By Johnny Walker, reporting from Newark, NJ
A raucous, pro-Polish crowd at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey on Saturday night was already in a frenzy, due to a KO win by Warsaw light heavyweight Andrzej Fonfara on the undercard, when Tomasz Adamek made his way to the ring to take on the massive Irishman Kevin McBride. Press row was also buzzing with the news that American middleweight prospect James Kirkland, whose imminent stardom had been proclaimed by some major boxing writers this past week, had just been blown away in a first round KO upset in Las Vegas.
Could another upset possibly in the making here?
Adamek had much riding on this fight – namely the payday of his boxing career in a fall extravaganza with WBA heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko, who he was set to meet for the title in his native Poland. Only McBride, the final vanquisher of Iron Mike Tyson who was longing to once again be more than a bridesmaid on this night, could put a stop to those plans.
“A-Da-Mek, A-Da-MeK,” the crowd, a sea of Polish red and white, chanted in anticipation of their hero entering the ring.
McBride may be a giant of a man, at 6’6” and 285 pounds, but Adamek was a gigantic favorite.
Clad in an Irish green robe, McBride was booed lustily as he entered the ring. More chants of “A-Da-Mek, A-Da-Mek” followed as the Pole was shown warming up on the big screen, finally making his way to the ring. If boxing is dead, you sure wouldn’t have known it if you were in the packed Prudential Center tonight.
What transpired in the squared circle, however, often took the wind out of the crowd’s sails. The bout, while not uninteresting, was a circular, repetitious affair that found McBride awkwardly stalking Adamek, and the Pole responding with movement and speedy flurries to the Irishman’s ample gut and large head, though in truth McBride succeeded in picking off many of the latter offerings with his gloves.
The upset vibe that was in the air because of Kirkland got a bit of a jolt when McBride seemingly floored Adamek with a body shot at the very end of round two, but the incident wasn’t ruled a knockdown.
Round seven was one of Adamek’s best, as he upped the tempo, and landed a solid right hand that cut McBride’s left eye.
Both men began tiring after that, although in round ten, Adamek again landed a hard right that wobbled McBride, but the Polish superstar was then too tired to follow it up and McBride escaped.
Although the crowd sagged at times along with the tiring fighters, they went wild once again in the final round, and Adamek tried his best to showboat for them with some showy windmills. For heavy underdog McBride, however, making it until the final bell was a form of victory in itself.
The final scores were no surprise: Adamek shut out the Irishman on the scorecards, 120-107, and 119-108 twice.
In the post-fight press conference, Adamek couldn’t totally hide his disappointment with the fight as he nevertheless insisted that his inability to stop big fighters like McBride and Michael Grant doesn’t mean he lacks power: “speed is power,” he said.
But The Pole’s next opponent, Vitali Klitschko, another big fighter who is talent-wise leagues beyond the competition Adamek has been facing, might well reply, “No, power is power. And I have plenty of it.”
Next stop, Poland!