Heavyweights Make A Statement At The Iron Bound Throwdown

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    A sleeping giant was awoken yesterday. Or should I say sleeping giants were awoken as 2 top Heavyweights and a new comer to the class put on a show at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.

    Tomasz Adamek defended his IBF North American Heavyweight title against Travis Walker in a thriller. The 1st round was a feel out round. Adamek was trying to establish his jab and set the pace for the fight. Not much happened in the round but Adamek was slightly more active and landed cleaner to win the round.

    The 2nd will definitely be a round of the year candidate. Early in the round it appeared Adamek was in control until a crushing right hand from Walker sent him flying to the canvas. When Tomasz rose back to his feet Walker saw how hurt he was and went into full on attack mode throwing everything in the book. Adamek weathered the storm and put on a rally himself. Instead of holding he let his hands go and landed a right hand of his own that dropped Walker with about: 30 left in the round. Walker beat the count; Adamek landed a few more heavy shots to put Walker in the corner. The bell sounded but for a good :10 they kept going at it.

    When Walker had Adamek hurt in my opinion he punched himself out. I’m not sure if he sensed it but Adamek continued to push the action the rest of the fight. He used his jab nicely and followed up with solid right hands. His right was landing both behind his jab and leading. He would shoot in land what he needed to then pull back out, keeping the fight at the distance he wanted.

    Early in the 5th another right hand landed for Adamek that staggered Walker. He forced Travis to the corner and went to work. After a serious flurry referee Ed Cotton stepped in to stop the fight. The official stoppage time was 1:08 into the 5th round. “That was a very tough fight yes, but people love this kind of fight,” Adamek said. Speaking on the knockdown Adamek stated, “God gave me power to wake up. I stood up and went to work, I’m a warrior, I’m not chicken.”

    In defeat Walker spoke honestly about his performance. He gave his praise to Adamek for being a great fighter and pointed out why his downfall came, “I’m kind of known for getting excited after I hurt somebody. I really got too excited. My punches weren’t crisp after I hurt him and even though I was still hitting him with good shots they weren’t crisp. I’m just known for getting excited. I was right there. I’ve been waiting for that moment my whole career, I was right there and I guess I saw a big future.”

    In winning Adamek not only defended his title but the fight was an IBF eliminator for the #2 rank. He improved his record to 47-2 29KO’s and possibly a fight with IBF champ Wladimir Klitschko is in the near future. Travis Walker fell to a record of 39-8-1 31KO’s.

    The first of the Heavyweight action on the card was quick work for Bryant “By-By” Jennings. Chris Koval didn’t stand a chance against the younger and far more talented Jennings. He entered the ring with his body looking sloppy and it was only a premonition of what was to come.

    I would guess that Jennings broke a bigger sweat warming up in the locker room then he did in the ring. When the opening bell rang he came out calm and patient. Placed a few straights to the body and before you can blink a right hand dropped Koval. He beat the count just to take another bomb from Jennings and go back down. Referee David Franciosi stopped the fight :35 into the 1st round. Jennings know touts a record of 15-0 7KO’s. While in defeat Koval is now 25-10 18KO’s including being knocked out 6 out of his last 8 fights.

    When asked if he was expecting more of Koval, Jennings exclaimed, “I expected a fight that was a little more, that would have gave me something to show. I came prepared; you know that’s what happens when you come prepared.” Jennings knew Koval couldn’t handle his power and it was time for him to go “By-By” after the first knockdown. “The first one was a punch that I very seldom throw that I know would have got the knockout. But a lot of times I hold back on it because I like it to land flush. When I first seen him come out, his hands were down low and I’m thinking wow you come out with your hands low, are you kidding me? You’re going to get this punch right off the bat,” Jennings said. As he stated in an interview with me a few weeks ago Jennings is anxious to stay active and has hopes to get on a Sept. 21st card especially after such quick work. “Oh yeah I’m pushing for that. I just got off the phone with Russell Peltz just a moment ago, I’m pushing for it.”

