Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Underdog Walker aims for Adamek
By Dan Rafael
Heavyweight Travis Walker, who has been a pro fighter since 2004, is still looking for a signature victory. He's hoping to get it when he faces contender Tomasz Adamek of Poland, despite the long odds.
They meet Sept. 8 (WealthTV, 3 p.m. ET) at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., Adamek's American base.
"This is probably my biggest chance," said Walker, 33, of Houston. "I'm very confident and feel really good about it. I've been at this place before and I'm very proud of myself for getting here again. It was a long, long road I traveled to get back here."
Walker (39-7-1, 31 KOs) was picked because Adamek's handlers view him as a relatively safe opponent, and there is nothing on his résumé to suggest otherwise.
Although he is coming off his biggest win -- a sixth-round knockout of former title challenger Kali Meehan in March -- Walker has been fodder for many of the top heavyweights in recent years. He has been stopped in five of his seven losses, including multiple early knockouts. He has been stopped by fighters such as Cristobal Arreola (KO3), Manny Quezada (KO1) and Johnathon Banks (KO6). He did last the eight-round distance in a loss to former titleholder Ruslan Chagaev and dropped a 12-round decision to rising contender Kubrat Pulev -- who is now European champion -- in October.
The 6-foot-5, 250-pound Walker hopes to change his luck against Adamek (46-2, 28 KOs), a former light heavyweight and cruiserweight champion who has become a top heavyweight contender.
Walker figures he has Adamek right where he wants him. Clearly, the 35-year-old Adamek has showed signs of slippage. He was battered in a 10th-round knockout loss to heavyweight titlist Vitali Klitschko in November 2011. In his most recent fight, in June, Adamek was lucky to escape with a decision win against Eddie Chambers.
"I don't think he's the fighter he was," Walker said of Adamek.
That is one of the reasons Walker is willing to fight on Adamek's turf in Newark.
"I've been doing it my whole life, so it's nothing new to me," Walker said. "I've been to everybody's backyard. I'm going into this fight with the mind frame that I'm not going to win unless I stop him. I'm not going to force the knockout, but I really believe that I have to have one."