Adamek lifts Polish spirits with victory over Arreola

Boxing’s heavyweight division, a general bore to the public for several years with the dominance of the Klitschko brothers, finally got an old-time, rock ‘em, sock ‘em show Saturday night.

And Poland got a winner.

Tomasz Adamek, the light heavyweight moving up to take on the real big boys, spoiled the dreams of Riverside’s Chris Arreola at the Ontario Citizens Business Bank Arena.

The victory came in a majority decision. Two judges had Adamek winning -- one of them with a ridiculous 117-111 margin -- and the third had it a draw.

The likely prize for the winner of this 12-round brawl is a match against Wladimir Klitschko, the younger brother of Vitali, and an opponent who, like his brother, is similar to hitting the Rock of Gibraltar. The sad truth is that the Ukranian brothers, who have three of the four major heavyweight titles, are so good and so tactically sound that they have become an almost insurmountable mountain to climb. Wladimir had said before this fight that he would look long and hard at its winner.

That would be Adamek, who may be pondering the phrase, “be careful what you wish for.”

Adamek was gracious in victory, and well he should have been. Arreola gave him everything he could handle, while taking a surgical beating.

“No question, this was the toughest fight I’ve ever had,” Adamek said. “And Chris is the best fighter I’ve ever fought.

"[This victory] is why I believe I can be world champion.”

As close as this fight was, not to mention exciting, Arreola did not disagree with the decision. Nor did he disagree with the assessment of his trainer and close friend, Henry Ramirez, who said he thought they had led early and perhaps Arreola had tired in the end. Most ringside observers would agree.

“I thought I had him in the fifth round,” Arreola said. “Then I hurt my left hand. Hurt it again in the ninth and tenth.”

Arreola also said that he suffered several head butts, some of them “buzzing” him a bit.

“The guy has a hard head,” he said. “I look like [expletive] Shrek now.”

There are those who might respond that he already did. But that’s another story for another day.

Whether this ended Arreola’s dream of becoming heavyweight champion -- as well as the dream of his fans hoping for the first heavyweight champion of Mexican descent -- remains to be seen. He lost, but acquitted himself well. No lack of heart and grit from the big guy with the tattooed body.

The fight boiled down to a match of strength versus speed. Arreola kept coming forward, lunging, occasionally connecting in spectacular fashion. Adamek kept dancing, countering, scoring heavily with a compact left jab and short left hook that left Arreola battered.

Arreola, who weighed in at 250œ pounds Friday after saying he would come in around 239, was the hunter. Adamek, the hunted, was once light-heavyweight champion. He weighed in at 217, and has had only a handful of fights in the heavyweight division.

He countered every Arreola lunge with four- and five-punch combinations, and in the end, that was enough surgery to convince the judges that the hunted was also the winner.

The victory presented a nice moment for Polish fans, who haven’t had many of late. Their president died recently in a plane crash, and then the volcanic ash that covered much of Europe kept many of the world’s leaders from getting to the funeral.

Adamek, as much of a Polish sports rock star as there is right now, was scheduled to meet with Poland’s president sometime after this fight.

Before the fight, Adamek, who moved to New Jersey two years ago but retains a huge Polish following, took note of his birth country’s plight.

“I am connected in grief with the people in Poland,” he said.

Saturday night, he helped raise some Polish spirits with as gritty performance as there has been, in as hotly contested a battle as there has been, in years in the heavyweight division.