Adamek Breaks Down Banks

ADAMEK BREAKS DOWN BANKS

IBF and universally recognized Cruiserweight Champion Tomasz Adamek successfully defended his title with an eighth round knockout over previously undefeated challenger Johnathon Banks.

So confident in his abilities was Banks that he turned down a WBO title shot for more money in order to fight the best cruiserweight in the world in the champion’s backyard of Newark, New Jersey. Adamek was literally fighting less than 20 minutes away from his residence, and the crowd would remind Banks of that fact all night as they chanted Adamek’s name.

But despite the fact that Banks was largely untested against quality opposition, he was undefeated, a Kronk raised fighter, and the product of Emanuel Steward’s tutelage, so he had to be considered a live underdog. Boxing fans, however, best remember Banks for twice going down against Eliseo Castillo before getting up to score a knockout win two and a half years ago, and had their doubts about the challenger’s ability to survive twelve rounds with an iron-chinned head hunter like Adamek. That turned out to be the case as Banks boxed well early but eventually got caught and taken out.

Less than three months removed from his classic war against Steve Cunningham, Adamek showed caution early and felt Banks’ power midway through the first round when the challenger scored with a big right hand to the head. Adamek seemed momentarily stunned but answered with his own right hand that brought a similar response from Banks in the final seconds of the round, followed by another right that nearly allowed him to steal the round. Banks followed up with a nice second round, keeping his distance and working both hands to counter punch Adamek effectively. Adamek again ended the round with a good right but had allowed himself to be outworked to that point in the fight.

In round three, the action picked up as Adamek started letting his hands go more. After getting caught with a big left hook, Adamek answered back with a head-turning right on Banks. Adamek seemed to do more damage and thus took the round. In what was perhaps a sign that he was beginning to feel Adamek’s increasing pressure, Banks initiated the first clinches of the fight in the fourth round. Then, out of nowhere, Banks ducked a right and countered with his own that snapped the champion’s head up and probably would have dropped any cruiserweight not named Adamek. Instead, the blow only energized Adamek, who looked to throw more and ended up getting caught by a straight right hand to the chin and a sweeping left hook across the face that buckled his knees and knocked him back several paces on unsteady legs. Rather than play defense, the shaken champion came back with combinations of his own but dropped the round to the challenger and returned to his corner with his right eye swelling up badly.

In spite of the unfavorable situation, Adamek rebounded well and appeared to edge a close contested fifth round as Banks began to tire. The sixth round was a more obvious one for the champion, who at one point landed a left hook to the head and body before coming back up to the head again. Adamek got a little overanxious as he proceeded to land a low blow, earning Banks a breather when Referee Eddie Cotton stopped the action. When the round continued, Adamek landed a combination to Banks’ body, followed by a right to the head. More body shots found their target, and Adamek added a hook to the head of Banks as well, beginning to take over the fight.

With the fans thundering his name, Adamek continued to punish Banks to the body in the seventh but walked into a huge right to the head in the eighth that shockingly didn’t put him on the canvas. Banks went for a knockout, throwing with both hands and pushing Adamek away to create some punching distance. That was the right move for the challenger, given the way the fight was progressing, but Adamek caught him swinging with a right hand of his own that would bring an abrupt end to the fight. The damage had been done as Adamek added a left hook, and Banks froze up for an instant before collapsing back into the ropes on his trunks.

Banks made it to his feet by the count of six and seemed to be out of sorts as he walked away, keeping a glove on the ropes to help him regain his balance. Cotton turned Banks around, briefly checked him, and controversially allowed him to walk back out for more punishment. Adamek went for the knockout, scoring with two body shots and a combination upstairs to drive the challenger into the ropes. Big power shots rained on Banks’ head, and, just as Cotton was leaping in the way to stop the massacre, Banks sank to a knee and bent backwards into the ropes.

The fans went wild in support of the local fighter and a great fight. Bleeding from the nose but back on his feet, a weary Banks tried to get his wits about him after suffering his first professional defeat. He certainly came to fight and didn’t run when the going got tough but was simply outmatched. With more experience, Banks could stay near the top of the division, but he’s going to have to protect what has to be considered a suspect chin in order to succeed.

There are only great things to be said about a champion like Adamek, who fights often and takes on quality opposition. His indomitable spirit, great chin, and stunning knockout power make it impossible to ever count him out of a fight. He started slow against Banks, took some big shots, and still ended up completely dominating him before getting in too deep of trouble in terms of rounds remaining. The fight the boxing world surely wants to see next is a rematch with Cunningham in what is likely to be another Fight of the Year candidate. Given Adamek’s willing nature and the amount of money the bout should generate, it would be difficult to see it not happening in 2009.

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