- Joe Tessitore, Boxing
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Like Rafael Nadal pulverizing baseline shots on red clay in Madrid, or A-Rod taking batting practice at a Kabbalah center, Tomasz Adamek's "Friday Night Fights" appearance in Chicago is a perfect fit.
The former light heavyweight champ is taking on Gary Gomez in Friday's main event. He will try to maintain his lofty cruiserweight ranking in front of his fans -- Polish fans. The same contingent who showed up 20,000 deep at the United Center in 2005 to see his bloody brawl with Paul Briggs. That was the night Adamek won the WBC's 175-pound title. In that fight, the Windy City Pole ate it up just like his compatriots eat up the pierogi and kielbasa at the annual Jefferson Park Labor Day festival.
This will be Adamek's third fight in Chicago. The first two were all out-wars, and wins, against Briggs. There are more people of Polish descent in Chicago than in any city outside of Warsaw -- that's a fact.
Now here's an opinion: Most of those Poles are aware Tomasz Adamek is one of the more underrated boxers in recent years, and they will be glad to tell you all about him.
Adamek (34-1, 23 KOs) is a sturdy 6-foot-2 and owns a 34-1 mark with 23 knockouts. He started his career in England before building himself up in Poland. He proved his worth by globe-trotting through Finland, Spain, Germany, Chicago and Florida -- no easy task.
His only loss is to Chad Dawson, a young, unbeaten champion. Still, even in that fight, he managed to knock down Dawson. Adamek then moved up to cruiserweight. At the bulked-up size he made O'Neil Bell, one of the biggest punchers around, quit on the stool to earn a mandatory title shot at 200 pounds.
"I trained hard and showed what I can do. This was my best performance," he said after dismantling former cruiserweight champ Bell.
That win has Adamek lined up to face the equally underrated Steve Cunningham for the IBF belt. Ring Magazine ranks the Polish native at No. 3 in the world. The bottom line is that his 25-pound gamble up the boxing ladder has paid off. His skill and will creates a thrill.
Gary Gomez (18-9-1, 7 KOs) stands in the way of Adamek and his shot at Cunningham. Gomez is a rugged Utah-based veteran who seems to be in over his head.
"I think I'm going to need to put a lot of pressure on him and back him up," Gomez said.
Some boxing insiders tell me Gomez will make for a great fight. Regardless, if Adamek is at his best, it will make for one heck of a Polish party in Chi-town.
So dust off your old Bobby Vinton vinyl -- the new Polish Prince is ready to dance under the bright lights. Either Adamek cruises toward a title shot, or another one of those ESPN upsets is going to shock us all. This one would be the biggest of the year.
Joe Tessitore is the blow-by-blow announcer for ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights."
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