland aren’t watching HBO, Showtime, or ESPN, let alone Wealth TV. Their eyes, like eyes everywhere, are glued to the tube, but they’re watching NBC, CBS and ABC.
In their first meeting on Dec. 11, 2008, Adamek dropped USS Cunningham three times, won a split decision by scores of 115-112, 112-114, and 116-110, and walked away with Cunningham’s IBF cruiserweight title.
Since that bout, Cunningham has fought just six times, and lost two of the six to Yoan Pablo Hernandez in 2011 and 2012. Adamak, by contrast, has been a busy man. He had three fights in 2009, four fights in 2010, two in 2011, and three thus far in 2012. Excluding a loss to Vitali Klitschko in Sept. 2011, Goral won them all and is the betting favorite going into tomorrow’s fight.
“I know everybody is waiting for Saturday,” said the Polish-born Adamek at yesterday’s press conference in Bethlehem. “I’m waiting too. I’m ready. We had a good camp. This is Steve’s big chance, the rematch from 2008. But I’m working very hard. I started with Roger in 2009, and I am a different fighter, as everybody will see. I’m feeling good. I had good sparring. And I’m ready for war.”
The Roger of whom Adamek spoke is his trainer Roger Bloodworth.
“It’s great to be back on NBC, on network,” he said. “Everybody gets to see a fight. I said before that there are not going to be any losers in this fight, because we expect Steve to bring his best. We’re bringing our best. We had a great camp. The fans are going to love it. It’s going to be a great fight. I don’t have to tell you to buy tickets because it’s on free TV.”
Steve Cunningham is experiencing a Second Coming, as a fighter fighting in the U.S. after a long European hiatus, and as a fighter fighting on network TV for the first time.
“I’m feeling very blessed to be in this position to fight on network television,” said Cunningham, who is trained by Naazim Richardson and has been sparring with Chazz Witherspoon in Philly. “My team is great. I feel confident. I feel good. I’m just ready to fight. It’s showtime, or I guess it’s NBC time. I hope you guys enjoy what you see on Saturday. I’m going to bring my best, I’m sure he’ll bring his best, and hopefully we’ll live up to the hype.”
Living up to the hype is what boxing is about. When boxing falls short we chalk it up to technical difficulties beyond our control. But when boxing fulfills its promise—all of us are satisfied, those in the ring, those in the stands, and those watching at home.
“We’ve seen this fight before,” said Kathy Duva, CEO of Main Events, “and yet it’s going to be all new. They are both in a different weight class. They both have different trainers. They both have taken the long path back to each other from very different directions. So this is one of those fights that when the bell rings, I’m going to sit back and just try to enjoy it.”
‘Tis the season to be boxing. O Tannebaum. O Bethlehem. O the Fight Game.