There have been few heavyweight fights in recent time that provided the action and excitement of this past Saturday’s bout between Chris Arreola and Tomasz Adamek.
Adamek’s twelve round majority decision came on the heels of a fight that was as much power versus technique as it was a wild brawl. Adamek gained the decision with his ability to fluster Arreola for the majority of the fight. His stick-and-move mentality saw many, many combinations land that turned Arreola’s face to a puffy, and somewhat swollen, red by fight’s end.
Arreola made the fight a fight, instead of a one-sided exhibition of Adamek’s technical prowess, by finding a way to land the big shots in the early rounds to stay in the fight. He looked close to knocking Adamek to the canvas several times in rounds ten and eleven, helping to make those rounds the most action-packed of the fight.
The win was the third in three fights at heavyweight for Adamek, and has put him among those vying for potential shots at the Klitschkos. Included in that group are Alexander Povetkin, Samuel Peter, Nikolai Valuev and Ruslan Chagaev.
For a guy with an amateur background that suggests he can fight as well as handle himself against more complete boxers, Arreola’s problem in this fight mirrored his problem against Vitali Klitschko last September: he can’t handle himself against more complete fighters.
Some point to stamina as Arreola’s main weakness. That wasn’t the case as Arreola actually proved to have decent stamina against Adamek. The issue is that this is a fighter more than a boxer and in the world of boxing, you can only go so far with that mentality.
Rounds ten and eleven Saturday night saw Arreola at his best when he was landing and, at times, pummeling Adamek with punches around the ring. However, those were only short bursts and Adamek always found a way to end the rounds better. The other issue, more in this fight than in the loss to Vitali Klitschko, was that Arreola was visibly frustrated with how Adamek was taking the fight to Arreola. Again, more fighter than boxer. In boxing that is something that you simply can’t show your opponent, especially when you’re losing the fight.
Both men came out swinging, albeit in different ways, and never let up with Arreola throwing more punches than in any of his twenty-nine other pro bouts landing 127 of 532 thrown. The stats help indicate how far apart these fighters may be as Adamek landed seventy more punches than Arrerola and nearly doubled Arreola’s output of landed power punches, something that is the bread and butter of Arreola’s attack.
To add to Arreola’s confusion about how to win the big fights, his offense may have been what got the better of him in the end. An injury to his left hand was noticeably visible during the final rounds of the fight. In the post-fight interview, Arreola said he hurt the hand in round five but he chose to keep on fighting. A shot to the top of Adamek’s head in round ten resulted in a noticeable wince of pain on Arreola’s face, and a landed punch in round eleven nearly sent him to his knees in pain.
The silver lining for Arreola is that neither of his two losses have damaged him irreparably. For one, few expected him to even stand up to Vitali, and the fight with Adamek was one that Arreola made compelling and did show the signs that he could become something much more as a boxer. The beauty of this potential is that he is still relatively young at twenty-nine years old, and is still the great hope for an American heavyweight champion. All other highly-ranked American heavyweights—Ray Austin, Eddie Chambers, Tony Thompson—have been decimated by a Klitschko. The same happened to Hashim Rahman in embarrassing fashion. That leaves Evander Holyfield as the only big-name American heavyweight who hasn’t fought a Klitschko, and that is a minefield I’m not even going to step into looking at the heavyweight division today.
One final thing about this fight: One reason it was compelling was that it was a really tough fight to score. The judges’ cards convey that difficulty perfectly with scores of 114-114 (Tony Crebs), 115-113 Adamek (Barry Druxman), and 117-111 Adamek (Joseph Pasquale). Off the top of my head, rounds one, two, and four were easily swing rounds where at least one could have gone to Arreola. Harold Letterman of HBO gave Adamek the tenth and eleventh rounds despite Arreola landing the more effective blows, but Adamek was able to finish the final halves of both rounds strong going back to the combinations and regaining ring control. The fight itself was a fight of close rounds scattered throughout, and it is fights like these that could bring the heavyweight division back to prominence. A perfect blend of technique, hard strikes, and action really made this one of the better heavyweight fights in years without hyperbole.
However, it’s never a good sign when you’re waiting for the champions to retire so the scene can become really competitive again.
Adamek 10 10 10 10 9 9 10 10 10 9 9 10 116
Arreola 9 9 9 9 10 10 9 9 9 10 10 9 112