V. Klitschko unfazed by Adamek fight
The Klitschko brothers -- champions Wladimir and Vitali -- are the dominant heavyweights in the world. Few view it as even a close race between them and the rest of the field, and it has been that way for years.
Just look at the results. Wladimir has made 10 dominant title defenses during his current reign, including a near-shutout of titlist David Haye on July 2.
Vitali gave up his title and retired for nearly four years because of injuries before making a healthy return in late 2008. He dominated before his retirement and has continued to since ending it. He stopped Samuel Peter to regain his old belt in his first fight out of retirement and has made six defenses against mostly quality opponents, beating all of them with the same kind of ease with which his brother has beaten his opponents.
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So who is left for them to fight? The group of qualified candidates grows smaller with each passing fight because, between them, the Klitschkos have erased most of the top 10.
But one man, Tomasz Adamek, has earned his shot, is hungry for it and is up next for Vitali, hoping to change the landscape of boxing's most glamorous division.
"I have studied Klitschko a lot," Adamek said." It will be a great fight, and at the end I will be the new world heavyweight champion."
Said Klitschko: "After my brother Wladimir and me, Adamek is the third-best heavyweight in the world. He is definitely better than David Haye, who [was] just a world champion in talking."
Adamek called beating Vitali his "destiny." On paper it is no easy task. Klitschko (42-2, 39 KOs) is a chiseled 6-foot-7 and 250 pounds, with one of the highest knockout percentages in heavyweight history.
Adamek (43-1, 28 KOs), a former light heavyweight and cruiserweight champ, is 6-1, 215 pounds. He is simply tiny compared to Klitschko. But with his quick hands and determination, Adamek has done well since moving up to heavyweight in late 2009. He is 6-0 in the division, including a decision against top-10 contender Cristobal Arreola (whom Klitschko stopped in the 10th round of a lopsided 2009 title fight).
Fighting Klitschko, however, figures to be far different than fighting Arreola or the likes of Michael Grant, Vinny Maddalone and Kevin McBride -- some of Adamek's other heavyweight victims.
Adamek will nonetheless go for it when he challenges Klitschko at the brand-new 40,000-plus-seat Wroclaw Stadium in Wroclaw, Poland, on Saturday (HBO, live at 4:45 p.m. ET with a replay at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT) in the biggest fight in Polish history. It's such a big deal in Poland that it will be the country's first fight ever shown on pay-per-view.
It's a very tough task. I am more than sure the fight will be very interesting. I prepare for this fight like it's my toughest fight in my boxing career. I know the quality of Tomasz Adamek. Speed is very important, but it is not enough.” -- Vitali Klitschko on facing the smaller, quicker Tomasz Adamek in Saturday's heavyweight title fight
HBO will air the prime-time replay along with the night's featherweight fight between Yuriorkis Gamboa and Daniel Ponce De Leon from the Adrian Phillips Ballroom at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J.
If Klitschko, who turned 40 in July, is at all concerned about going to Poland, where the Jersey City, N.J.-based Adamek is a huge star, he sure didn't sound like it. Although Ukraine's Klitschko has fought most of his career in his adopted home country of Germany, he has also been successful on the road.
He fought Arreola in his hometown of Los Angeles. He fought for his first heavyweight belt in Herbie Hide's home country of England.
"First of all, Adamek is hometown boy, but I am sure many people from Germany, Ukraine and Russia will support me in this fight," Klitschko said from his training camp in Austria. "The second point is, it is not about nationality, skin color or any of that. It is about skills. I have skills. I have experience. I fought in Great Britain against Herbie Hide. I fought Arreola in the United States. I have fought Germans in Germany. For me, [going to Poland] is nothing special. I am in good shape and ready to show it in my performance."
Adamek, 34, is excited to return to Poland. He hasn't fought there since his first heavyweight fight in October 2009, when he knocked out countryman and long-faded contender Andrew Golota in the fifth round.
"Tomasz has fought in Poland before. It's not like it's something new to him," trainer Roger Bloodworth said. "He's been under the pressure before. The crowd will be larger, but I don't think it will affect him."
"I'm very excited to come back to Poland and for my whole country to watch me," Adamek said. "I want to make a surprise for everybody and win this fight. It is my dream."
Adamek, and most everyone else, is acutely aware of his underdog status. He is talented and has been a champion in lower weight divisions, but Klitschko's massive size advantage looms. So too do these facts: Klitschko has never been knocked down or trailed in a fight.
Vitali's two defeats were the result of injuries suffered in fights he was winning. There was a torn rotator cuff against Chris Byrd in a 2003 title bout that Klitschko had dominated before retiring after the ninth round. And in 2003, he led then-champion Lennox Lewis by two points on all three scorecards when the fight was stopped after the sixth round because Klitschko had suffered a horrific cut over his eye.
As far as Adamek being the underdog, his camp isn't concerned.
"Anyone who fights either Klitschko is going to be the underdog," said Main Events' Kathy Duva, Adamek's promoter. "That's just the way it is. We've thought for a very long time he will surprise people. It's wonderful to be the underdog. You don't have the pressure the champion does. Tomasz has been the favorite for so many years and now he is back to being the underdog like he was against [Steve] Cunningham [in a 2008 fight in which he won the cruiserweight title]."
Adamek's greatest weapon will be his speed. Both camps acknowledge that.
"I told many fans it is not about size. It is about your inside quality," Klitschko said. "His is very high. He was champion in two divisions. My opinion is, it will be easy to fight him. He has great coordination, great movement, good reaction. It's a very tough task. I am more than sure the fight will be very interesting. I prepare for this fight like it's my toughest fight in my boxing career. I know the quality of Tomasz Adamek. Speed is very important, but it is not enough."
Said Adamek: "I'm quick. If I am quick, I can beat everybody -- a tall guy, a strong guy. Klitschko is champion. I respect him, but speed is power. I move side-to-side. I throw many combinations. This is my attitude to win."
To get ready for Klitschko, Adamek's handlers purposely matched him with much taller and heavier opponents in recent bouts to simulate Klitschko.
Bloodworth said the strategy worked, and that Adamek was ready for Klitschko after a 10-week training camp. But Bloodworth also knows this will be a very dangerous fight.
"I think Tomasz is quicker and, obviously, he is fighting a very big man and he can't be in the wrong place at the wrong time," he said. "I don't think any fighter is unbeatable. Even the Klitschkos have lost."
Bloodworth wouldn't reveal the game plan for Klitschko, but he did mention one thing that, as obvious as it seems, is also quite important.
"I'll tell you what we plan not to do," Bloodworth said, "and that's block his right hand with Tomasz's head."
Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter @danrafaelespn.
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