Poland's Krzysztof Glowacki was already an underdog when he left his homeland last summer for a fight that represented not only his American debut, but also a larger-than-life opportunity against long-reigning 200-pound champion Marco Huck.
With so much at stake, the last thing Glowacki needed was to suffer an injury. But that’s exactly what occurred when the unbeaten 29-year-old southpaw severely damaged his left arm a week before the title bout.
“It was a left wrist injury, and it happened during the last week of sparring for Marco Huck,” Glowacki said. “Doctors said it was a 7-millimeter break on my hand, and there was a part of the bone that was displaced.”
Already a long shot to keep Huck from his 14th successful 200-pound title defense, Krzysztof Glowacki should have been a dead man walking thanks to the wrist injury.
Only he wasn’t. Far from it.
Glowacki made history on August 14 at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, rising from a vicious sixth-round knockdown to dethrone Huck by 11th-round stoppage, much to the delight of a large, frenzied, frenetic contingent of Polish fans in attendance.
Nobody outside of Glowacki’s inner circle knew about his bum wrist, let alone the excruciating pain he had to endure in the ring because of it.
“Fighting through the injury was a horrifying experience,” Glowacki said. “There was pain and numbness after every punch, but the adrenaline helped.”
Glowacki (25-0, 16 KOs) will return to the East Coast to make his first title defense on April 16 (NBC, 8:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. PT) against former 200-pound champion Steve Cunningham (28-7-1, 13 KOs), doing so less than two hours from the latter’s native Philadelphia and within 30 minutes of the Prudential Center.
The eight-month break between fights represents the longest layoff of Glowacki’s career, but the hiatus was necessitated because of the additional damage he did in the ring against Huck.
“ Fighting through the injury was a horrifying experience. There was pain and numbness after every punch, but the adrenaline helped. ” Krzysztof Glowacki
“It was very frustrating. I wanted to return sooner rather than later, but the doctors were telling me that I couldn’t basically do anything,” said Glowacki, who had surgery in September. “I was running, spending time in the gym, but obviously not boxing.
“But maybe there was a silver lining, because this [ring absence] makes me so unbelievably hungry to be back right now. This time away has made me hungrier than usual to fight again in the United States. I’ve had 110 sparring rounds under my belt and I’m virtually pain-free in my wrist. I’ve felt nothing during sparring or training.”
Glowacki’s heroics won the admiration of Cunningham, who followed Glowacki’s demolition of Huck that night by battling former 175-pound champion Antonio Tarver to a split draw in a heavyweight bout in the main event at the Prudential Center.
“Glowacki was driven. He had that fan base behind him, got up off the canvas, stayed the course and he stopped the champion,” said Cunningham, 39, who had been the last 200-pound fighter to defeat Huck, doing so by 12th-round knockout in December 2007.
“Marco Huck was a champion with a lot of steam behind him who was working on breaking a record and who will be remembered as a great 200-pound champion. A lot of people want to see champions beaten like that.”
After 3½ years and eight fights as a heavyweight, Cunningham will be returning to the division where he had his greatest success and twice won a world title. Like Glowacki, Cunningham hasn’t fought since August 14, and after seeing his opponent’s tenacity firsthand, he understands he’s in for a fight.
“Glowacki’s nothing to look down on,” Cunningham said. “We’re going to come prepared. It’s war time.”
At the same time, Glowacki has no intention of a being a one-and-done champ. He’s determined to once again return to Poland with his title and be revered as somewhat of a king, as was the case last summer.
“My reception back home after the Huck fight was unbelievable,” Glowacki said. “When I arrived from the airport there were people with flowers, and I got a police escort to my hometown. Everybody was so happy.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling to be a world champion. I want to have this feeling again when I return after this fight. I was relatively unknown, but it’s [different] now. People smile at me in the streets. They approach me, and they want to talk boxing. It’s a great feeling to have.”
For complete coverage of Glowacki vs Cunningham, visit our fight page.