Friday’s BASN Boxing Notebook

By Francis Walker
Updated: February 19, 2009

Steve 'USS' Cunningham and Tomasz Adamek fought an exciting 12-round war for the IBF cruiserweight championship. Unfortunately for Cunningham, he was on the short-end of a split decision and is currently campaining for a rematch. Photo Credit: Gianluca (Rio) Di Caro/Team ‘USS’ Cunningham

Steve 'USS' Cunningham and Tomasz Adamek fought an exciting 12-round war for the IBF cruiserweight championship. Unfortunately for Cunningham, he was on the short-end of a split decision and is currently campaining for a rematch. Photo Credit: Gianluca (Rio) Di Caro/Team ‘USS’ Cunningham

NEW YORK — When Philadelphia’s Steve ‘USS’ Cunningham fought Poland’s Tomaz Adamek on December 11, 2008, it was the best fight to have occurred in the cruiserweight division in years. Unfortunately for Cunningham, the lost cost him his IBF 200-pound crown.

Cunningham, in pursuit of a rematch with the man who beat him, will be cheering for Adamek (36-1, 24 KOs) to beat No. 1-ranked Jonathan Banks (20-14 KOs). Adamek vs. Banks will collide for the IBF cruiserweight championship on Friday, February 27, at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.

Adamek-Banks will be the main event attraction of Showtime’s hit series “ShoBox: The New Generation” beginning at 11 p.m. ET/PT.

“I’m looking forward to watching this. It should be a good fight,” Cunningham said in a recent statement. “Their styles call for action. Jonathan seems like he can crack. He can take them as well as throw them. Adamek, is tough, he’s a good solid, fighter.”

Former IBF cruiserweight champion Steve Cunningham is hopeful that he'll secure a rematch Tomasz Adamek, which is why he's picking Adamek to defeat Jonathan Banks on February 27, at the Prudential Center. Photo Credit: 
Gianluca (Rio) Di Caro/Team ‘USS’ Cunningham

Former IBF cruiserweight champion Steve Cunningham is hopeful that he'll secure a rematch Tomasz Adamek, which is why he's picking Adamek to defeat Jonathan Banks on February 27, at the Prudential Center. Photo Credit: Gianluca (Rio) Di Caro/Team ‘USS’ Cunningham

Adamek, a two-division champion, has won his last five fights since moving up in weight after dropping the WBC light-heavyweight title to Chad Dawson two years ago.

Adamek will be making the first defense of the IBF title against Banks, a hard-punching 200-pound fighter. Banks has 9 first-round knockouts, but has never stopped anyone past the fifth round.

“The fight could go either way. I know I want the winner of the fight! I’ll be rooting for Tomasz. Yeah, I’d want to fight Jonathan if he wins. But, you know, I really want the rematch, I want my title back and I want to take it back from Tomasz.”

Cunningham (21-1, 11 KOs), who has a record of 2-2 in world title fights including a successful must-see 2007 title defense against Marco Huck (TKO 12), believes that he is still the best cruiserweight in the world.

Steve Cunningham had a mark of 2-2 in world cruiserweight title fights. Perhaps his most exciting victory was his twelfth round TKO of Marco Huck in December 2007. Photo Credit: Gianluca (Rio) Di Caro/Team ‘USS’ Cunningham

Steve Cunningham had a mark of 2-2 in world cruiserweight title fights. Perhaps his most exciting victory was his twelfth round TKO of Marco Huck in December 2007. Photo Credit: Gianluca (Rio) Di Caro/Team ‘USS’ Cunningham

“I believe I am the best cruiserweight in the world,” Cunningham added. “I know the fans saw that in my last fight. I don’t consider that a loss. I feel like I won the fight, but lost the decision. My new motto is Two Time in ’09″, so I am looking forward to the 27th, just as much as they are.”

Cunningham is preparing for a bout with former WBC cruiserweight champion Wayne “Big Truck” Braithwaite.

Adamek-Banks undercard

The undercard will feature fight eight bouts overall including an IBF middleweight title eliminator between Giovanni Lorenzo (26-1, 18 KO’s) against Colombian Dionisio Miranda (19-3-2, 17 KO’s). The winner will be the official No. 1-ranked contender for unbeaten IBF champion Arthur Abraham.

Also, local New Jersey talents that include unbeaten welterweight prospect Henry Crawford (20-0-1, 9 KO’s), former Olympian, Jerson Ravelo (19-3, 12 KO’s), and undefeated super middleweight Patrick Majewski (9-0, 6 KOs) will also be featured.

Tickets are priced reasonably at $38, $53, $78, $103 and $253. They can be purchased at Prudential Center Box Office, online at www.prucenter.com or by calling Ticketmaster at 201-507-8900. The first bout will begin at 8:30 p.m. Doors open at 8 p.m.

Wright vs. Williams in middleweight showdown

Two of the most avoided fighters of their time will lock horns this spring. Former undisputed world junior middleweight champion Winky Wright (51-4-1, 25 KOs) c hallenges former two-division WBO champion Paul Williams (36-1, 27 KOs) .

