By Jim Hague
It’s been over a full year since Tomasz Adamek fought at the Prudential Center, but the Kearny resident and top world heavyweight contender still feels like it’s a place where he belongs.
“It feel like it’s my second home,” said Adamek, who will return to “The Rock” June 16 to take on “Fast” Eddie Chambers in what will essentially be a last chance heavyweight bout for both fighters.
“All my fans like coming to Newark and the fans mean a lot to me,” said Adamek, who made a triumphant return to the ring March 24, when he took a 10-round decision over Nagy Aguilera in Brooklyn, Adamek’s first fight since losing the WBC world heavyweight title fight to Vitali Klitschko in Poland last September. “I fight for my fans and I like fighting at the Prudential Center.”
The 35-year-old Adamek should like fighting at the Prudential Center, considering he’s never lost there. Adamek has posted a 7-0 record at “The Rock” since he first fought Steve Cunningham for the IBF cruiserweight title Dec. 11, 2008, a fight that was considered Ring Magazine’s “Fight of the Year” for that year.
Adamek’s fights at the Prudential Center have drawn thousands of Polish fans who follow his every move, singing songs, waving banners and scarves all night, giving the place an influx of energy and excitement.
“I’m very excited to come back to the Prudential Center,” Adamek said at a press conference last Thursday to promote the upcoming card in June. “I know I’ll be ready for this fight.”
Adamek took six months off after losing the heavyweight title fight to Klitschko. He returned to fight Aguilera last month, a fight that some critics were not favorable of Adamek’s performance.
Adamek defended the way he fought against journeyman Aguilera.
“He was very tough,” Adamek said. “I thought I fought very well. I hit him with so many shots. I hit him 260 times. I thought I could have ended it in the third and fourth rounds. I thought I could have knocked him down. The fight was a very interesting one for everyone. Aguilera was ready for my fight. He was in good shape. I wasn’t worried about the way I fought. I won the fight and I now move on. My mind is very good.”
Adamek, who now owns a 45-2 professional record with 28 knockouts, faces a guy in Chambers who is very similar. They are both basically undersized heavyweights who now fight around the same weight of 220 pounds.
Like Adamek, Chambers got his start in boxing at a lighter weight. The Pittsburgh native and Philadelphia resident was first a light heavyweight, then moved to cruiserweight before becoming a heavyweight in 2004.
The 30-year-old Chambers moved his way up the ranks, won his first 30 professional fights and earned the right to fight for the WBO and IBF heavyweight titles against Wladimir Klitschko on March 20, 2010 in Germany. Chambers lost via a 12th round knockout.
So both fighters have had a chance to fight for the title against one of the Klitschko brothers and both suffered setbacks.
Chambers takes the Adamek fight after not being able to answer the bell for either of his last two scheduled fights. He suffered a back injury that forced a postponement of a fight against contender Tony Thompson in 2011 and in January, Chambers was supposed to highlight the first of the new NBC Sports Network “Fight Night” boxing cards, but he pulled out of meeting Sergei Liakhovich with a rib injury.
If he is able to enter the ring, Chambers will fight Adamek, his first fight since February 11, 2011.
“I’ve dealt with this before,” Chambers said, when asked about his credibility. “I know I need this fight. I know I need to do well. I’m not worried about that at all. I have a positive attitude coming into this fight. The injuries happened because I was training hard. I’m not in any fear of making the fight. Both injuries came from overworking. I know that now. I’m not worried about injuries.”
The Adamek-Chambers fight will also be featured on the new NBC Sports Network’s “Fight Night” series. NBC Sports Network chief Gary Quinn said at the press conference that the new sports network is dedicated to boxing.
“The ratings, especially our last card (the one that featured Adamek and Aguilera from Brooklyn) exceeded our expectations,” Quinn said. “So much so that we’ve added another date in September and we’re looking to add more in 2013.”
Quinn said that his network is excited to have Adamek back for another card.
“He’s a big draw,” Quinn said. “We’re looking to see the Polish Army come out in full force and show that nationally.”
Both fighters know that they desperately need a victory in order to keep their hopes alive for another heavyweight title fight down the road.
“You couldn’t put two more deserving fighters in the ring,” Chambers said. “We have similar styles, technique and overall ability. I’m 30, not 40, so I don’t look at it as my last chance. Every fight for me now is a crossroads fight. I honestly don’t want to say it’s my last chance, but if I can’t compete for the heavyweight title, then I don’t want it. I think it’s an equal opportunity for both of us. You get two fighters of the same size, same punch, same speed and it makes for a very exciting fight.”
Also on the card is promising heavyweight Bryant Jennings, undefeated at 13-0, and opponent Steve Collins, who has a 25-1 record.
Tickets for the card, presented by Main Events in association with Peltz Boxing, Goosen Tutor Promotions and Ziggy Promotions, headed by Kearny resident Ziggy Rosalski, are currently on sale through Ticketmaster and the Prudential Center’s box office.
Adamek said that he will begin training full-time for the June 16 fight this week with respected trainer Roger Bloodworth.
“I just spent a week at Roger’s house (outside St. Louis) working on technique to get ready for this fight,” Adamek said. “My mind is very good. God gives me power, speed and a strong mind. Every fighter wants to fight as often as possible. I’m comfortable with fighting again in June. This is my job. My job is in the ring. I like to fight often.”
And Adamek knows that he has to win.
“If you take a tough fight, there’s a chance you can lose,” Adamek said. “I’m not thinking about that. I want to be the champion and if I want that, I have to win every fight. I’m not a young man. I have to win every fight. I knew that this was going to be a tough fight. I’m not concerned. I’m a tough man. I’m a mountain boy.”
Although Adamek has exchanged life in the mountains of Poland for the hills of Kearny, he’s ready for the challenge again of fighting before his loyal fans in New Jersey.