- Dan Rafael, Boxing
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Tomasz Adamek won a light heavyweight title in 2005. In 2008, he won the cruiserweight championship. And then the Polish star did what so many cruiserweights before him have done: He moved up to the heavyweight division looking for greater fame and fortune.
But that has not been easy for most of them. Only two cruiserweight champions have gone on to win a heavyweight title: Evander Holyfield and David Haye.
Adamek, a heavyweight since late 2009, has racked up a record of 5-0 with two knockouts in boxing's top division and hopes to eventually join their club.
He is one fight away from at least having the opportunity.
Adamek (43-1, 28 KOs) must turn back Kevin McBride (35-8-1, 29 KOs) -- the Ireland native living in Brockton, Mass., who is known for knocking out Mike Tyson in 2005 and sending him into retirement -- when they meet Saturday (Integrated Sports PPV, 9 p.m. ET, $29.95). They will fight at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., where Adamek, who lives in Jersey City, is a major draw because of the large Polish community in the region.
All Adamek has to do is win and he will get a shot at heavyweight titlist Vitali Klitschko on Sept. 10 at a stadium in Poland in what is sure to be a memorable scene.
But first Adamek has to get there. Even though McBride is a tremendous underdog, don't tell Adamek about the odds. His mission is simply to stay focused, win and move on to the fight against Klitschko.
Since signing with Main Events in mid-2008, Adamek has fought as regularly as any top fighter in boxing. That is what he wanted, so even though there is a title shot -- and millions of dollars on the line -- he did not just want to sit and wait for the opportunity, which he would have gotten without this interim bout against McBride.
"I do not look past McBride or take him for granted," Adamek said. "This is boxing. One punch can change the situation, just one punch can change everything. This is my test before Klitschko. I respect McBride.
"A lot of people say, 'Why do you fight before the Klitschko fight and take a chance?' You know every fight is a danger, but I can't stay home and sit with nothing to do. I need to practice. Every day I learn a little bit, and a little bit more, this is my way. It will only help me prepare."
The other reason Adamek took this fight is to gain more experience against a big man. McBride is a mountain of man, who, at 6-foot-6, is similar in size to Klitschko. McBride also weighs about 280 pounds (30 or so more than Klitschko) to Adamek's approximate 216 pounds.
"We are taking this fight very serious because Kevin can punch," Roger Bloodworth, Adamek's trainer, said. "Kevin's Irish and he comes to fight. Tomasz is the type of fighter that can't stay idle. He has to stay busy, so we asked for somebody big and they got us somebody big."
Adamek is counting on his speed advantage to be a big benefit against McBride (who is coming off a win but lost his four previous bouts) and Klitschko.
"People say I cannot beat the Klitschkos because I am too short, that I can't fight heavyweight, but when I started fighting heavyweight I beat [the bigger Cristobal] Arreola and [Michael] Grant, and every fight is better. I love not being the favorite because I want to make it a surprise and become the heavyweight champion.
"I think the worst opponent is a quick opponent because they can do anything. I am faster than a big heavyweight. My legs are very good. This is not the street, it is the ring. Whoever is the smartest will win. I will show my class on [Saturday] and win."
McBride certainly hopes to disrupt Adamek's plan.
"If I get into the later rounds with Tomasz Adamek, when I hit him on the chin, he's going to think the whole of Poland hit him," he said.
Said Jerry Quinn, McBride's manager, "We know we are the underdogs for this fight but we were the underdogs for the Mike Tyson fight also. People underestimated us. I know Tomasz is a great fighter. We give him a lot of respect, but we're coming here to win."
Three weeks after he suffered a knee injury in a first-round knockout loss to heavyweight titlist Vitali Klitschko, Odlanier Solis spent his 31st birthday in a German hospital this week for a second surgery on his bum right knee.
Solis' knee gave out on him as the first round of his mandatory fight against Klitschko was coming to an end in Cologne, Germany, on March 19.