The bout is a scheduled 12-round middleweight and will commence on Saturday, April 11, from the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, NV. HBO will televise beginning at 10 PM/ET and 7 PM/PT.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve been this motivated and I can’t wait until the bell rings,” Wright said. “Paul is one of the top young fighters in the game, but he hasn’t seen what I’ve seen, or done what I’ve done. This is my time to shine and I won’t let this young fighter steal my spotlight.”

Wright is one of the most avoided fighters of his time. The 37 year-old Wright is a southpaw who has the reputation for throwing lots of punches behind an accurate left jab.

Wright also has a solid defense, which has swayed many fighters out of his path. Wright can go twelve rounds with anyone and, because he’s so difficult to hit and punches from different angles, he makes everybody he face look bad.

Wright has fought a lot of great fighters and beaten his share. Wright owns a pair of decisions wins against Sugar Shane Mosley and Felix Trinidad. Wright has also fought Jermain Taylor, Bernard Hopkins.

Former world champions Harry Simon and Julio Cesar Vazquez were also very solid textbook fighters. Overall, Wright has competed in more than 55 professional bouts having won 51 (91%).

At one point, Wright had to travel to places in Europe like Argentina, France, England, West Africa, and Germany in a span of four years to get fights.

No one who knew of Wright wanted to fight him.

Williams, similar to Wright, is being avoided by the elite fighters of his time for a number of different reasons. He’s a 6-foot-1 southpaw that can throw a lot of punches,

The Augusta, Ga. native is a middleweight that can somehow shrink himself into a welterweight body. Williams has a distinct size and reach advantage over most welterweights.

Williams, to his credit, ended the five-year WBO welterweight title reign of Antonio Margarito in July 2007. Williams also KO’d Carlos Quintana inside one round to regain the WBO 147-pound title before stopping Verno Phillips to claim the interim WBO junior middleweight title last year.

Instead of waiting for big fights at 147, Williams will continue to take fights at 154 and 160.

“I am glad that the fight [with Wright] is on,” Williams said. “This fight has got a big name. Wright has taken the titles from Champions and I’d love to take his reputation. That would add to my legacy.”

“All I know is that everyone says he has got a good defense and nice jab but that doesn’t matter to me – I’m going to get mine in. I’m gonna whoop him and get in there.”

Marquez vs. Diaz headlines Boxing After Dark

A fight with former world lightweight champion Juan Diaz is no easy task. Fighters will also be at a distinct disadvantage when fighting the “Baby Bull” in his hometown of Houston, TX.

Following a hard fought 12-round decision against Michael Katsidis in September, Diaz (34-1-17 KOs) will once again have home field when he meets Mexican legend Juan Manuel Marquez (49-4-1, 36 KOs).

The bout will be the main event broadcast of sn HBO Boxing After Dark on February 28, at the Toyota Center beginning at 10 PM ET/7 PM PT.

To add spice to an already action-packed fight, Marquez-Diaz could be decided for the vacant WBA and WBO lightweight championships. Both titles (along with the IBF belt) were vacated last Friday when Nate Campbell failed to make the 135-pound limit for a mandatory defense against Ali Funeka.

Marquez and Diaz are both ranked No. 2 and 3 respectively by the WBO. Marquez and Diaz are also ranked respectively No. 5 and 6 by the WBA.

Diaz, a former WBA lightweight champion for five years, single handedly unified the WBA/WBO and IBF lightweight titles before losing them to Campbell in a shock decision in March 2008.

Regaining the championships will be no easy task against a future Hall of Fame fighter in Marquez. The 35 year-old Mexican legend has fought Manny Pacquaio twice and Manuel Medina. In his last bout in September, Marquez became the first fighter to stop Joel Casamayor (TKO 11)

Juarez earns fifth opportunity to win a world title

In addition to Marquez vs. Diaz, Rocky Juarez, (28-4, 24 KOs) another hometown Houston favorite, will host unbeaten WBA featherweight champion Chris John (42-0, 22 KOs) of Indonesia.

John is 11-0 in world title fights dating back to September 2003. Each of Juarez’ losses occurred in world title fights (0-4) and was never stopped. Juarez; losses were 12-round decision losses to Marquez, Marco Antonio Barrera (twice), and Humberto Soto.

In September on the Diaz-Katsidis undercard, Juarez scored a sensational eleventh-round TKO of the always tough and dangerous Jorge Barrios.

Maskaev meets Klitschko-Gomez winner

Former WBC heavyweight champion Oleg Maskaev has been promised a title shot. The soon-to-be 40 year-old Russian will await the winner Vitali Klitschko’s WBC heavyweight title defense against mandatory Juan Carlos Gomez on March 21. Maskaev (35-6, 26 KOs) must first survive his 10-round tune-up bout with Rich Boruff (17-2-1, 10 KOs) on March 14.

Maskaev owns two KO victories against former two-time heavyweight champion Hasim Rahman/. In March 2008, Maskaev lost the WBC title in his second defense against Samuel Peter (TKO by 6).

The winner of the Klitschko-Gomez bout will have 120 days to make their mandatory defense against Maskaev.