NEWARK, N.J. — It was a fight that bore the trappings of a horror film. If Tomas Adamek appeared to have had a close encounter with your friendly neighborhood axe murderer, six-foot-seven Michael Grant spent eleven rounds impersonating The Mummy before going Monster on Adamek. It may have been a rout on the scorecards, but over the last three minutes Adamek was in fear for his life.
Bleeding from cuts beside both eyes (one from a Grant punch, the other the result of a collision of heads for which the Pole was not exactly blameless) and stung by a couple of big twelfth-round right hands, Adamek finished on his feet only because he was able to first limbo his way out of Grant’s grasp and then run for all he was worth as the final minute ticked off the clock.
For most of the evening Adamek had been content to dart inside Grant’s reach to tattoo the bigger man with quick flurries, and was usually able to escape without fear of retaliation. Grant, who did not seem hurt, or bothered, or even particularly annoyed by Adamek’s tactics, unwaveringly pursued his own game plan – whatever that was.
Grant pawed away with a jab that rarely even grazed Adamek. Once every three or four rounds he cut loose with a roundhouse right, and on those occasions when he was able to so much as graze Adamek, seemed to wobble him a bit. Unfortunately, from Grant’s perspective, he didn’t really hurt him until the last round – and then he couldn’t catch up with him to capitalize on the damage.
“I thought I hurt him a few times, said Grant.
“Was big test, said Adamek. “I am happy I am win. I am not happy I am cut. (In Adamek’s parlance, that comes out more like “I am coot.
Main Events had entitled this one “The Big Challenge, and at 261 pounds, Grant was indeed the largest man Adamek has faced in his heavyweight incarnation. The other thing that keeps getting bigger are the crowds. Some 10,972, most of them Adamek’s Polish countrymen, turned out at the Prudential Center for this one. They were decked out in red shirts and red caps and waving red-and-white scarves and happily cheering their man – and that was before either fighter had landed a punch. As a group, you’d have to describe them as pretty easily satisfied boxing fans, but if Michael Grant can expose this many chinks in Adamek’s armor one shudders to think what a more talented heavyweight might do to him.
Even his late display of firepower Grant could manage no better than two rounds on two of the cards. Henry Grant had Adamek winning 118-110 and John Potrraj (who scored the sixth even) 118-111. Robert Grasso returned a 117-111 card that matched that of The Sweet Science. Adamek said he thought he had won all twelve rounds. If he really did believe that, Grant must have hit him even harder in the 12th than originally suspected.
It’s hard to blame Adamek, or his promoters, for what was in sheer boxing terms an essentially pointless charade. On the other hand, the crowd went home happy. That may be your answer right there.
At almost any stage of a boxer’s career an opponent who is a former world title challenger with a 46-3 record can be a good scalp to collect, and the fact that the 6-7 Grant towered over Adamek helped foster the illusion of competiveness among a loyal and mostly Polish-born audience already eager to suspend disbelief, but in the end you have to sort of wonder a couple of things: Why is Michael Grant still doing this, and what benefit, if any, accrued to Adamek’s career from a fight like this one?
A decade ago the late Bill Cayton had spent half a dozen years constructing a house-of-cards career that would earn Grant four million dollars for freezing in his tracks against Lennox Lewis at the Garden. We saw Grant for the first time, if memory serves, on the undercard of George Foreman’s historic upset of Michael Moorer. A year later we found ourselves in Lewiston, Maine, when Grant knocked out 6’10 Stanley Wright.
Muhammad Ali was another witness at ringside that night. Cayton later approached me to eagerly ask what I’d thought of Grant’s performance against Wright.
“Well, I replied diplomatically, “it was interesting to see him in the role of the smaller and quicker boxer.
Forget the fact that Adamek was the first man to defeat Grant in more than half a dozen years. The fact of the matter is that it has been 11 years since Michael Grant beat an opponent of consequence, and in that one Andrew Golota had a seven-point lead on two scorecards when he quit in the tenth.There must be something else Grant can do for a living.
It was in any case the fourth straight win for Adamek in his heavyweight incarnation. The Pole is now 12-0 since surrendering his light-heavyweight title to Chad Dawson in his only career loss three and a half years ago.
“You have not seen the last of me, said Grant afterward.
That’s what we were afraid of.
The Love Child reclaimed a spot on the winning side of the ledger, but he didn’t do much to reclaim his place among the world’s best junior middleweights. Joel Julio, who had lost three of his last four fights (to Alfredo Angulo, James Kirkland, and Sergei Dzinziruk) coming into his co-feature against Jamaal Davis, won a unanimous decision but not much else in a decidedly indolent showing against the Philadelphia journeyman.
Early in his career Julio (36-4) was knocking everybody out, but his last three wins have all come by decision. Although Davis gave a good account of himself in the early going, once Julio was cut under the right eye in the third round it seemed to energize him, and for several rounds he slapped Davis around the ring before lapsing back into the languid rhythm that had obtained in the first couple of rounds.
