- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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Heavyweight Vyacheslav "Czar" Glazkov, who won an Olympic bronze medal for Ukraine in the 2008 Beijing Games, arrived in New York from his home country on Feb. 21 to finish preparing for his next fight.
Of course, Glazkov also had his mind on the recent turmoil and political unrest that has engulfed his country and put it on the brink of a civil war. But Glazkov is trying to stay focused on the most significant fight of his career when he faces top contender Tomasz Adamek in a scheduled 12-round elimination bout on Saturday night at Sands Resort and Casino in Bethlehem, Pa.
The winner of the fight will earn the No. 2 ranking in one of the sanctioning organizations and move a step closer to becoming one of champion Wladimir Klitschko's mandatory challengers.
"Of course, I am always looking and always searching what is going on in my country," said Glazkov, who did the final few weeks of his training in Brooklyn, N.Y. "[Ukraine] is my country and my family is there. And, of course, I am concerned and worried about it. And I hope that politics is going to stop soon and people are not going to be fighting."
He'd rather they leave the fighting to him.
The 29-year-old Glazkov, who is 6-foot-3 and 222 pounds, has moved quickly since turning pro in mid-2009, following the disappointment of his Olympic experience. Though he received a medal, he was forced to withdraw from the semifinals against China's Zhang Zhilei (who signed a pro contract this week) -- a fighter he had already beaten twice in the amateurs -- due to a shoulder injury.
In December 2012, Glazkov stepped up in competition to face Tor Hamer and made him quit after four rounds. Glazkov followed that win with a split draw against then-undefeated Malik Scott 13 months ago.
Although the bout was ruled a draw, many believed Scott had done more than enough to deserve the decision. Even Glazkov seemed to agree, even though he didn't say that outright.
"After the bout with Malik Scott, me and my trainer [Eduard Menshekov] went over it and we found some mistakes with it in our preparation for the fight," Glazkov said. "Also, during the fight I was too tight, I couldn't throw my punches the right way and properly. So I got some experience and it's a very good thing it happened to me."
Glazkov (16-0-1, 11 KOs) bounced back from the draw with a second-round knockout of journeyman Byron Polley in a stay-busy fight in August, setting him up to face Adamek, a former cruiserweight and light heavyweight titleholder, on Nov. 16 in Verona, N.Y. However, Adamek came down with a stomach bug and dropped out three days before the fight. Glazkov wound up facing late substitute Garrett Wilson instead and rolled to a dominant 10-round decision victory.
The fight with Adamek (49-2, 29 KOs), 37, a native of Poland living in Jersey City, N.J., was quickly rescheduled and Glazkov hasn't given Adamek any grief for postponing the bout.
"I don't think Tomasz was playing any kind of game," Glazkov said. "He's an experienced fighter. He's not scared. He knows exactly what he is doing and he is like everybody else -- he can get sick or have something wrong with their health. So, personally, I don't think he was playing some kind of tricks."
In the scheduled 10-round light heavyweight co-feature, Isaac Chilemba (21-2-2, 9 KOs) of South Africa will face San Diego-based Russian Denis Grachev (13-2-1, 8 KOs) in a fight between fringe contenders.
Glazkov and Adamek are familiar with each other having been in the ring with each other many times. When Adamek was training for a fight last August against Tony Grano -- who got injured, dropped out and was replaced by Dominick Guinn -- Glazkov served as Adamek's main sparring partner.
Glazkov was training for the fight with Polley, which was on Adamek's undercard.
They spent six weeks working together regularly. Neither man, however, believes all that time in the ring together is going to have any particular meaning come fight time.
"I think we are on equal grounds here since I sparred with him," Glazkov said. "He also sparred with me. So whatever I have learned about him, I am sure he learned about me, as well. [But] I don't see any other way to come into the ring than with confidence that I am going to win the fight. There is no other way for me."
Said Adamek, whose only heavyweight title fight ended in a 10th-round knockout loss challenging then-titleholder Vitali Klitschko in 2011 in Poland: "My opinion is sparring is sparring, the fight is a different story. [In the fight] you have small gloves, no head gear and millions of people in the world watching you. It's a different game. I'm looking not for what was, but what is in the future. The fight is important, I want to show my class, my experience and win this fight."
One of the reasons they sparred together was because it was easy for their promoter, Main Events, to facilitate. But now that they are going to face each other, it has put Main Events chief executive Kathy Duva in a difficult spot.
Unlike some bigger promotional companies that match their fighters all the time, Duva's company is a lot smaller and she doesn't like doing it.
"I hate putting two of our fighters against each other," she said. "I feel like Archie Manning when the Giants play the Broncos [pitting quarterback brothers Eli and Peyton against each other]. But we made this fight because it's the right fight for both guys and it will be fantastic in the ring. I won't enjoy it but the fans at the Sands and the fans watching on NBCSN will see a great fight.
"It's the kind of fight where I'm just going to root for it to be fight of the year because I really can't root for either fighter. I'm rooting for the fans. I'm rooting for a great fight."
While political unrest continues play out in his native Ukraine, unbeaten heavyweight Vyacheslav "Czar" Glazkov readies for the most important fight of his career against veteran Tomasz Adamek.