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Sizing Up Arreola-Adamek

Kathy Duva remembers when undefeated cruiserweight Evander Holyfield announced he was going heavyweight and was setting his sights on Mike Tyson. Nobody came right out and laughed, but plenty of people felt like it.

"Everybody said it couldn't be done, and I had to keep telling reporters, 'No, no, he can do it,'" says Duva. "There are parallels here with Tomasz."

One is that like Holyfield, Adamek (40-1, 27 KO) is promoted by Duva's company, Main Events. Another is they both have granite chins, no small asset when you're facing guys 30 or 40 pounds heavier like Arreola is.

Despite the size difference, Arreola's trainer Henry Ramirez is not taking the newly minted heavyweight lightly. He expects a good fight from Adamek but gives him no chance to beat his fighter. When asked who Arreola would want to face next if he defeated Adamek on April 24, Ramirez quickly said: "You mean when he beats Adamek."

Both Duva and the Polish-born Adamek aren't buying that. They confidently expect to hand Arreola his second loss in three fights. "People seem to think Tomasz can't win, but he believes he can and so do I," Duva said. "I have absolutely no doubt he can do what Holyfield did. I told HBO last year Tomasz can be the next great champion."

Some thought Arreola (28-1, 25 KOs) might be just that until he ran into a bigger and better man in Vitali Klitschko and suffered a beat down. Because of that devastating loss, the stakes here couldn't be any higher for Arreola. A victory, Ramirez says, "will put us right back in the title mix."

The same can be said about Adamek. "For Adamek, a win would set him up for a Klitschko or Haye," says Larry Merchant. But skepticism runs deep, the HBO commentator says. "Boxing people I've spoken to think this fight is a mistake for Adamek, that Arreola is too big, young and tough."

Bigger and four years younger, yes, but tougher? That remains to be seen. Ramirez is well aware that Adamek has a tremendous will to win and a gritty, relentless determination. "Some people see this as an easy fight for Chris, but Adamek is an authentic fighter who comes at you with bad intentions. He has a champion's mentality," Ramirez says.

Will that be enough to offset Arreola's clear size advantage?  Duva expects the 6'-1 1/2 Adamek to weigh in at 215. Ramirez says the 6'-4 Arreola, who was 263 for his last fight, has been working with strength and conditioning coach Darryl Hudson and will come into the ring at a relatively svelte 240 pounds.

But size doesn't necessarily determine fights. A certain Filipino boxer in the past two years has put an indelible stamp on the Mark Twain adage: It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog. "Smaller, faster guys can beat bigger guys, as Pacquiao has proved," Duva says.

Adamek certainly has faster hands and feet than the 29-year-old Arreola, but he isn't Pacquiao.  Also working against Adamek is his fondness for brawling. If he tries that with Arreola, it could prove a recipe for disaster. "We expect Adamek to box a lot," Ramirez says. "If he stands right in front of Chris it will be a short fight."

Adamek's two trainers, Ronnie Shields and Roger Bloodworth, say that won't happen. Much of the 33-year-old Adamek's training camp has focused on honing his boxing skills, which served him well as an amateur when he had a 108-12 record fighting out of Poland. But the best laid plans of mice and boxers don't always go according to Hoyle. Adamek proved that in his last fight, a surprisingly tough unanimous decision over former Olympian Jason Estrada.

"My trainer (at the time) Andrzej Gmitruk wanted me to be more boxer than puncher, and was screaming at me in the corner," Adamek said after the Estrada fight. "But how can I fight differently when I have 10,000 red and white fans screaming for me to do just that?"

The Estrada fight took place at the Prudential Center in Newark, where the area has a large population of Poles. Those fans will be 3,000 miles removed in this fight, which will be contested in Arreola's backyard of Ontario, CA. Duva says that might just help Adamek to stay focused on his game plan.

"The funny thing is that when they proposed to have the fight in California, I thought, 'Here we have built up this huge foundation in Newark, why go there?' But he may be better off for it," Duva says. Plan or no plan, Ramirez is skeptical that Adamek can stick to boxing for the entire fight. It's not in his nature. "Adamek has a fighter's mentality, and at some point that is going to kick in and he'll go at it with Chris."

Whether or not Adamek likes the scenario, there's no question his best chance is to outwork and outbox Arreola and win on points. If the heavy-handed Vitali couldn't knock Arreola down, it's highly unlikely the Polish fighter can. "Adamek doesn't have a chance of hurting Chris with one punch," Ramirez says. "Adamek gets his power from throwing combos and tries to wear you down. I don't think he'll be able to do that with Chris."

However it plays out, Merchant sees the potential for both fighters gaining. "Everyone thinks it will be a helluva fight, in which case a loss would slow down but certainly not ruin either of their futures. And if it's really good, a rematch in Newark could happen," Merchant says.

 

"For Adamek, a win would set him up for a Klitschko or Haye," says Larry Merchant. But skepticism runs deep, the HBO commentator says. "Boxing people I've spoken to think this fight is a mistake for Adamek, that Arreola is too big, young and tough."

Posted 12:00 AM | Apr 14, 2010

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