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December 22, 2012

Scott Shaffer @ ringside

Tomasz Adamek W12 Steve Cunningham: At the Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem, Pensylvania, Tomasz Adamek won a split decision over Steve Cunningham, a decision with which most ringside observers, including Boxingtalk, disagreed. Having been denied perhaps the signature win of his career, a dejected Cunningham broke down in tears at the post-fight press conference. "What else do I have to do? Everybody can't knock everybody out. I boxed his brains out today," said the former two-time cruiserweight champion. "Its sad and disappointing." Judge Tom Miller scored it 115-113 for Cunningham but was overruled by Dave Greer, who had it 116-112 for Adamek and Deborah Barnes, who had it 115-113, also for Adamek. (Due to someone else's faulty addition and sloppy handwriting, ring announcer Michael Buffer twice incorrectly announced Barnes' score as 115-115 and 115-112).  Boxingtalk scored it 115-113 for Cunningham. Most ringside media had it even wider for Cunningham. Compubox Punchstats also favored Cunningham, 209 punches landed to 169. 

Adamek saw nothing wrong with the scoring, insisting that he landed the harder punches, and that Cunningham ran rather than fought.

This was a competitive fight, and while the draw that Michael Buffer originally announced was dubious enough, the win for Adamek was supported by very few, if any, neutral observers.  Although Barnes had it a round closer than Greer's absurd eight rounds to four for Adamek, both their cards were equally incompetent: Barnes scored the twelfth round, Adamek's best, 10-9 for Cunningham. Scoring that round for Cunningham is incompetent at best, and at worst could be seen as a deliberate attempt to camoflauge a biased scorecard after she had already given Adamek the majority of rounds. 
The heavyweight fight lacked the fireworks of Adamek's 2008 cruiserweight victory over Cunningham, but it was an exciting figh nonetheless. Cunningham, never a big puncher at cruiserweight, fought an almost perfectly disciplined fight for the first eleven rounds. Outweighed by twenty pounds, he fought with his guard high to protect his chin, and used his long reach and boxing skills to keep Adamek off balance.  Only in the twelfth round did Cunningham fight Adamek's fight and Adamek clearly got the better of the final three minutes. However, the twelfth round did not dictate the outcome, because somehow Adamek entered that round with a three-point lead on Greer and Barnes' cards.

Next up for Adamek is probably an IBF final eliminator against German-based Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev. Without the leverage of a win over Adamek, Cunningham will spend his Christmas and New Year's hoping his promoter Main Events will find him a good fight for 2013. "Real men do cry," summed up Cunningham as he wiped away his tears.

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