Solis (17-1, 12 KOs) underwent surgery Tuesday to repair the ACL in the knee. He has also had meniscus damage repaired, according to promoter Arena Box. On April 15, he will have another operation to repair cartilage damage.
"Once I can leave the hospital I want to start training right away to return to the ring as fast as possible," said Solis, a 2004 Cuban Olympic gold medalist before defecting and turning pro in 2007.
Solis is scheduled to return to Miami around April 20 to start his rehabilitation. According to Dr. Heinz-Jürgen Eichhorn, Solis could be ready to fight again in October.
Although it appears unlikely, Solis would like a rematch with Klitschko.
"I hope that Vitali will give me an immediate rematch," he said. "I would suggest to do the fight in Cologne again with free admission for all the fans who had bought a ticket for the first fight. They spent a lot of money to see a great battle and a great show."
Cayo-Peterson on 'Friday Night Fights'
Warriors Boxing promoter Leon Margules won a purse bid for a junior welterweight title eliminator between Victor Cayo, a Warriors fighter, and free agent Lamont Peterson. Margules was the only bidder, offering $25,000. Dominican Republic native Cayo (26-1, 18 KOs), whose only loss was a sixth-round knockout to Marcos Maidana in a March 2010 interim title bout, is entitled to 60 percent ($15,000) and Peterson, as the lower-ranked IBF contender, gets 40 percent ($10,000).
The fight headlines the April 29 edition of ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights."
Peterson's only loss was a lopsided decision in a title bout against Timothy Bradley Jr. in December 2009. Peterson (28-1-1, 14 KOs), coming off a draw against Victor Ortiz on HBO in December, turned down more than $300,000 to challenge titleholder Amir Khan on April 16 in England (and on HBO again). And now he will fight for a fraction of that.
"It ain't about the money this time. It's about the opportunity," said Barry Hunter, Peterson's father figure, trainer and manager. "When we get [Cayo] out of the way then we get to face Zab Judah [as a mandatory challenger] for a world title. We don't regret turning down Khan.
"When there's something like $5 million in a fight and you're only getting between $300,000 and $375,000, that's not right, especially when you got to go to Khan's backyard and you know you're going to need a knockout to win. You know how that goes. And they were insisting on a rematch clause. So we made our decision."
When Margules bid he did not think Peterson would accept the fight and had Tim Coleman, the next available challenger, lined up to face Cayo instead. But in the event Peterson did accept, Margules said his deal with Coleman promised him a spot on the undercard.
•Rafael Marquez (39-6, 35 KOs), the 36-year-old former bantamweight and junior featherweight champion, will fight on the June 4 undercard of the Sebastian Zbik's middleweight title defense against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. at Staples Center in Los Angeles, according to Zanfer Promotions matchmaker Sean Gibbons. Marquez, known for his epic four-fight series against rival Israel Vazquez, has not fought since an eighth-round knockout loss to featherweight titlist Juan Manuel Lopez in November. Marquez, of Mexico, retired on his stool after the eighth round because of a shoulder injury. "His shoulder is OK now. He is back and healed. Everything is good," Gibbons said. Marquez will fight an opponent to be determined at about 128 pounds, Gibbons said. If Marquez wins, he will likely face Puerto Rico's Lopez in a fall rematch, Gibbons said. Lopez, however, has to win his title defense against Orlando Salido on April 16 (Showtime) in Puerto Rico.
•Featherweights Miguel Angel "Mikey" Garcia (25-0, 21 KOs) and Australia's Billy Dib (31-1, 19 KOs) have been ordered to meet for the IBF's vacant featherweight belt. The camps have until April 28 to make a deal or a purse bid will be ordered. The title became vacant when Yuriorkis Gamboa, who also has another alphabet title, declined to defend it when he knocked out Jorge Solis on March 26 in Atlantic City, N.J., in an HBO main event. Gamboa declined to attend a mandated Saturday morning weight check. Garcia stopped Matt Remillard in the 10th round of the co-feature. Dib's only loss came via decision in a 2008 featherweight title bout against Steven Luevano. Carl Moretti of Top Rank, Garcia's promoter, said he is in talks with the Dib camp.
