See that photo up there? That is Tomasz Adamek in action against Steve Cunningham on Dec. 11, 2008. That scrap took place a mere 79 days ago, and it was no snoozer. This was a violent clash, with both men dishing out and absorbing countless telling blows. Both men earned a good six months off. But Adamek, after the win, in which he snagged Cunningham’s IBF cruiserweight title belt, didn’t want the down time. He told promoter Kathy Duva that he wanted to glove up again, and soon. So she booked him a title defense, against Johnathan Banks at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ on Friday evening.
Adamek, who would’ve been second-guessed furiously if he’d come up short against Banks, knew exactly what he was doing. He fought at a measured pace, and dragged young Banks, who’d been tutored by Manny Steward, into the deep end, and dunked him. The end came at 1:30 of the eighth, after Banks’ energy waned; Adamek scored a knockdown and came in for the kill, and the TKO win, on a man who didn’t have the experience under his belt to stay the course, and keep a stubborn, strong, seasoned Pole at bay.
Banks (20-0, with 14 KOs entering; age 26; 200 pounds; from Michigan) was ranked No. 1 by the IBF. The former light heavyweight champ Adamek (36-1, with 24 KOs entering; age 32; 199 pounds; from Poland) enjoyed a homefield advantage, as thousand of Jersey Poles chanted his name before and during his scrap. All of them were intent on making the Kronk gym wait a little bit longer to celebrate another homegrown champion. It has been 25 years since a Kronk homegrown hitter won a title, and counting…
In the first, Banks worked the jab. He keeps the left low, Kronk-style, and fires the jab from his waist usually. The Pole ate a right, which shut up his fanatics momentarily, early on. They roared back, “Adamek, Adamek,” and the fighter did too; he popped a couple straight rights. In the second, Banks showed quick hands with his counters. He ate a right with five seconds to go that cleared his sinuses. In the third, both men held their ground.
In round four, Adamek ate a couple tosses, and a mean left hook, and his right eye blew up some. In the fifth, Adamek still wasn’t firing with near the same frequency as we’ve seen before. He respected Banks’ power, and was also lulled into keeping the same pace as the Kronk kid. In round six, the Pole fired a lowish blow, which Banks shrugged off. But Banks started to tire, and his corner started to get worried. In the seventh, Adamek built on his momentum. In round eight, Banks stung the Pole, but didn’t follow up well. Adamek answered, with a right during a trade which sent Banks down. He was up, on shaky legs. He looked fatigued. Could he survive against the Pole, who has a finishing instinct? Adamek attacked, backed him into a corner, and whaled away as the Pru Center shook. He softened him with body blows, and then hurled 14 punches without a response. The ref stepped in as Banks slid to the mat, out. The joint exploded as Banks, on his knees, found out that the journey from contender to champion can be painful, and for him, will have to be completed another day. TSS wondered before if this was a case of too much, too soon, if he had the seasoning to stay with Adamek. We see that he did not.
After, Adamek said he respected Banks' right, but he listened to his corner, and stayed patient. He also said he will fight as a heavyweight, and try to win a heavyweight title. Viewers might be left wondering: would it have helped Banks if his tutor Steward, who was training him but now only manages him, had been in his corner?
Giovanni Lorenzo (age 28; 159 pounds; from the DR, living in NY; 26-1, with 18 KOs entering; No. 5 in the IBF) met Dionisio Miranda (age 26; 159 pounds; from Colombia; 19-2-2, with 17 KOs entering; No. 9 in the IBF) on the ShoBox opener. It was billed as an IBF middleweight title shot eliminator. Lorenzo was a DR Olympian in 2000. He has the basics down, we saw in the first round. His guard was high, as Miranda, the protoype Colombian winger, looked to land a bomb. In the second, Lorenzo dropped Miranda with a straight right, truly a bomb of his own. He didn’t make the count. The punch, right on the chin, came after a tiny feint, and as Miranda’s left hand was low. What’s the modern term for queer street? Whatever it is, that’s where Miranda was. He did well to try and rise. The official time was 2:48 of the second. Not to quibble after such an explosive close, but I would’ve liked to see a bit more of Lorenzo.