by Johnny Walker
Fans of heavyweight action are no doubt already aware that highly ranked contender Tomasz Adamek will be squaring off with tough American challenger Travis Walker on the afternoon of September 8 at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ — the popular Polish warrior’s home away from home.
However, as promoters Main Events have constructed the undercard, the event has become somewhat of a showcase for heavyweight boxing in general, including some interesting bouts featuring a cruiserweight champion moving up, a relative newcomer trying to maintain momentum, and an Olympic champion trying to find his bearings.
Perhaps of the most interest is the move of former cruiserweight king Steve “USS” Cunningham (24-4, 12 KOs) up to heavyweight to fight durable American Jason Gavern (21-10-4, 10 KOs).
The muscular Cunningham has of late had some trouble taking cruiserweight punches — he has hit the canvas in each of his last two fights against Yoan Pablo Hernandez. So the scrappy heavyweight Gavern–who drew with contender Johnathon Banks in 2010 and who last time out stayed even with Russian giant Alexander Ustinov for six rounds before losing in the seventh–has got to figure this is a golden chance to make his mark, as a defeat of Cunningham would mean more press attention and more lucrative fights in the future.
If Cunningham takes Gavern for granted at all, this one could end in an upset.
Also on the undercard is rising heavyweight Bryant “By By” Jennings (14-0-0), who takes on Chris Koval (25-9-0, 18 KOs).
Philadelphia’s Jennings, who has quickly become a mainstay on Main Events cards, was on a roll when he impressively stopped former WBO world champion Sergei Liakhovich back in March. However, in his last outing, Jennings looked less than spectacular during a workmanlike unanimous decision win over Texan Steve Collins in a fight that seemed to this writer to be much closer than the judges’ final tallies indicated. Jennings will be looking to get people talking about him again with a big knockout win.
Last but not least is Odlanier “La Sombra” Solis (18-1-0, 12 KOs), the former Olympic boxing champion who was blown out in one round by WBC champion Vitali Klitschko in 2011, taking on Willie Herring (14-11-3, 5 KOs). The (to put it mildly) often underconditioned Solis, who blew out a knee in that loss to Klitschko, seems to have learned little from the experience. He returned against Konstantin Airich this May weighing a fat 267 pounds (on a 6’1″ frame), surely putting even more stress on his weakened joints during a less than impressive unaninmous decision win that left even his hyperbolic manager Ahmet Oner unhappy.
Perhaps more than any other heavyweight currently operating, Solis has a core of followers who believe he is the next big thing at heavyweight, even though the evidence for that so far is scant (never has so much been made out of one round of boxing as Solis’s fans still make out of his round against Klitschko). Suffice it to say that if Solis is going to fulfill the expectations of his fans by getting in shape and looking more like the Olympic champion of old, September 8 in Newark would be a good place to start.