Fury Overcomes Crisis vs. USS Cunningham

By Matt McGrain on April 20, 2013
Fury Overcomes Crisis vs. USS Cunningham
It must be said that Tyson Fury defeated Cunningham purely on size rather than on skill.

Perhaps the best way to summarize the evening for Fury is to say he had a great American debut but one that raised as many questions as it answered…

Tyson Fury showed great heart and intensity this afternoon to overcome an excellent Steve Cunningham in the seventh round in The Theater at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

Fury, who has spoken often and loudly in the run up to this fight, promised to “smash Cunningham’s face in” having earlier denoted Cunningham nothing more than a “stepping stone.” Fury came out jabbing whilst Cunningham moved back and to his left, the forty-pound weight advantage enjoyed by Fury very apparent. Moving in with that jittery style that seems born of early nervous energy, the Englishman was looking for the body as USS tried to shift and feint his way inside. Outreached and the shorter by distance he signalled early an intent to jab to the body, and get his right hand over the top, but in closing the two became an immediate mess of limbs and styles as Cunningham tried to snipe sharp punches through Fury’s guard whilst the bigger man tried to wade in bigger blows whilst leaning. 

Warned for stepping up to Cunningham and pushing him after the bell to end the first, Fury drove straight out and at his man at the bell for the second and as they moved to the ropes, walked straight onto the huge overhand right USS had twice warned him about in the first. Fury hit the deck, hard, and for a moment it looked as though he might not rise as he pressed both gloves to his ears as if to quell the some shrill warning siren only he could hear. Blinking, he was up at seven but looked disorganized. Cunningham closed but ran into the problem he would meet for the rest of the night: Fury’s 6-foot-9-inch, 250-pound which he used to lean on and tie up Cunningham who nevertheless generated two opportunities for punches that Fury had to ride. A jab and hook to the body to close the round left the big man looking momentarily distressed as he returned to his corner, although his head appeared to have cleared. 

Overhyped at the opening of the first, Fury now boxed more uncertainly, and after landing a hard right hand at the opening of the third he sought to close and maul. Looking tired, he shipped a hard body punch before drawing his first warning for holding. Boxing aggressively, Cunningham had found a way to keep Fury in the danger zone he had to inhabit on order to make it possible for him to land his booming right, but he was wielding a double edged sword. When they came together the mess was extraordinary as there was just too much Fury to go around; Cunningham couldn’t spread the bigger man or move him so he had to support the Mancunian’s entire weight.

Taking the third and the fourth on my card, it was the American’s body punching that were making the scoring difference but his ability to endure the pace even in a fight he was winning seemed drawn into question. Despite his uncertainty, Fury was landing his own body blows and occasional jab and the combination of size and intensity appeared to be tiring Cunningham badly. Having proven his heart, Fury also seemed to be demonstrating an impressive engine, although he drew another, apparent final warning for holding from referee Eddie Cotton. Cunningham got back on his bike, stabbing with a jab which was being subsidized by superiority in both speed and timing but that was also being swamped by flesh and pressure.

Early in the fifth, Fury was correctly deducted a point, ostensibly for a head butt in reality for persistent fouling. Pushing his man down at every opportunity, and doing decent beltline work, Fury looked disorganized but driven whilst Cunningham for the first time appeared planless. Fighting back along the ropes he was hurt by a right hand and for the first time appeared groggy, although Fury preferred a leaning, swamping mess to punches in the follow-up. Fighting hard in the ring, USS was pushed back to the ropes where he had to absorb sharp uppercuts in a future echo of the knockout in a round Fury would have won were it not for the point deduction. At the beginning of the sixth, the giant was ring center, roaring at the crowd for support whilst Cunningham raised himself only wearily. Essentially the superior boxer, he seemed in this round too small for Fury who reclaimed a little of the fluidity in punching, the change of style after the knockdown had robbed him of.

The seventh opened with Cunningham doing the better work, landing superior punches and showing great economy as Fury used vast quantities of energy for very little return but remained by far the bigger man. Good conditioning was key in keeping him sharp as the American inevitably became more and more ragged and when he hurt Cunningham to the body on his own short rope and followed it up and the smaller man looked to hold, Fury seized the big man’s privilege and pushed him off and back; Cunningham tried to cover up but a Fury uppercut found him. Mauling forwards and into the Cunningham corner he moved the smaller man to his own left and came square to crash home with a devastating right hook. Brave, proud, and never before stopped, USS drew himself together for what looked like an assault on his blankness but the light went from his eyes as he tried to raise himself; a shake of the head signalled the end and Cotton told ten. 