Davis, now 12-7, never seemed close to going out, and seemed much the fresher boxer at the conclusion of the putrid ten-rounder. Donald Givens scored it 99-92, Alan Rubenstein 98-92, and Lynn Carter 97-93. (TSS had it 96-94.)
Although the Main Events show was domestically televised as a modestly-priced pay-per-view card, the bill was also beamed back to Poland, where it was televised live. One can only imagine the reaction in living rooms back in Gdansk when they tuned to PolSat and discovered they were watching an eight-rounder between Sadam and Lenin.
That all-despot matchup saw Brooklyn’s Sadam Ali knock out Lenin Arroyo with a fifth-round body shot. Now 9-0 as a pro, the 2008 Olympian had dominated his Costa Rican opponent, winning each of the first four rounds on all three cards even before the pivotal punch. Set up by a straight right, Ali landed a hard left to the body that utterly paralyzed Arroyo, who could not beat Steve Smoger’s count. In absorbing his sixth straight loss Arroyo fell to 20-13 – though his defense it should probably be noted that Ali was Arroyo’s fourth straight undefeated opponent. (The quartet of Ali, Mike Jones, James De La Rosa, and Mike Alvarado was an aggregate 70-0 when they went up against Lenin.)
“He’d had more than twice as many fights as I had, pointed out Sadam, who spent the first four rounds pressuring the Costa Rican veteran – when he wasn’t dancing away from the spectacularly wild roundhouse punches Arroyo occasionally threw.
“I like to entertain, said Ali, who pointed out that he was just the second man in 33 fights– Alvarado, in his last fight, had been the first – to have stopped Arroyo short of the distance..
Fighting for the first time since he was stopped by Vincent Arroyo to incur his only pro loss on the Martinez-Pavlik card back in April, Paterson junior welter Jeremy Bryan was awarded a first round TKO when his Pittsburgh opponent Daniel Mitchell quit on his stool before the bell could signal the second. Mitchell, a reluctant participant even before he got hit, went down of his own volition in the first, and seemed mildly annoyed when referee Randy Neumann ordered him to his feet instead of ruling a knockdown. Once the round ended, Mitchell took matters into his own hands, and claimed to the ringside doctor that he couldn’t see out of his left eye as the result of a Bryan punch. The argument might have been more persuasive, “but the other eye was the one that got hit, said Neumann. Bryan, in any case improved to 14-1 with the win. Mitchelll is 5-2-1.
In a bout that represented the pro debut for both fighters, Tyrone Luckey made short work of Floridian Larry Yanez in less than a minute. Luckey dropped Yanez with a jolting left hook. Although he made it to his feet, Yanez was so wobbled that Smoger quickly intervened to stop it with the official time 54 seconds of the first round.
Atlantic City junior lightweight Osnel Charles improved to 4-2 with a unanimous decision over Hector Collado (0-2-1) in their four-round prelim.(39-36 Givens; 38-37 Carter and Rubenstein.)
Brooklyn southpaw Shemuel Pagan, turning pro after an amateur career that saw him win five Daily News Golden Gloves titles, posted a lopsided decision over Philadelphia’s Raul Rivera (0-3-1). Cut by what Smoger ruled a punch in the first round, Pagan came back in the second to deck his opponent, following a jab with a hard right hook. Although Rivera was wounded, he fought gamely, and Pagan displayed impressive patience in taking his attack to the body. By the time the fourth round ended, Pagan was hitting Rivera with everything but the ring post, but the Philadelphian was still there at the end. Rubenstein and Givens both gave Pagan a two-point round in the fourth and returned 40-34 scorecards, while Carter had it 40-35.
The Big Challenge
August 21, 2010
HEAVYWEIGHTS: Tomasz Adamek, 217, Goral, Poland dec. Michael Grant, 261, Blue Bell, Pa. (12)
JUNIOR MIDDLEWEIGHTS:Joel Julio, 152, Monteria, Colombia dec. Jamaal Davis, 153, Philadelphia, Pa. (10)
WELTERWEIGHTS: Sadam Ali, 145, Brooklyn, NY KO’d Lenin Arroyo, 146, San Jose, Costa Rica (5)
JUNIOR WELTERS: Jeremy Bryan, 139, Paterson, NJ TKO’d Daniel Mitchell, 137, Pittsburgh, Pa. (1)
Osnel Charles, 137 ½, Atlantic City, N.J. dec. Hector Collado, 139 ½ , Union City, N.J. (4)
LIGHTWEIGHTS: Tyrone Luckey, 133, Middletown, N.J. TKO’d Larry Yanez, 135, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (1)
Shemuel Pagan, 135 ½, Brooklyn, N.Y. dec. Raul Rivera, 135 ½, Philadelphia, Pa. (4)