HBO WCB - Sept 10, 2011

Vitali Klitschko vs. Tomasz Adamek

Yuriorkis Gamboa vs. Daniel Ponce de Leon

Two Fighters with much in common battle for Heavyweight Supremacy

Aug 25, 2011

Tomasz Adamek is not one of the usual suspects Vitali Klitschko has been facing the past few years. He's a two-division champion with eight title fights on his resume, has a rock solid chin and an indomitable will to win. Unfortunately for Adamek, Klitschko has the same credentials. And oh yeah, he's a lot bigger.

In order for Adamek to pull off the upset he will need to take full advantage of the two things he has a significant advantage of over Klitschko: superior hand speed and greater boxing ability.

"Tomasz is the best pure fighter Vitali has faced since Lennox Lewis, and that will be something Vitali has to deal with," says Kathy Duva, Adamek's promoter. "Tomasz is also not one of the fighters Vitali faced who were already beaten before they entered the ring."

That does not mean that Adamek - who often liked to brawl when he was a light heavyweight and cruiserweight champion - will stand toe-to-toe with power-punching Klitschko, who has 39 knockouts among his 42 victories. At least that's not the game plan trainer Roger Bloodworth has worked on with Adamek. But as they say, the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray.

One thing that might knock Adamek out of his stick-and-move strategy is the crowd. This fight will take place in a newly built soccer stadium in Adamek's native country of Poland, where up to 44,000 fans are expected to turn out. Boxers fighting before a heavily-biased home crowd have been known to play to the fans. Duva is not concerned. "The crowd will not work against Tomasz. He's fought in stadiums before. There were 20,000 fans when Tomasz knocked out Golota in Poland."

The partisan crowd shouldn't have any effect on Klitschko, either, according to Tom Loeffler, managing director of K-2 Promotions, the company founded by Vitali and his brother Wladimir in 2003. "Vitali is one of the strongest people I know in terms of being focused," Loeffler says. "When he fought Lennox Lewis in the Staples Center (Los Angeles), 80 percent were cheering for Lewis and didn't know much about Vitali, but he eventually earned the crowd's respect. When he is focused, nothing can deter Vitali."

Klitschko's record (42-2) attests to that. If it weren't for bad fortune, Klitschko would be entering the ring on Sept. 10 unbeaten. Both of his losses - to Lewis and Chris Byrd - came as a result of an injury he sustained during the fight, which rendered him unable to continue. In both of those fights Klitschko was ahead on all three scorecards at the time of the stoppage.

A similar case could be made for Adamek. The Polish-born boxer, who fights out of Jersey City, N.J., has just one loss in 44 fights, and there were extenuating circumstances in that defeat by Chad Dawson in 2007. "Part of the reason for his loss to Dawson was problems making the weight," Duva says. "He walks around at about 217. Imagine having to get down to 175. After he beat Golota I told him in the locker room there was a chance I could get him a light heavyweight fight with Bernard Hopkins. He said, ‘No way am I going to fight at light heavyweight again.'" Immediately after the Dawson bout, Adamek moved up to cruiserweight, where he weighed in at 197 pounds, 33 more than he did for his previous bout, and has won 12 straight.

In order for Adamek to extend that winning streak, there seems to be only one way he can pull off the David and Goliath thing, and it is not by hurling stones at Klitschko's head. He must wear the 40-year-old Klitschko down with his movement and hope to take control of the fight in the later rounds. Stamina, however, has never been a problem for Klitschko. Discounting his last fight, a first-round, freakish knockout of Odlanier Solis, six of his last seven KOs have come in the 8th through 10th rounds.

More often than not it is Klitschko who wears down opponents. "Wladimir has more one-punch power than Vitali," Loeffler says, "but Vitali has a higher percentage of knockouts because of the volume of punches he throws. Adamek has a great chin and can take a punch, but nobody can hold up to Vitali over 12 rounds."

Certainly nobody who goes into the fight feeling already defeated, as Duva says most of Klitschko's victims have been. "He will not quit before he gets in the ring like Haye did against Wladimir. Everyone noticed at the press conference in New York how hard Vitali was working on trying to intimidate Tomasz. ‘You will feel my power,' Klitschko said. ‘You will feel what it is like to be in with a real heavyweight.' He sounded like Ivan Drago. Tomasz is not afraid of anybody."

About the only thing in the past Klitschko had been afraid of was injury. But since returning to the ring after a four-year retirement, Klitschko has won all seven of his fights without any physical problems, either in the ring or during training. "The rest gave his body time to recuperate," Loeffler says. Klitschko's choice of opponents since his return has also been a factor in avoiding injury. Except for Juan Carlos Gomez, a decent boxer-puncher, Klitschko has fought fighters who have stood right in front of him, nullifying any need to move a lot and test his legs. Adamek is a different animal.

"In Tomasz's last two fights he did stuff that looked a lot like ‘Sweat Pea' (Pernell Whitaker), who was also trained by Roger Bloodworth," Duva says. "More and more he is doing things that remind me of him. I wonder how Vitali will deal with a heavyweight who moves like Pernell Whitaker."

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