By JOHNNY WALKER
Three heavyweights who have made an impact on the consciousness of American boxing fans will be gracing the upcoming Main Events boxing card at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey on April 9.
Tomasz Adamek, Sergei Liakhovich, and Kevin McBride are at vastly different places in their boxing careers, but each needs a win in their upcoming bouts very badly.
For Adamek, a win against Kevin McBride is a ticket to his long-dreamed of fight with a Klitschko-to-be-named-later (likely Vitali) in Poland this fall. Adamek, a former cruiserweight king, has gotten mixed reviews since he moved to heavyweight, looking vulnerable at times to the likes of Jason Estrada, Cristobal Arreola, and Michael Grant, all of whom the tough-as-nails Pole nevertheless defeated.
Grant, especially, had Adamek reeling and hanging on in the last round of their tougher-than-expected bout, which was supposed to be a dry run against a K-Bro sized opponent (Grant is 6’7”). Since then the Pole, who now fights out of New Jersey, used his superior speed to blitz game journeyman Vinny Maddalone with a fifth-round TKO. Anything less impressive against the hulking Irishman McBride and the negativity that so many boxing fans love to wallow in will be turned up full blast regarding Adamek’s chances versus either Wlad or Vitali Klitschko.
Sergei Liakhovich made his name with boxing fans for this exhilarating win over WBO heavyweight champion Lamon Brewster in 2006, in what is generally regarded as one of the best heavyweight scraps of the last 10 years. Since that time, however, it has been a roller-coaster ride for Liakhovich with more downs than ups.
Liakhovich was winning his first title defense against a nearly immobile Shannon Briggs later in 2006, only to make the fateful decision to engage the behemoth Brooklynite in the final round, getting knocked out with one second left in the fight. A loss to Russian giant Nikolai Valuev sent Liakhovich reeling further, but the native of Belarus has since rebounded with a couple of wins over less than marquee names.
Plagued by inactivity under previous promoter Don King, Liakhovich now goes up against Johnnie White (22-4, 18 KOs) in his first fight for Main Event, and needs a big win to impress the fans and help regain the momentum he gained and then quickly lost in 2006. Luckily for Liakhovich, a couple of stellar performances in today’s heavyweight division can land you a title shot, so there is plenty on the line for Sergei as he steps into the ring on April 9.
Last but not least comes the aforementioned Kevin McBride, best known as the guy who handed Iron Mike Tyson his final loss before Tyson called it a career. Since then, McBride has done little except become a kind of cultural reference point. McBride did score a win over Franklin Egobi in the quarter-finals of Britain’s “Prizefighter” competition late last year, but it’s hard to escape the feeling that his presence here is strictly for Adamek to get in some more practice against a Klitschko-sized (6’6”, 280+), but not Klitschko-skilled, opponent.
Kevin McBride will need a greater upset than the one he pulled off against a badly faded and disinterested Mike Tyson if he is to beat a Tomasz Adamek who is in his prime, who is fighting in front of his ardent Polish fan base in New Jersey, and who has a career payday riding on this fight.