The announcement by Tomasz Adamek's
camp that his first defense of the IBF
title will be against Johnathon Banks in
February 2008 has left former champ, Steve
'USS' Cunningham with a major dilemma. He
and his team have been campaigning for a
quick rematch of the December classic and
as such doesn't have an alternative fight
lined up for the near future.
Cunningham, who has been stating "My
top priority is the rematch with Adamek,
that's what I have been focusing on. I
want my title back more than anything
else", is aware though that if he is to
fight by April, as he had said is his
intention, he now needs to look to other
opponents. But what are his current
Below are the ten fighters rated
closest to Cunningham, the current world
number 1 rated cruiserweight, and Tomasz
Adamek, the current undisputed champion,
based on Ring Magazine and Boxrec ratings.
Poland - Current IBC Champion, Former IBF
Won 41 (KO31) Lost 2
Former IBF cruiserweight champion and
current IBC cruiserweight champion,
Wlodarczyk is due to fight Giacobbe
Fragomeni, the current WBC cruiserweight
champion, in Milan on the 27th March 2009.
'USS' Cunningham fought Wlodarczyk
twice, both times in Poland. The first was
in November 2006 for the vacant IBF
cruiserweight title. Wlodarczyk won the
fight to become the first Polish world
champion by a very dubious split decision.
The IBF ordered an immediate rematch which
took place in May 2007. In victory
Cunningham was vindicated and rightly
declared the IBF cruiserweight champion of
Since losing his title to Cunningham,
Wlodarczyk has fought four times. The
first, in October 2007, against Dominique
Alexander for the vacant International
Boxing Council cruiserweight title, was
over in just 2 minutes and 13 seconds of
the first round as Wlodarczyk knocked out
Alexander. The following three fights were
all non-championship matches which
Wlodarczyk won convincingly, two by TKO
and the final one against Gabor Gyuris by
knockout in just 1 minute and 56 seconds
of the first round.
Guillermo Jones, Panama
- Current WBA cruiserweight champion
Won 36 (KO 28) Lost 3 (KO1) Draw
Since winning the WBA cruiserweight
title by a 10th round TKO stoppage of
Firat Arslan in September 2008, Jones has
Cunningham and Jones had met previously
in April 2004 when they fought a
non-championship match. Cunningham won by
Since the Cunningham fight Jones has
fought five times. The most memorable
being when Jones took on Wayne Braithwaite
in a WBA Cruiserweight Title Eliminator
bout. Jones won by TKO in the fourth round
earning him the right to face Firat Arslan
and a shot at the world title.
O'Neil Bell, Jamaica -
Former WBC, WBA & IBF cruiserweight
Won 26 (KO 24) Lost 3 (KO 2) Draw
A champion's champion. Bell has held
most of the main titles in his illustrious
ten year career.
Bell was due to relaunch his career
this month as a heavyweight against
Domonic Jenkins but unexpectedly pulled
out of the bout without giving any reason.
Bell previously held the International
Boxing Federation (IBF) cruiserweight
title after defeating Canada's Dale Brown
on points in May 2005.
He went on to become undisputed
champion when he defeated Jean-Marc
Mormeck in January 2006, but lost a
controversial rematch with the Frenchman
in March 2007.
In April 2008 he lost the IBF
cruiserweight title eliminator, against
Tomasz Adamek, when he chose not to
continue after the eighth round.
Firat Arslan, Germany -
Former WBA champion
Won 29 (KO 18) Lost 4 (KO 1) Draw
In November 2007 Arslan became WBA
cruiserweight champion when he beat Virgil
Hill. He defended his crown twice. The
first in May 2008 against Darnell Wilson.
Arslan won this fight convincingly with
all judges scoring the fight 117-111 in
In September 2008 Aslan defended his
title against Guillermo Jones in Hamburg,
Germany. Jones won this bout by stopping
Arslan in the tenth round.
Enzo Maccarinelli, Wales
- Former WBU & WBO champion
Won 29 (KO 22) Lost 2 (KO 2)
Great Britain's number one
cruiserweight boxer since David Haye moved
to heavyweight in November 2008.
Maccarinelli was due to fight Johnathon
Banks at the M.E.N. Arena in Manchester
for the vacant WBO title in March 2009.
However it was recently announced that
Banks is to fight Tomasz Adamek in
February for the IBF title instead.
Maccarinelli won the WBU in June 2003
when he stopped Bruce Scott in the fourth
round. He successfully defended the title
seven times in three years.
In July 2006 Maccarinelli beat Marcelo
Fabian Dominguez to become interim WBO
cruiserweight champion. Three months later
in October 2006 he beat Mark Hobson to
become WBO cruiserweight champion.
He defended his WBO crown four times,
three times successfully against Bobby
Gunn in April 2007, Wayne Braithwaite in
July 2007 and Mohamed Azzaoui in November
In March 2008 Maccarinelli took on
world number one David Haye, in a
unification title battle for the WBA, WBC
& WBO cruiserweight titles, at the O2
Arena in London. The fight didn't last
long at all, Haye became the undisputed
cruiserweight champion by stopping
Maccarinelli in the second round and
promptly announced he was to fight as
heavyweight claiming he had beat everyone
that was anyone in cruiserweight.
