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The Fight of the Year!

And You Could Have Watched it for Free

 

By Alex Ginebra

Boxeo Mundial Magazine

 

I walked into the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ, to see the IBF Bantamweight and Cruiserweight Championship fights, without any expectations of seeing a great fight or an inspiring atmosphere. Even though I was about to see the first championship boxing event held in Newark since 1948, I was not expecting anything spectacular or historic. And with all the struggles that the sport of boxing has endured over the past 15 years, how could I not be so pessimistic? The sport is dying in the eyes of the casual fan. Many have defected to the ever-growing world of mixed-martial arts. Even the most passionate boxing enthusiast, and even the boxers themselves, are very concerned about the future of their beloved sport. But in the right circumstances, often when you least expect it, boxing can still pack a major punch!

This event was not on pay-per-view or HBO. Boxing fans did not have to shell out extra money to watch the fight on television. Instead they were allowed to watch two championship fights on a regular cable channel, the Versus Network. Don King Productions co-promoted the event with the New Jersey-based promotion company Main Events. So I thought to myself, "If Don King shows his face tonight, maybe something entertaining would happen after all."

The first championship bout on the bill was the IFC Bantamweight Championship between the incumbent champ Joseph Agbeko, from Ghana, and the number one challenger William Gonzalez, a southpaw from Nicaragua. The two men displayed 12 rounds of speed and tactics that make smaller-weight fights so exciting. It was one of the closest battles I had ever seen, and the judges agreed with me, as one judge scored the fight even while the other two gave a narrow victory to Agbeko, as he retained his belt.

After that 12-round decision, next up were the "big boys." The IBF Cruiserweight Championship was to be fought between incumbent champ Steve "U.S.S." Cunningham, from Philadelphia, and the number one challenger Tomasz Adamek, who represented his native Poland. Cunningham and Adamek reminded everyone in the arena why bouts between the "big boys" can be so thrilling to watch. Both fighters provided a genuine two-way slugfest. While Adamek displayed a "brass chin," Cunningham struggled with his foot-work and suffered three knockdowns as he lost his legs beneath the punishment of Adamek's hard blows. This would prove to be the difference, as the fight reach a climactic 12-round decision. One judge sided with Cunningham, probably due to the fact that he scored a higher percentage of landed punches, but the other two judges gave the fight to the resilient Adamek, and thus gave him the Cruiserweight Championship Belt.

Versus boasted that the Adamek-Cunningham battle was the "fight of the year," and very few writers in the room disputed this claim. Of the top-of-my-head only the July fight between Margarito and Cotto could compare when it comes to the excitement generated by aggressive hard-hitting action. After the disappointing bout between De La Hoya and Pacquaio, on HBO Pay-Per-View, less than a week prior, Versus swooped in and delivered a "diamond-in-the-rough" for the casual fan flipping through cable channels that night. All the writers and promoters were clamoring for a re-match. Cunningham and Adamek both hoped, behind the podium, that this fight would be great for boxing. From what I witnessed that night, I cannot argue that it was anything less than that.

 

Alex Ginebra

Sportswriter/Product Manager for Boxeo Mundial

Alex's passion for the sport of boxing began at the age of eight when he attended a youth program at the Downtown Athletic Club. There he was fitted for the first time with boxing gloves and put into the ring to spar with other members. He was given the nickname "Mad Dog" by his boxing instructor and went on to win the medal for Youth Boxer of the Year. Eventually Mad Dog's boxing career did not extend very far beyond the DACC, but his love for the sport never waned. He went on to pursue his studies at Syracuse University and Monmouth University, and helped cover both sports programs for the school newspapers. He ended up pursuing careers in acting, music and business, but always kept the door open to the field of sports journalism. He ended up finding a great opportunity when he joined the marketing staff at the Mundial Group. The Mundial Group, publishers of Fútbol Mundial, Béisbol Mundial, and Boxeo Mundial, boasts the largest circulation of Spanish-language sports magazines in the United States.

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