Perhaps the best way to summarize the evening for Fury is to say he had a great American debut but one that raised as many questions as it answered. Fury was ranked at #8 by the Transnational Boxing Board going into tonight’s engagement and has done both his ranking and his standing no harm with an exciting win viewed on free-to-air television in both the UK and the US. It must be said though that he won purely on size rather than on skill and that he was nearly knocked out by a former cruiserweight who was outboxing him despite the urgency and aggression with which he attacked.

Fury’s road to Wladimir Klitschko, owner of the majority of boxing’s heavyweight straps, is currently blocked by Kubrat Pulev. Pulev, although a harder hitter than Cunningham as well as naturally larger, is still considerably the shorter of the two men. Fury may be able to size and grit his way past the Bulgarian, but that is far from a given; the fight is an intriguing one.

Meanwhile, on Fury’s home shore a busy night of boxing saw the Transnational Boxing Board’s #5 light-heavyweight contender Nathan Cleverly (now 26-0) beat the unranked Robin Krasniqi (39-3) in a wide unanimous decision. Other highlights saw southpaw super-featherweight prospect Liam Walsh (now 14-0) outpoint former strapholder and a clearly washed-up Scott Harrison (drops to 27-3) over ten rounds and British super-flyweight champion Paul Butler, now 11-0, enhancing his reputation as a possible future world champion by lifting the Commonwealth title against Yaqub Kareem who slips to 12-3.

Perhaps most intriguing of all was the return of Dereck Chisora, who reintroduce himself to a British scene blown wide open by the shocking defeat of David Price with a dull nine-round TKO of Argentine journeyman Hector Avila. There was a time when Chisora was considered worthy of a rematch with Fury after he dropped a decision to the giant in 2011, but now they clearly inhabit different stratospheres. Whether Fury is to revisit Chisora’s level or continue to move in higher circles remains to be seen.

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Tyson Fury vs Steve Cunningham FULL FIGHT KO HIGH QUALITY 20.04.2013 VERDICT

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  1. Don from Prov 02:12pm, 04/25/2013

    Fury elbows his way to the front of the crowd

  2. The Fight Film Collector 01:58pm, 04/24/2013

    I’m with David and Clarence.  Watching this fight, it occurred to me that we might just as well eliminate weight classes.  If any fight is a lesson that size matters in boxing, it was this one.  Fury is a competent fighter, but Cunningham was by far the superior the boxer in almost every skill department the sport required, but every asset he had was nullified by Fury’s size.  Does anyone believe that Fury would have beat Cunningham if they both weighed 210? 

    Boxing needs to revise the top end divisions and level the battlefield.  At 260 Fury was 19% heavier than Cunningham.  This is nearly the 17% difference between Manny Pacquiao and Chad Dawson.  Compare that to Mayweather v Hopkins at 12%, and Mayweather v Ward at 8%, or Mayweather v Martinez at a mere 4% difference.

  3. johnny yuma 08:22pm, 04/23/2013

    I dont give Tyson much of a chance if he steps in with either of the Klits or other top2 contenders fighting this Sat.

  4. Don from Prov 08:04am, 04/23/2013

    I’d like to see Fury face the real Tyson—

    Decapitation.  But the young man is pleasingly obnoxious.
    And he he can foul like hell.

  5. David Ball 02:23pm, 04/22/2013

    Hughie Fury looked to have the much better skill set and he is only a teen, his back acne I found disturbing tho, looked like Golota when he was juicing. Tyson’s gangly form reminded me of Gerry Cooney.

  6. Paul 02:55am, 04/22/2013

    For people from the U.S., it’s important to note that travellers/gypsies (in the UK/Ireland) are largely our equivalent of your ‘carnies’. And within their communities violence is part of life in many ways (sport, settling disputes and so on). So to criticise Fury’s manner or behaviour is really pointless. The way he is is exactly what he should be. I felt bad for Cunningham. You could see he quit (and rightly so I think). Fury definitely looked confused throughout most of the fight. To see Fury face an opponent with Cunnigham’s skills, but in a much larger frame (nullifying Fury’s boring game plan of leaning) is all the public deserves now. Not just to see (the annoying) Fury get handled, but also to perhaps even see Fury prevail and show how much of a tough S.O.B he is.

  7. Clarence George 11:58am, 04/21/2013

    Many’s the time, Irish, I’ve held her candelabra in my hand.  Your mind out of the gutter, please—it’s an actual candelabra that she wears upon her head.


