NEWARK, N.J. – Heavyweight contender Tomasz Adamek continued his pursuit of a title fight by defeating Michael Grant by unanimous decision Saturday night at the Prudential Center.
The victory enabled the 33-year-old Adamek, the former IBF cruiserweight champion, to improve to 42-1 overall and 5-0 as a heavyweight. Adamek also has 27 knockouts.
"I was ready for a tough fight and ready to go 12 rounds," Adamek said. "I was prepared very well for the fight. I am upset because for the first time in my career, I got cut (over his left eye). I'm not happy about that, but I'm happy about the win."
The 38-year-old Grant, who once lost to Lennox Lewis for the heavyweight title in 2000, won his last eight fights before Saturday night. The loss dropped Grant's record to 46-4 overall.
Adamek was giving away four inches and almost 60 pounds to the larger Grant, but it didn't seem to have that much of an effect, as Adamek controlled the fight from the opening moments.
Adamek won on all three judges cards. Judge Henry Grant had it 118-110, John Poturaj had it 118-111 and Robert Grasso scored it 117-111.
Adamek, a native of Gilowice, Poland, who now lives in Kearny, N.J., had most of the crowd support. Most of the 10,972 fans in attendance cheered wildly and waved red and white Polish flags in support, rhythmically chanting Adamek's name and "Polska! Polska!"
The first round featured the two boxers feeling each other out. Adamek scored with a late flurry in the closing seconds of the round and as they closed out the round, the two boxers were in a clinch that caused both to fall to the canvas after the bell.
"I don't know what happened there," Grant said. "I thought I hit him good, then we both went down and the bell rang. It seemed like any time I did anything to hurt him, the bell would ring. The only thing that Adamek had on me was speed. He was moving in and out. I knew that beforehand that it would be difficult to face him. He sustained and endured. He was on that bicycle and I had a tough time trying to keep up with him."
In the second round, Adamek displayed a right jab that led to a left hook counter. Adamek scored again at the second round bell with a vicious left hook.
"I definitely didn't expect that left hook," Grant said.
Grant rallied in the third round with a big left hook that staggered the Polish contender, but Adamek recovered and countered with several left-handed jabs.
After an uneventful fourth round, Adamek continued the scoring barrage in the fifth with an assortment of left-handed jabs. He was clearly the quicker and more aggressive fighter in the round.
Grant received a warning for a push to the back of Adamek's head in the sixth round. Grant seemed to stun Adamek in the closing seconds of the round with a stiff right, causing the Polish fighter's knees to buckle a bit. It was Grant's best chance of the fight.
"I thought I could get him," Grant said. "But he's a tough guy."
Adamek recovered nicely in the seventh round, unleashing a series of left hands that kept Grant backing away. He hit Grant with a strong left that staggered the Philadelphia native.
Grant drew blood over Adamek's left eye in the eighth round and was warned again for pushing Adamek's head down. In the ninth round, Adamek drew blood from Grant's mouth that seemed to bother the bigger fighter, forcing him to breathe with it open.
Adamek then kept Grant at bay over the final three rounds to secure the victory, although Grant desperately tried to get to Adamek in the final round to no avail. Grant chased Adamek around the ring throughout the final round and hurt Adamek twice with overhand rights, but could not deliver the big blow.
"I knew he was going down, but I also knew he was running," Grant said. "I knew he was hurt. He was bouncing around like a pinball. It was a cat-and-mouse game that he won."
Since Adamek suffered the three-inch gash over his eye, it's unsure when he will fight again.
"This was a very big test for me," Adamek said. "I need to rest now for about three weeks, then I'll go back into the gym. Maybe the fight didn't look as good as people would like, but I'm very happy with the performance."