As mind boggling as it may seem for a fighter that’s amassed a career record of 40-1 (27), Tomasz ‘Goral’ Adamek is still in search of the respect that’s eluded him. Since moving up to the Heavyweight division late last year, the former Light heavyweight and Cruiserweight world champion has been given little chance by “experts” at ever becoming a major player in Klitschko-ville. Many just couldn’t envision a scenario where his hybrid boxer-puncher style, tendency to exchange, and occasional defensive lapses, would carry the 6’1”, 217 lb. Pole to success in a weight class where most of the top fighters would, presumably, be much bigger and stronger than he.
Apparently, wins over Andrew Golota and Jason Estrada in his first two bouts above the 200 lb. mark have done nothing to brighten these outlooks or inspire much hope.
If you’ve had your ear to the street, or the gym, for the past few weeks, you’d know that Adamek will be traveling into hostile territory for a crack at heavily hyped Chris ‘The Nightmare’ Arreola, 28-1 (25) this Saturday night at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, CA.
The fight figures to be Adamek’s stiffest test to date, and though he’s never been stopped, the majority of boxing fans and media are predicting another early knockout victory for the powerful Arreola.
Cristobal Arreola, backed by Dan Goossen’s Goossen-Tutor Promotions and pushed by cable giant HBO, loves to fight. ‘The Nightmare,’ has openly stated that he prefers to mix it up, and likes to get hit to get himself going. In his only career loss, a 10th round stoppage at the hands of Vitali Klitschko, he proved his mettle by not quitting even though he trailed big on all scorecards.
In that fight, Arreola continued to come at his superior foe, even as his face morphed into a crimson mask of blood, sweat, and raw skin, until his corner eventually decided to stop the fight. Afterward, an emotional Arreola vowed to train harder and be back in the ring quickly and better than ever.
By returning to fight an outgunned Brian Minto less than two and a half months later, Chris accomplished one of those three goals.
Notorious for his lack of discipline outside of the ring and weight issues, Arreola came into the fight weighing a career-high 263 lbs. It was 12 lbs. heavier than he’d been when he lost to Klitschko, and he was noticeably sloppier in appearance and form. Though he’d stop Minto in the fourth round, Chris was tagged on a few occasions in the fight and his performance didn’t live up to the high hopes his supporters had for him.
Meanwhile, Adamek’s been moving along and establishing himself not only as a premier fighter, but as a local favorite to the Polish community in NJ at the Prudential Center in downtown Newark. In every fight there, he’s sold thousands more tickets than the last, starting with his 2008 decision victory over former Cruiserweight champ, Steve Cunningham, and capped off by a crowd of 10,000+ last February to see him outpoint Jason Estrada.
“I think this fight would’ve been huge here, Tomasz can draw,” said Kathy Duva of Main Events who promotes Adamek, “But if we have to end up going to California, then we will.”
Adamek isn’t likely to be fazed by the venue or the homecourt advantage Arreola will enjoy. A fighter to the core, he prefers to let his fists do all the talking and isn’t concerned with the size disadvantage he’ll face.
“I will prove my worth in the ring,” he told reporters last week after a workout.
“There is no weight disadvantage to deal with, the real fighter will win.”
For his part, Chris Arreola says, “I have a lot to prove, not just for myself, but for other people who are working hard for my career to be where it’s at.”
Arreola believes the smaller Adamek will choose to box and use his feet more than usual for this fight.
“He is going to be a hit and run boxer. I am going to have to bring my boxing skills to the ring. I have had good strength and conditioning and I have been learning to move laterally. I want to showcase my skills and solidify everything that my trainer, Henry, and my strength and conditioning coach, Darryl (Hudson), have worked with me on.”
A win for Arreola puts him back in the mix of the Heavyweight picture, while an Adamek victory opens the door to new opportunities. Aside from his lone defeat in 2007, to Chad Dawson at light heavyweight, Adamek hasn’t had much national exposure. Frankly, he’s been in excellent fighter in a cruiserweight division devoid of any big names or interest from the networks, something that factored into his decision to try his luck at heavyweight.
Adamek may also have more at stake this Saturday night. Regardless of the outcome of the fight, Arreola will probably continue to get HBO’s push, deserved or not, as they search for the next American-born heavyweight champion to market in a division today dominated by the Klitschko’s (Ukraine) and David Haye (UK). For Adamek, a chance like this comes only so often and if you don’t take advantage of the opportunity, you’re not promised another one.
Both men are fully aware of the bouts implications and are saying the right things, but actions usually speak louder than words. Arreola, who promised to come into the fight weighing no more than the low 240’s, did shave 13 lbs. off of his last fighting weight but still checked in bigger than most would’ve liked him to, at 250 lbs.
Arreola’s weight has been fairly consistent in that range, but aside from being shut-out by Vitali, he hasn’t been in with a fighter the caliber of Adamek. There’s a very real possibility that Arreola not preparing for fights as hard as he should, may finally catch up with him.