This sight crushed Steve Cunningham, who was certain he beat Tomasz Adamek on Dec. 22. The judges said otherwise. How did you score the fighter, readers?
Boxing, theater of the unexpected. Except in the realm of bad decisions. Then…expected.
The sport suffered another black eye, howled many if not most folks who watched the Steve Cunningham-Tomasz Adamek fight Saturday, a bout which served as the return of the sweet science to NBC. The heavyweights tussled in Pennsylvania, on a card promoted by Main Events, and Adamek had his hand raised after 12 rounds. Judges Debra Barnes (115-112) and Tom Greer (116-112) liked the work of the Pole, apparently rewarding him for trying to land more power punches than Cunningham, who used a jab to keep the Pole at bay and moved smartly to stay out of trouble. Judge Tom Miller liked the Philly fighter’s work, and scored it for him 115-113.
Announcer Michael Buffer initially called the fight a split draw—and you could sense that the fans weren’t thrilled but weren’t hating on a tie-- but he was alerted after doing so that Barnes’ card had been mis-tallied. He got back on the mike, said that Barnes scored it 115-112, Adamek. Buffer amended his call, and announced Adamek as the victor. The card was again scanned, and it was later revealed that Barnes had it 115-113 for the Pole.
The same scrappers had clashed in 2008, when both were cruiserweights, with Adamek snagging a UD12 on that occasion. Since then, he jetted to the heavyweight division for more moolah, and Cunningham finally followed suit this year. Both are 36 years old.
Spewing of disgust and dismay on the Twittersphere ensued. Robbery, they cried. Investigation, they called for. I watched the bout in my sister’s living room in Potomac, Maryland, with my dad, who likely hasn’t watched boxing on TV since Ali reigned, and his sis, who likes boxing but isn’t inclined to hunt through a haystack for a scrap on a pay-cable channel an hour after she typically goes to bed, and her hubby. None of them saw a robbery, as most of us agreed that Adamek in the early rounds did some good work, and in many if not most of the rounds, landed one or two of the most showy power shots in the frame. I noted, as we watched, and weighed in as semi-expert commentator for the crew, that judges oftentimes don’t reward the counterpuncher, or the guy who spends much of the fight backing up. Judges these days may not be skilled enough to reward such subtlety, I noted.
There were no knockdowns, unlike the first tussle, when Cunningham went down three times, and Cunningham, according to Compubox, outlanded Adamek, 209-169. But Adamek landed more power punches, 120, than did Cunningham, who landed 80, and threw 267 to Cunningham’s 167. Output was similar, with Cunningham boasting a slight edge, 561-513.
Adamek will likely face Kubrat Pulev next, with the winner to meet Wladimir Klitschko. There is no market, really, for Adamek to meet any Klitschko, seeing as how he got chopped up when he fought Vitali in September 2010, and was stopped in the tenth of a one-sided “fight.”
I’d say the right thing to do would be to put off that eliminator, and book Adamek-Cunningham three, in early March or so. Perhaps in another jurisdiction, where math isn’t so challenging, and in front of more seasoned judges.