NEWARK, N.J.–Heavyweight contender Tomasz Adamek won an ugly contest with a paunchy Kevin McBride on Saturday at the Prudential Center to set up a showdown with champ Vitali Klitschko later this year. The 12-round decision was one of only two fights to go the distance on the lopsided Main Events card carried by Integrated Sports Pay Per View.
The heavily partisan crowd clad mostly in the red and white of Adamek’s native Poland screamed themselves hoarse and danced to polka music between rounds, making the best of what can only be described as an ugly spectacle inside the ring. Weighing in at 285 lbs., it was clear from the moment he got off the plane that McBride (35-9-1, 29 Kos) had left his will to win back in Ireland.
Realizing he had no chance at winning a boxing match the Irishman quickly turned to roughhouse tactics such hip tosses, pushing the Pole’s head down and nailing him with rabbit punches. He also repeatedly bared his teeth in a manner that left those at ringside unclear whether he wanted to punish the smaller man or gobble him for a snack.
But as crude, fat and slow as he was in the ring, McBride was a gentleman in defeat. While he indicated Adamek’s power was not on par with some of the heavyweights he has faced, he credited the Pole’s speed for carrying the fight. McBride joked that had he come into the ring 20 lbs. lighter he may have caught Adamek. He ended the press conference by announcing his retirement from boxing after 19 years. Sending Mike Tyson into retirement will likely remain McBride’s primary claim to fame for fight fans.
For his part Adamek once again delighted his vocal New Jersey supporters and gamely turned up the pressure in the later rounds in an attempt to get the stoppage. With that said, aside from a couple well-placed combinations his punches didn’t seem to be that telling and one would be hard-pressed to lay out a realistic path to victory for Adamek against one of the Ukrainian giants. Still, he will get his shot to shock the world later this year and many would love to see him pull it off.
My colleague Mike Coppinger warned me before tonight’s co-feature that Brooklyn welterweight prospect and 2008 Olympian Sadam “World Kid” Ali isn’t much of a heavy hitter; Ali must have heard Mike from his plum seat in the front row for Ring Magazine because he responded by shattering Javier Perez with two picturesque left hooks that left the Puerto Rican face down on the canvas in the third round.
After Perez (8-5, 5KOs) swung and missed wildly with a left in the opening round Ali (12-0, 7 KOs) countered with a perfectly timed counter-left hook that left his opponent spinning into the canvas. After a quiet second round that saw Ali box his way around the ring, he came out for the third with an uppercut that barely missed followed by a left that found its way home. Perez was unable to get up and Ali had corrected any poor impressions left by his points win against Manuel Guzman in December at the Rock.
After the fight Ali looked relaxed and confident answering questions in a loose cream suit and open black dress shirt. He blamed a cold for his poor performance against Guzman and rated his performance against Perez between 8.5 and 9. We’ll definitely be keeping an eye on his progress moving forward.
Hailing from Poland by way of Chicago, light heavyweight Andrej Fonfara basked in his countrymen’s admiration after his 4th-round KO of Ray Smith from Little Rock, Ark. The fight was a tune-up for Fonfara’s shot at the NABO light heavyweight strap in Chicago on May 20 against an undetermined opponent.
Fonfara’s warm reception by the Polish crowd may offer the most obvious argument for setting up cards around ethnic and geographic ties: Who doesn’t like to see someone from their block knockout the cross-town rival? That goes double when said compatriot traces his roots back to the same motherland.
In the first televised fight Josellito Collado eked out a split decision against Rafael Lora in the only other bout to go the distance (six rounds). Collado kept up the pressure but both men were game and willing to trade, making it the most even matchup of the evening. In untelevised action Jose “Mangu” Peralta stopped Colombia’s Eber Luis Perez in the 3rd round, while local welterweight prospect Vinny O’Brien won his second professional bout by stopping Shakir Dunn with less than ten seconds left in the 4th and final round. The affable O’Brien sat next to your correspondent on press row for the main event and plans to fight at the Rock again on May 20 on the undercard of ESPN’s Friday Night Fights.
Gautham Nagesh is the editor of Stiff Jab.