Q&A: Tomasz Adamek - Cunningham vs Adamek on Thursday
by Michal Koper, Tomasz S. Galazka / bokser.org - On December 11, in Newark, former WBC light heavyweight titlist Tomasz Adamek (photo by tomaszadamek.eu), 35-1, 24 KO, will step into the ring to face the IBF cruiserweight champion Steve Cunningham (21-1, 11 KO). The Polish boxer has been preparing for this, the greatest challenge of his life so far, in the States – he moved there with his family in August and plans to remain in the US for a longer while..
Article posted on 09.12.2008
Here's the interview we obtained from Tomasz on Saturday.
Michal Koper: Tomek, you moved to the USA some months ago. How are you feeling about that?
Tomasz Adamek: This is not the first time in the States for me. I came here on extended stays prior to a number of my previous fights. All my business affairs are in good order. I feel right at home in America.
MK: How are your preparations for the Cunningham fight coming along?
TA: I am very well prepared. My trainer Andrzej Gmitruk says I'm even faster than I was before my last fight. And when I have the speed, everything works out OK. Soon I will demonstrate my abilities in the ring.
MK: Your crew was recently supplemented by Mike Skowronski. What is his job?
TA: Mike simply helps me out with training. Andrzej Gmitruk is my trainer, it's with him that I work during the training sessions - Andrzej really is like a father to me, he's been with me from the start of my career.
MK: During the preparations you had the chance to spar with Al Cole, a former world champ. Do you have anything to say about the training session with him?
TA: Al is a very experienced fighter. I was able to learn a lot from him. He sparred with the Klitschko brothers recently. As for me, I was a tad too fast for him.
MK: There are some rumors that the American observers were disappointed in how little you demonstrated during the training session that was open for the media...
TA: The ring will be the place to show my boxing skills. It's true, I only threw a few punches on a shield during the open training, but then, I didn't have to ride 60 miles for the show, like Cunningham did – I didn't have to worry that I'd lose a whole day in my training regimen. I simply hit the shield a few times and went for my regular training session. I will show my abilities to the full on December 11.
MK: How would you describe Steve Cunningham?
TA: Hard to say he has any downsides – he's the world champion, after all. He does not carry much of a punch, that's for sure. He has great style, he can clinch if need be. Still, we have a strategy worked out against him, which will let me outfox him in the ting and win the fight. Cunningham is a fine boxer, a world champ, but on Thursday I will demonstrate superior boxing and I will win, and take away the champ's belt.
MK: According to ‘The Ring’, Cunningham is #1 among the cruiserweights. If you win with him, you will achieve a major success in the annals of Polish boxing…
TA: I don't think about that, I'm focusing on the fight itself. I promised my fans some months ago that I will become the champion of the world – and that's what I aim for. We'll see what comes next…
MK: The American public remembers you from the Briggs fights as the boxer willing to trade punches, an aggressive one, a brawler type. Actually, especially now as a cruiserweight, you are a stylist, keeping distance from the opponent…
TA: I will fight my fight. I will utilize the things that brought me victories in the latest fights. But if there will come a war in the ring, I'm ready for an open exchange, because I'm not afraid of such a fight. It's true I prefer to out-fight, and I demonstrated in the Bell fight that after relatively non-stressful boxing I can still deck my opponent with a counterpunch.
MK: In your debut as a top-billed fighter on US TV you were defeated by Chad Dawson. Why did you lose that fight?
TA: On that day I was not myself. I got sick before the fight, I was in poor condition. Well, I lost, there's no undoing that.
MK: When did you realize it's time to move from light heavyweight up to cruiser? For how long did you have to struggle to keep the weight within limits?
TA: It was almost always that I had to drop a few kilos before a fight, but the older I got, the harder this was. This culminated with the Chad Dawson fight. Now, as a cruiserweight, I feel much better. I only have to lose about 6 pounds before a fight, to improve the speed, and it's no bother – not like it used to be.
MK: What's your current weight? There's only a few days left to the fight…
TA: 202 - 203 pounds. Weight's no problem anymore.