IBF champion, Steve 'USS' Cunningham,
was less than pleased with Haye's comments
as he hadn't fought him, in fact Haye had
avoided a fight with the then number two
ranked cruiserweight 'USS' Cunningham more
Maccarinelli was due to fight Johnathon
Banks for the vacant WBO title in December
2008 but Banks pulled out with an ankle
injury. Maccarinelli instead fought
heavyweight Mathew Ellis. Maccarinelli
stopped Ellis in 1 minute and 28 seconds
of the second round.
Marco Huck, Yugoslavia -
IBF Inter-continental & EBU European
Won 23 (KO 18) Lost 1 (KO 1)
Huck defends his EBU European
cruiserweight title against Geoffrey
Batello from Belgium on the 24th January
Huck was Cunningham's first title
challenger when they met in December 2007.
A thrilling all action battle ensued, in
front of a partisan German crowd, which
saw Cunningham retaining his crown by
stopping Huck in the final minute of the
Since losing to Cunningham, Huck has
gone on to win five fights, all by TKO. In
May 2008 Huck beat Frantisek Kasanic to
win the vacant IBF inter-continental
title. In September 2008 went on to claim
the EBU European cruiserweight title by
beating Jean Marc Monrose. Just one month
later in October 2008 Huck successfully
defended his EBU title against Fabio
Vadim Tokarev, Russia -
Former IBF Inter-continental champion
Won 26 (KO 19) Lost 1 (KO 0) Draw
The hard punching former IBF
Inter-continental cruiserweight champion's
only loss came against Marco Huck in May
2007 when they fought in Germany for the
IBF Cruiserweight Title Eliminator for the
right to face Steve 'USS' Cunningham.
Since that single loss Tokarev has won
all three of his fights, against Marlon
Hayes, Chris Thomas and Manu Ntoh, by TKO.
Italy - Current WBC Cruiserweight
Won 26 (KO 10) Lost 1 (KO 1)
Current WBC champion, Fragomeni defends
his title against former IBF and current
IBC cruiserweight champion, Krzysztof
Wlodarczyk of Poland, on the 27th March
2009 in Milan, Italy.
Fragomeni's only loss came at the hands
of the former undisputed cruiserweight
champion, David Haye, in November 2006
when they fought for the EBU European
cruiserweight title. The title went to
Haye with a 9th round TKO.
Since that loss Fragomeni has fought
five times. The first a non-championship
fight lasted just 4 rounds as Fragomeni
knocked out Adrian Rajkai.
Fragomeni's next fought in July 2007
for the vacant EBU European Union title
against Vincenzo Rossitto which he won by
unanimous decision. His first defense of
the title was in December 2007 against
Rachid El Hadak, Fragomeni won by majority
decision. He was victorious in his second
defense against Konstantin Semerdjiev in
In October 2008 Fragomeni competed for
the vacant WBC cruiserweight world title
against Rudolf Kraj. The fight was stopped
in the 8th round due to a cut over
Fragomeni's eye sustained in the previous
round from an illegal headbutt. Fragomeni
was leading 77-74 on all three judges'
cards and was declared the champion.
B. J. Flores, America -
IBA, NBA & WBF super cruiserweight
Won 21 (KO 13) Lost 0 Draw 1
Flores was originally announced as
Tomasz Adamek's challenger for his first
IBF cruiserweight title defense in
February 2009. However Flores announced
that he had decided to fight a
non-championship bout against Elvin Ayala
in January instead.
Unbeaten in twenty two outings, rated
by boxrec as USA's number two and the
world number five cruiserweight, Flores
has amassed various minor titles over the
past 2 years.
Matt Godfrey, America - NABF
Won 18 (KO 10) Lost 1
Rated by boxrec as USA's number three
and world number seven cruiserweight.
Godfrey, like Flores, has amassed various
minor titles over the past few years
including NABA, WBC Continental Americas,
WBC USNBC and the NABF cruiserweight
However, unlike Flores, Godfrey has
stepped up and fought a world
cruiserweight title eliminator (WBC) when
he faced Rudolf Kraj in March 2008. He
lost, but only by a close decision and he
was in Kraj's back yard.
There are some seriously appealing
possibilities listed above but without
doubt the most mouth watering, outside the
rematch with Adamek, for fans is if
Maccarinelli was to face Cunningham on
March 14th. This would be a seriously
entertaining all-action bout, one that
could even surpass the classic that was
Cunningham-Adamek. What's more this fight
can happen soon as Maccarinelli's
promoter, Frank Warren, already has a date
and venue but no opponent for his charge.
Sports Network, Warren's promotional
company is already working with Don King
Productions, Cunningham's promoter, on
this event as Amir Khan is to face
multi-weight champion Marco Antonio
Barrera. It should be fairly easy for them
to put a deal together especially as this
bout would attract serious additional
interest from the television networks and
boxing aficionados on both sides of the
If this fight was to be made one thing
is clear, the winner would be...