Rematches almost always seem to pique the interest of fight fans and this Saturday the Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem, Pa. will host one long overdue.
Steve Cunningham now moves up to heavyweight for his rematch with Tomasz Adamek, marking only the second time he’ll fight at this weight. The bout is ultimately a title eliminator and both men are now 36. Adamek has been a heavyweight for over 3 yrs and that should provide him with a distinct advantage.
Adamek faced much stiffer competition against the likes of Chris Arreola, Michael Grant, Vitali Klitschko, and recently Eddie Chambers. His only loss at heavyweight came against Klitschko, where he was able to last 10 rounds before succumbing to the power advantage held by the WBC title holder.
Oddsmakers have installed the winner of the first fight, Adamek as a -340 favorite, meaning Cunningham offers backers a generous +280 if he can extract revenge.
Back in 2008 Cunningham (25-4, 12 KO’s) met Adamek (47-2, 29 KO’s) for the first time. Up till then his only loss was a controversial “split decision” to Krzystof Wlodarczyk in Poland. Six months later he was granted a rematch and earned a majority decision to capture his first world title.
It was expected that Cunningham would use his superior boxing skills and a 7 inch reach advantage to successfully defend his crown. Adamek had other ideas and immediately proved he had the power to fight bigger men, knocking the champion down three times in what was arguably the “Fight of the Year.”
The ex-U.S. Navy serviceman Cunningham showed why he deserved all the praise as he picked himself up off the canvas and fought well enough throughout to only lose by “split decision”.
Fans wanted to see an immediate rematch, but HBO believed both fighters just were not celebrated enough by casual fans and declined.
The move to heavyweight for Adamek back in 2009 was one that made financial sense even though the state of the division was not advantageous. Let’s face it, we are currently witnessing some of the most enormous heavyweights ever and for the 6’2 Adamek, whose frame is better suited for light heavyweight, the fact he’s performed so well is a tribute to the skills he possesses.
For Cunningham I believe the move was simply based on not wanting to cut weight at his age. The problem is that he will now be in the ring with opponents who pack a much more powerful punch, and for a boxer who lacks knockout power, Cunningham will be forced to use technique to win fights.
At 36, I don’t think he’ll be as quick as he once was and though he may be able to land more punches, eventually Adamek will land some of his own.
It’s either Adamek or pass and since I’ve been known to place a bet on occasion, I will have the favorite on my ticket.
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Vegas-Runner, a pro sports bettor in Las Vegas, has been featured on CNBC/ESPN. Follow him on Twitter@vegasrunner, at Pregame.com and on AM 1100 ESPN (also FM 98.9) on Fridays and Sundays from 11 pm to midnight when he co-hosts First Preview. Contact Vegas Runner at [email protected].