MK: Do you consider Cunningham to be the most dangerous opponent in your career?
TA: Hard to tell, as I hadn't faced him in the ring yet. O’Neil Bell certainly had the strongest punch, so he could be called the toughest up to now. The Dawson fight could end up in a whole different result, had I been on top of my game. Paul Briggs also hit hard, but Bell was the most dangerous. How will it be with Cunningham? We'll see. He's a stylist, I'll have to fight him in a different way.
MK: If you were to name your boxing idol, who would that be?
TA: I always liked Oscar De La Hoya's style. I also liked Evander Holyfield – he fought with style, but would enter an open exchange of blows, if need be.
MK: The ring announcers call you Tomasz ‘Góral’ [The Highlander] Adamek. What does that nick mean to you?
TA: I never thought about that much. Someone stuck that to my name simply because I come from the mountains. I always introduce myself simply as Tomasz Adamek. I don't need any nicknames. I'm Tomasz Adamek, plain and simple.
MK: Before the first Paul Briggs fight you went to the States and trained with Sam Colonna. You changed your style then. Your footwork improved, but you took plenty of punches. Then you returned to Andrzej Gmitruk and his style.
TA: European boxers are known for their technique. In addition, every fighter has his own individual style, his strong points. For years I've been training one thing with Andrzej, then I moved to the States with the change of coach I went for mid-range, where you have to absorb lots of punishment. And I don't like to take punches, I'd much rather deal them out myself. That's why we went back to what we'd successfully practiced with Andrzej - speed, defense, approach, punch… I feel better when fighting ‘the European way’.
MK: Any plans for your further career if you win against Cunningham?
TA: The Cunningham fight is the most important thing for now. We'll see what comes next. I don't think about that now.
Cunningham-Adamek Fight-Week Media Workout Quotes
NEWARK, N.J.—Boxers preparing for the International Boxing Federation world-championship doubleheader on Thursday at Prudential Center—the first title card in Newark in 60 years (VERSUS 8 p.m. ET/PT)—participated in a media workout today. IBF cruiserweight champion Steve “USS” Cunningham (21-1, 11 KOs), from Philadelphia, said his Polish-born opponent Tomasz Adamek shouldn’t place too much emphasis on the fact he was able to defeat former undisputed cruiserweight world champion O’Neil “Supernova” Bell in April.
“Tomasz Adamek didn’t beat O’Neil Bell. O’Neil Bell quit. If Adamek has a false sense of hope because of that win, he needs to know there’s no quit in me. I haven’t put in all this work and become world champion to go out on my stool. The only way I go out without my belt is if they carry me out.”
“I still live in the hood in Philadelphia as a world champion. I’m still trying to get out of the hood. That’s motivation enough for me to win right there.”
Former World Boxing Council light heavyweight champion Adamek (35-1, 24 KOs) Adamek, who did not participate in the today’s media workout, was reached by phone.
“I prefer to spend the last few days of training alone,” Adamek said. “I’ll see Cunningham on Thursday night. I expect this match to go the same way as the Bell fight where nothing surprised me and I was able to dictate the pace of the fight.”
The co-feature pits IBF bantamweight champion Joseph King Kong Agbeko (25-1, 22 KOs), from Accra, Ghana, against his mandatory challenger, IBF No. 1-ranked William “Chirizo” Gonzalez (21-2, 19 KOs), from Managua, Nicaragua.
“I saw Agbeko defeat Luis Perez to become champion but I didn’t see anything special in him,” Gonzalez, making his first world-title appearance, said. “I don’t think he’s special. I am very confident. This match is very important to me and my future, but I’m trying to not think of that right now, only about Agbeko and his championship. I will defeat him and win his belt.
When told of the challenger’s boasts, Agbeko was undaunted.
“I’m glad Gonzalez is confident,” Agbeko said. “He will need his confidence to stay in the ring with me. I know he’s 21 and 2, but he’s never been in the ring with King Kong.” <
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