    Also on the card was Steve Cunningham making his Heavyweight debut against Jason Gavern. Though he’s a solid opponent, Gavern proved to be no match for Cunningham and that was evident right from the start of the fight.

    Cunningham was able to work his jab the entire fight. He doubled up and at times tripled up on his jab to depict the pace and distance the bout would be fought at. He had a huge advantage in speed, athleticism and footwork over his opponent. He kept busier in every round not just with his jab but mixing in head and body shots on top of combinations.

    As the rounds went by Cunningham looked better and better. He showed great ring generalship never putting himself in a position to catch the bigger man Gavern’s power shots. Even when Gavern did land Cunningham absorbed the punches well, “It felt good. Jason’s not a big puncher or anything, but he’s still a 239lb man. I took a couple good right hands from him but we keep going. If we’re not down, not out, we keep fighting,” Cunningham proclaimed.

    To start the 8th Gavern came out with a sense of urgency, opening up and throwing more. Steve stayed inside his punches landing straight rights behind his jab. In the 9th and 10th round Gavern looked completely gassed. Cunningham stalked him and landed whatever he wanted. If he was a heavier puncher I strongly believe he would have put Gavern away. He remained technically sound a continued his dominance until the final bell. On my card I had Cunningham winning a clean sweep, 100-90. Judges John McKaie and Henry Grant also scored it 100-90 while Emil Conforti saw the fight 99-91 all in favor of Cunningham as he moved to 25-4 12KO’s. Gavern left the fight with a record of 21-11-4 10KO’s.

    The move up to Heavyweight so far appears to be a smart one. Fighting at his heaviest weight to date didn’t seem to be an issue for Cunningham as he pronounced, “I felt comfortable. We’ve been putting this weight on, it’s about 9-10 pounds because I was a small Cruiserweight. We would leave the gym about 196 but now I’m coming in at 207. I’ve been coming into the gym at about 206 207 for the past month and we’ve been working with it. I’ve been working with Chazz Witherspoon and bigger guys so I’ve been comfortable with the weight.”

    There wasn’t much that wasn’t clicking for the former U.S. Naval man Cunningham. Even in dominant fashion he remained humble and thought he could have even been sharper. “I’m my worst critic so there’s always something I thought I could’ve done more of. The main thing I did do tonight, that I wanted to do personally was show my composure and keep working. It was 10 rounds with a guy that was 239lbs and I think I held my own pretty well,” Cunningham added.

    I caught up with Cunningham’s future hall of fame trainer Nazim Richardson afterwards. When speaking on Steve’s performance dealing with a much bigger opponent Nazim stated, “30lbs is a lot. I know because when I’m in the ring with Steve, and I can’t fight near his caliber, I’m so big that I can grab him and throw him around at times because of my size and size does matter in these kinds of scenarios. But if he stays smart and disciplined he proved he can neutralize it.”

    Speaking of Nazim Richardson, another of his pupils was on display on the undercard. “Dynamite” Karl Dargan was indeed just that in his bout against Jesse Carradine. He showed very little ring rust after a year layoff and upped his record to 11-0 6KO’s by scoring a TKO 1:04 into the 4th round. “I can say I’m satisfied because I got the victory, but I’m still not 100%. I can say in the ring I felt about 75% but I went I there and got the job done,” Dargan stated.

    Nazim was also pleased with how Dargan handled his opponent yesterday and is expecting big things for Karl, and soon. “Based on that performance any promoter who watched that fight is going to want him fighting again. If he can fight like that on a layoff you’ve got to see what he can do if he keeps busy. He’s one of the special young guys,” Richardson replied.

    Kathy Duva Main Events, Peltz Boxing and Ziggy promotions have to be more than satisfied with the event they put together yesterday. If this was a glimpse of what’s to come in the Heavyweight ranks a resurrection of the division seems near. Bryant Jennings summed up the comeback of his division by saying, “It’s looking good, if we get a couple more days like today we could be back. And it’s easy to make another day like this. With smart match making and top fighters who are willing to step in there with whoever we’ll have another day like this. We keep going that way and the Heavyweight division will be back.”

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