Adamek looks to get back into title picture

As Tomasz Adamek enters Saturday’s title eliminator against unbeaten Vyacheslav “Czar” Glazkov, it’s fair to speculate whether the rugged veteran is coming or going as a heavyweight contender.

It’s no secret Adamek (49-2, 29 KOs) is navigating the twilight of an exciting 15-year career as he enters Saturday’s crossroads fight (NBC Sports Network, 9 p.m. ET) at the Sands Casino in Bethlehem, Penn.

But the key question staring him in the face after multiple -- and often memorable -- ring wars is simple: At 37, how much does Adamek have left?

On one hand, the former light heavyweight and cruiserweight titlist is 5-0 since being stopped in a 2011 heavyweight title loss to Vitali Klitschko and maintains a glossy résumé featuring just two defeats (he lost his 175-pound title to unbeaten Chad Dawson in 2007).

But digging a little deeper on his recent run exposes a different theory regarding Adamek’s current state. He not only received the benefit of the doubt on the scorecards in contentious 2012 decision wins over Eddie Chambers and Steve Cunningham, he went life-and-death for five rounds before stopping journeyman Travis Walker.

Regardless of which version of Adamek enters the ring against Glazkov (16-0-1, 11 KOs), a victory places the native of Poland, who fights out of Jersey City, N.J., firmly back into the title picture. But despite the must-win scenario he faces on Saturday, Adamek isn’t concerned about what a loss means to his future.

“I never think about losing, because I’m a warrior,” Adamek said. “If you start thinking about it, you better not go to the ring. Every fight is very important. If you want to be a challenger for title fights, you have to win every fight.”

The fight was originally scheduled for last November but was called off days before, when Adamek came down with the flu. What that meant for the typically active Adamek, who fought four times in a nine-month span in 2012, was a long layoff. He will enter Saturday’s fight having fought just once -- an August 2013 decision win over Dominick Guinn -- in the past 16 months.

Adamek’s trainer, Roger Bloodworth, looks at Adamek’s time away as a blessing instead of a curse.

“I’m not concerned,” Bloodworth said. “He’s a fighter with a lot of experience, and if you notice, most of your world champions don’t fight every month. I think as a fighter gets more years on him and gets more experience on him, he needs rest. Rest is as important as work.”

An added wrinkle to the storyline for Saturday’s fight is that Glazkov, 29, not only once served as a sparring partner for Adamek, he reportedly hurt the veteran fighter and gave him all he could handle.

“My feelings is sparring is sparring. A fight is a different story,” Adamek said. “You have small gloves and no hat and many people are watching you. It’s a different game. I’m looking for not what once was in sparring, I’m looking for the future and how I can show my class and my experience and win this fight.”

For a fighter like Adamek, whose best defense has always been his offense, predicting Saturday’s heavyweight tilt will be an all-action affair isn’t much of a stretch. In fact, Adamek was upfront regarding his thoughts on the topic when he said: “I’m ready for war.”

But that’s where the debate regarding Adamek’s true stock comes back into play. As an undersized heavyweight, will his experience and unrivaled toughness be enough to overcome yet another hungry young fighter in a likely action bout?

For Bloodworth, his focus is centered more on Adamek’s evolution away from that of a full-time brawler to more of a well-rounded fighter, who he said is just as good at 37 as he ever was.

“He’s just as dedicated. He wants to learn. He keeps improving,” Bloodworth said. “If you remember when he was fighting at light heavyweight and cruiserweight, he mainly just stood in front of you and threw punches. It was last man standing. I think he showed in his last bout [against Guinn] that he is becoming a boxer and a bit of a puncher. We’ve been practicing that, and we will see what happens [on Saturday].”