•Junior middleweight contender Vanes Martirosyan (29-0, 18 KOs) scored a second-round knockout of Bladimir Hernandez on March 19 in his first fight in nine months and was supposed to return in short order to face Saul Roman in a title elimination bout on April 23 in the main event of a "Top Rank Live" card. However, the 24-year-old Martirosyan came down with flu-like symptoms and withdrew from the bout this week after missing time training. "He's better now after being sick, but he's very weak and he can't train at a 100 percent and didn't think he would be ready in time," Top Rank matchmaker Brad "Abdul" Goodman said. With Martirosyan out, Top Rank will elevate featherweight prospect Roberto Marroquin from the co-feature against Frankie Leal to the main event.
•Junior middleweight titlist Cornelius "K9" Bundrage will meet mandatory challenger Sechew Powell on June 25 after their promoters -- Bundrage is with Don King and Powell with Leon Margules -- made a deal this week and avoided a purse bid, Margules told ESPN.com. The bout is slated to take place on the undercard of the Devon Alexander-Lucas Matthysse junior welterweight fight. HBO will carry the main event, but has no plans to air Bundrage-Powell. Bundrage and Powell met once before, in a May 2005 "ShoBox" fight on Showtime, and Powell scored a first-round knockout in a wild round that included a rare double knockdown (although the referee missed it). Bundrage (30-4, 18 KOs), however, would go on to win a title last year. He went to Cory Spinks' hometown of St. Louis and knocked him out in the fifth round of a dominant performance in August. Powell (26-2, 15 KOs) has not fought since winning a majority decision against Deandre Latimore in a March 2010 title eliminator that made him Bundrage's mandatory challenger.
•The finishing touches are being put on a deal that would see flyweight titlist Julio Cesar Miranda (35-5-1, 28 KOs) of Mexico head to the Philippines to make his fourth defense against mandatory challenger Brian Viloria on June 11 in Manila. Viloria, a Filipino-American from Hawaii, would be fighting in the Philippines for the fifth time in his past six fights. Viloria (28-3, 16 KOs) has won two fights in a row since being stopped in the 12th round and losing his junior flyweight title to Carlos Tamara in January 2010 in the Philippines. "We're pretty close to putting the deal together, but it's not quite done yet," Gary Gittelsohn, Viloria's manager, told ESPN.com. "All the major points have been covered. We're down to fine tuning. It's a great opportunity for Brian to win another title."
•Super middleweight contender Librado Andrade (29-3, 22 KOs) will fight for the first time in a year when he headlines Telefutura's "Solo Boxeo Tecate" from the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, Calif., on May 6. Andrade, who will face an opponent to be determined, has been out of action since stopping former titlist Eric Lucas in the eighth round on ESPN2 in May 2010 and sending him into a second retirement. Andrade, a three-time title challenger, will be fighting on the same card as his younger brother, Enrique Ornelas, for the first time since 2004. Ornelas, fighting at middleweight, will also fight an opponent to be determined in the televised opener. Ornelas (30-7, 20 KOs) is coming off a decision loss to super middleweight titlist Robert Stieglitz (whom Andrade owns a win against) in November. For those wondering why the brothers go by different last names: Andrade took their father's last name while Ornelas took their mother's.
•Junior bantamweight titleholders Tomas Rojas (35-12-1, 23 KOs) and Cristian Mijares are both set to defend their belts against mandatory challengers on competing cards in Mexico on May 14. Rojas, making his second defense, is slated to face Juan Jose Montes (19-1, 12 KOs) in the main event of "Top Rank Live" (Fox Deportes). Mijares (41-6-2, 18 KOs), a two-time titleholder, who outpointed Juan Alberto Rosas in December to take his belt, meets Raul Martinez (28-1, 16 KOs) of San Antonio. Martinez, whose only loss came via fourth-round knockout to Nonito Donaire in a 2009 flyweight title fight, earned the shot against Mijares with a decision against Rodrigo Guerrero in a November elimination bout. "Raul thinks it's a tough fight because [Mijares] is a southpaw, but he says he can take him," Lou Mesorana, Martinez's manager, told ESPN.com. "He believes he has enough power to hurt him and speed and skills. He has a good shot."
