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Cunningham vs. Adamek:

The Tradition of Great Cruiserweight Rematches Must Continue

 

By Jake Emen - 2nd January 2008

Boxing Equipment 24/7

 

The recent bout between Steve Cunningham and Tomasz Adamek was one of those special boxing moments when everything seems to come together perfectly. Two exciting, gutsy and well-matched warriors with opposing styles put it all on the line not just for the title but also for the fans and really for the entire sport.

The two men may have been fighting in New Jersey, close to Cunningham's roots in Philadelphia, but for all intents and purposes the fight may as well have taken place in Warsaw or Krakow, the Polish fans of Tomasz "Goral" Adamek dominating the excited crowd. Cunningham, who spent the previous several years of his career on the road, traversing Europe for a chance at big fights and a fair shot (he was largely viewed as being robbed of the title in his only other previous loss, to Krzysztof Wlodarczyk), would not be deterred by an unfriendly and hostile arena.

Rather, this was his chance to hit the big time, "U.S.S." was finally back in the U.S., live on American TV, defending his title. The slick boxer could have played it safe, circling the ring and doubling or tripling up on a quick jab to keep the hard charging Adamek at a distance. But that would be the easy way out. Cunningham knew this was his shot, and he came out swinging. The strategy ultimately cost him his title, but in the process may have secured for himself better opportunities in the future, awakening the public not just to his own potential and ability, but to that of the overlooked but talent rich cruiserweight division. If only he could get a shot at a redemption with a rematch.

This wasn't the first time two great cruiserweights put on a memorable, fast paced and ferocious pugilistic battle. In the brief history of the division, there has been a legacy of great fights. And indeed, the best cruiserweight fights of all time were often followed with a rematch.

Evander Holyfield, still toiling away in the heavyweight ranks today, helped to put the cruiserweight division on the map with his two wars with Dwight Muhammad Qawi over twenty years ago. The first match was a barn burning classic that pitted the still relatively green Holyfield against the tough nosed former light heavyweight champ, formerly known as Dwight Braxton. Holyfield escaped with a split decision victory, bringing home the title in just his 11th pro fight. When they met a year and a half later, Holyfield with another five fights of experience and Qawi that much more aged, Holyfield dismantled his foe in just a few devastating rounds.

Just several years ago, O'Neil Bell and Jean Marc Mormeck partook in their own series of grueling struggles. Ringing in the New Year as only boxing could, the two first met in January of 2006 in a unification bout. The hulking Mormeck seemed to be battering Bell, although both men were dishing out punishment. Ultimately Bell was able to come back from the brink to finish Mormeck in the 10th round. A year later, Mormeck exacted his revenge, winning a unanimous decision on his home turf in France.

Outside of the cruiserweight division, some of the most exciting fights in recent years have been rematches and epic trilogies that have brought attention to once overlooked divisions. Israel Vazquez and Rafael Marquez have made the 122 lb super bantamweight division a premium destination. Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera brought attention to the featherweight ranks, as has Manny Pacquiao in his battles with both men, as well as his two fights with Juan Manuel Marquez.

There's no guarantee that a rematch of a great fight will produce the same fireworks as the first match. But some fighters are destined to bring out the best of their opponent. And when two contrasting styles, possessed by men with such heart and grit as Adamek and Cunningham, meet each other in the ring there could be little chance for disappointment.

It's time now to continue on with the tradition of epic cruiserweight rematches, and as fans and followers of the sport of boxing it's something we must clamor for. After all, boxing fans have a greater power than fans of any other sport. Detroit Lions fans can boycott games, but their schedule won't be made any easier or tougher next year as a result. But with boxing, our dollars directly lining the pockets of promoters, matchmakers and sanctioning bodies that can pick and choose which fights to create, we can have a direct impact on choosing what we want to see.

If the boxing public demands that a fight be made, all of those eyes equaling all of those dollars, it's something that cannot be ignored. Steve Cunningham and Tomasz Adamek thrilled us with their first encounter, another glorious night forever etched into our memories. Now let's return the favor to them by demanding a rematch. For them, a big payday and another shot at boxing immortality await. And for us? Well, we get to do what boxing fans do best; take in a great fight and keep it stored in our minds for years to come, eager to share with anybody who wasn't fortunate enough to see it for themselves.

 

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