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Adamek marches onward toward heavyweight title shot in 2011


NEWARK, N.J. -- Tomasz Adamek just keeps on chugging.

In an era when most top-flight boxers fight no more than twice in a year, the former light heavyweight and cruiserweight champion improved to 4-0 since New Year's Day with a fifth-round TKO of Vinny Maddalone at the Prudential Center on Thursday night.

Following what's proven to be a successful model since launching his heavyweight campaign in October 2009, Adamek was matched against a limited opponent who stood little chance of derailing his march toward a shot at one of the three heavyweight title-holders.

Adamek's apparent strategy was to use the jab to keep Maddalone at bay while working downstairs to the body to bring down the Queens native's guard. The jab was very effective in thwarting the bullrushes of Maddalone, who seemed to grow frustrated at being unable to get at an opponent with vastly superior boxing skills.

Adamek (43-1, 28 KOs) was in total control when he brought the crowd to their feet in the fourth round with a strong combination that wobbled Maddalone. Adamek went after Maddalone and finished the round strong.

Less than one minute into the fifth, Adamek landed a right-left combination that left Maddalone flat on his back and sent the crowd into a frenzy. Maddalone staggered to his feet only to absorb more punishment. Adamek began looking to referee Steve Smoger to stop the fight as punch after punch landed with nothing coming back. Maddalone's corner clearly felt the same way as they scaled the apron to stop the fight the 2:17 mark.

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"He was a warrior, a good puncher," Adamek said afterward. "He was smart and strong but must be faster. Speed is power and I was faster and stronger. He was looking bad and the referee should have stopped the fight."

"I feel good," said Maddalone (33-7, 24 KOs), who was hoping for an upset to land a bigger fight. "It was a short left I never saw that knocked me down. I didn't want the fight stopped. I was trying to set him up with overhand right and get him trade a little more. My hat's off to him, he fought a good and smart performance."

When asked what was next, Adamek was non-comittal. "Zyggi is the boss," he said, referring to advisor Zyggi Rozalski. "Ask Zyggi."

Adamek, who turned 34 on Dec. 1, is hoping to become the mandatory challenger for IBF champion Wladimir Klitschko sometime in 2011. But all signs point to one more tune-up fight -- most likely in March -- before the Polish expat challenges for the title.

Prospective opponents for the March date include Denis Boytsov, Roy Jones Jr., and Jean Marc Mormeck. Certainly Boystov is the most attractive matchup from a fan's standpoint: like Adamek, the 24-year-old Russian is undefeated at heavyweight and universally regarded as a Top 10 contender in the division.

In the meantime, Adamek can reflect on a busy 2010 -- and the exclamation point Maddalone provided.

"The knockout was a perfect shot," Adamek said. "He came to me every time but my defense was too good."