•A lightweight fight pitting prospects John Molina (21-1, 17 KOs), 28, and Sharif Bogere (19-0, 12 KOs), 22, has been called off after the camps could not reach an agreement on how many rounds to schedule for the bout. They were supposed to headline on Showtime's "ShoBox" on May 13. However, Molina, who is more experienced against a better grade of opponent, wanted the bout scheduled for 12 rounds for his regional belt while Bogere wanted it as a 10-rounder. Ultimately, Molina would not budge. Now Bogere, who fights for Golden Boy, which has the date, will appear in the main event, likely against Francisco Contreras (16-0, 13 KOs).
•Welterweight titlist Andre Berto and challenger Victor Ortiz will take center stage when they square off April 16 at Foxwoods resort in Mashantucket, Conn., on April 16 on HBO, which also have same-day taped coverage of junior welterweight titlist Amir Khan' defense against Paul McCloskey from England. But Lou DiBella, Berto's promoter, has rounded out the Berto-Ortiz undercard. It will include junior middleweight contender Deandre Latimore in an eight-rounder against Dennis Sharpe. St. Louis' Latimore (21-3, 17KOs) has come close to winning his two most significant fights, but lost close decisions. He lost a majority decision to Sechew Powell in a title eliminator two fights ago and also lost a split decision to then-titlist Cory Spinks in an all-St. Louis showdown in April 2009. Latimore hopes to win April 16 and position himself for another title shot. "Hopefully, after this bout, I can challenge either Erislandy Lara or Carlos Molina for the No. 1 contender position" Latimore said. "I just went to their [draw] here in Las Vegas and I know I can beat either guy that the IBF orders me to fight." Also on the April 16 undercard will be welterweight prospects Thomas Dulorme of Puerto Rico and Joseph Elegele, who is in Berto's camp.
•Promoters Gary Shaw, Lou DiBella and Puerto Rico's Javier Bustillo of Universal Promotions have partnered on several fighters recently and did so again this week by signing Puerto Rican junior welterweight Kenny Galarza (14-1, 14 KOs). Galarza, who had a standout amateur career in which he had more than 300 fights and won several national and international titles, was a fast-rising prospect when he ran into fellow prospect Brad Solomon and lost a near-shutout 10-round decision on ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights" in June 2010. Galarza has won one fight since before his contract with Warriors Boxing was up. "I'm very grateful for this opportunity provided by Javier, Gary and Lou. I will work hard not to disappoint them and provide my town of Juana Diaz and my island of Puerto Rico many victories," Galarza said. Galarza's first fight under his new promotional deal will come on a June 10 card in New York. "We have big plans for Kenny," DiBella said. "He is a tremendous fighter and I'm sure will bring great glory to Puerto Rico."
"I really feel strong at 126. I'm eating well. I'm doing my diet the proper way. I definitely feel better than I did at 122 and I'm much stronger. But I may be moving up after the end of the year." -- featherweight titlist Juan Manuel Lopez, talking about his future following his title defense at home in Puerto Rico against Mexico's Orlando Salido on April 16 (Showtime).
"It's never easy to fight in a champion's backyard, but I will give it my all to win and bring the belt back to Mexico. I know one thing: Lopez is a great champion who likes to fight and, with my style, it should make for a great and exciting fight." -- former featherweight titlist Salido on his upcoming fight against Lopez.
All Tomasz Adamek has to do is beat Kevin McBride on Saturday and he will get a shot at heavyweight titlist Vitali Klitschko on Sept. 10 at a stadium in Poland in what is sure to be a memorable scene.