by Damon Ealy
“Adamek vs. Golota: The Polish Fight of the Century.” To almost anyone else who follows pro boxing, it’s a chuckled-at and forgotten headline on a boxing news site. It’s a curiosity, as Andrew Golota’s career has been to most boxing fans over the last decade or so.
And if “many Polish boxing fans are thirsting” for an Andrew Golota-Tomasz Adamek bout in 2009, as author T.K. Stewart says in the piece, they ought to forget about it and drink some haloperidol instead, because they’re delusional.
It might be a huge event, even a sizable payday for Golota and Adamek. But the only real winner would be the financier. That’d be Zygmunt Solorz-Zak, the only apparent motivating influence behind this conceived matchup. He’s an investor, not a matchmaker, and the only connection he has to boxing is that it airs on the television network that he owns.
But Solorz-Zak is wealthy and powerful enough to put this bout together. He’s so paid that he’s been on Forbes magazine’s list of the world’s richest people in 2006 and ’07, so he’s got the means to put together other “dream” bouts, like Rambo versus the Terminator—or Voltron against a tyrannosaurus. But if he really is “of the opinion that it’s a fight that all of Poland could be proud of,” he’s quite wrong. It may be a bit of a stretch as an analogy, but if in 1988 Donald Trump had used his resources to make a Joe Frazier-Mike Tyson bout at the Taj Mahal, it’d have been good for Trump and almost certainly bad for boxing, bad for Tyson and Frazier, bad for anyone with a sense of taste.
I’ve followed Golota’s career as a fan since the “Tuesday Night Fights” era. Why? I’ve never tried to figure it out and never wanted to. The fact that I’m from Polish stock is a good enough reason (or call it an excuse) for me. Fanship kind of defies that kind of explanation. But it’s a rooting interest I’ve taken a fair amount of grief for, mostly good-natured. The fact that most sportswriters and fans treat Golota as an outsider at best (and a pariah at worst) only makes me appreciate him more.
In the last five years, I’ve seen him outwork and outclass John Ruiz in a WBA title fight, dropping him twice on the way to a unanimous-decision loss in which I’m convinced the judges had it out for Golota. I saw him take the best “Clones Colossus” Kevin McBride had to give before beating him down at Madison Square Garden. (Passing Golota outside on the sidewalk afterward was a hem-of-his-garment moment for me.) I saw him grind out a wide UD win against Mike Mollo, the WBA’s eighth-ranked heavyweight, two weeks after he turned 40, his eye swollen into an ill bubble.
All of these bouts happened after experts had decided that Golota a combination head case/coward.
When it comes to boxing, the brains of sportswriters tend to operate on autopilot, so when Golota retired in his corner after the first round against Ray Austin last November, citing an arm injury, the Internet headlines were quick and predictable: “Golota quits again,” etc. Dan Rafael was more than dismissive. He took an opportunity to get all puffed up:
“Andrew Golota quit after the first round of his fight last week against Ray Austin. Rarely do I ever question the heart of a fighter because it’s tough just to get in the ring in the first place, but Golota has the heart the size of a pea. He’s made a career of quitting.”
Golota’s professional lows are well known, well documented, and very well remembered. But he’s shown way more heart, guts, and smarts in his professional career than he’s given credit for. And he’s simply the most accomplished Polish professional boxer in history.
Tomasz Adamek has the potential to replace Golota. Some would say that by being a titleholder he’s already done that. Either way, he wouldn’t gain much by beating Golota now. Not when Golota is 41 years old, with a body that’s beginning to betray him. Not when more relevant challenges exist for Adamek in the form of Chad Dawson, Bernard Hopkins, and Steve Cunningham. A win over Hopkins in 2009 is a legacy-builder for Adamek. A win over Golota, no matter how it came, wouldn’t hold much more significance than an exhibition. And even if Golota summoned everything he has left, he might not be able to engage in a competitive bout with Adamek. His body might not allow it.