  8. Bob 08:24am, 04/21/2013

    A game effort by Cunningham, who lost only because of the size disparity. I doubt if either Klitschko is losing any sleep over the thought of facing Fury. In fact, it may prove to be an easy mega-bucks fight for either, especially Wlad.

  9. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 06:17am, 04/21/2013

    Clarence George-“Belly dancer”....is there a more erotic art form extant?...it must be intoxicating just being in the same room with your “friend”...just the thought….in fact there’s a mizmar being played in my noggin at this very moment!

  10. Clarence George 02:38am, 04/21/2013

    Neither fair nor accurate:  While Herman Munster could be a clod, he had bags of charm.

  11. Clarence George 02:35am, 04/21/2013

    I agree, Mike.  But Cunningham ain’t Louis.  Though much better than Fury, he had neither the skills nor the power to counter the big man’s interpretation of boxing as leaning-upon. 

    I also agree with Robert that the state of the heavyweight division (both current and future) is deplorable.  It’s nothing but weight, size, and brute strength—more appropriate for arm-wrestling than boxing.

    And Fury is indeed a clod, whose “charisma” I find undetectable.  I can’t say, Irish, that he reminds me of Gypsy Rose Lee (you slay me), Lili St. Cyr, or any other burlesque queen.  Fred Gwynne as Herman Munster is more like it. 

    Speaking of Gypsy, Irish, you may be interested to know that I used to be friends with Otto Preminger’s daughter, and that I’m currently friendly with one of our premier belly dancers.  Unfortunately for you, she’s not in her 70s.

  12. angel 02:00am, 04/21/2013

    Good fight ,excellent for network t v.I was impressed by Fury.He got up after taking a perfect shot to put up an aggressive,mean performance and destroyed his opponent.The U.S.S is a good fighter and at 210 bigger than most of the greatest heavyweight champs in history. Fury is improving with every fight ,at 24 he is younger than anybody in the top 40s.I think he is a world class prospect and if he stays active and improving I would not be surprised if by 2015 he becomes world champ.

  13. mike 01:46am, 04/21/2013

    “The one thing that a Dempsey and a Joe Louis did not have was a cruiserweight division, what this perhaps better prepared them for were to face bigger men if that was the opponent before them.” Nearly all the men that Dempsey and Louis fougnt were cruiserweights or less. In their day there were only occasional men over 200 lbs. and 250 lbs was like 300 lbs. today.

    Kubrat Pulev against Fury is intriguing. My first reaction is that Pulev will have no trouble with Fury. However, I think Fury strayed from his game plan in the Cunningham fight. After the first he didn’t use his height and reach, which he demonstrated he can do in the Kevin Johnson fight. Fury went to brawling on the inside because he just wanted to KO Cunningham in order to live up to his hype. Fury is a pretty good inside fighter so it paid off for him. The fight reminded me of Riddick Bowe against Herbie Hide. Hide outboxed Bowe initially but the constant pressure of Bowe was just too much in the end and Bowe closed the distance and KOed Hide.

  14. Mike Casey 01:43am, 04/21/2013

    A 254lb man fighting a 210lb man. I give Fury every credit for fighting back and getting the job done, but he was knocked down and knocked half senseless in that second round. I thought such nasty things couldn’t happen to these new age, high-tech goliaths? Does anyone seriously believe that Joe Louis would have let Fury hear the bell for round three?

  15. KenM 08:43pm, 04/20/2013

    Kind of impressed by the determination & especially the stamina of Fury, not sure about much else however.
    Very dirty fighter, & a lot of those fouls were not only blatant but had a major effect on the fight. A Joe Cortez kind of referee might well of disqualified him, & quite a few others would not let him get away with so much.

    Personally wouldn’t be worrying about how he goes against the Klitchkos, as I think ‘old’ Tony Thompson (if he gets past Price again) gives him a bad lesson, & Fury probably ends up fouling out.
    Also think the smaller ‘Twilight’ version of Chagaev has a good chance of stopping him…

  16. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 08:35pm, 04/20/2013

    Which reminds me…for some crazy reason when I see Fury fight I think about Gypsy Rose Lee!

  17. Robert Ecksel 05:46pm, 04/20/2013

    I thought Fury made Primo Carnera look like Nureyev. If he’s the future of the heavyweight division, I fear the heavyweight division doesn’t have much of a future.

  18. Clarence George 05:20pm, 04/20/2013

    I don’t see much of a future for Cunningham, but the same is true of Fury, despite today’s win. I don’t think he can take Pulev, let alone either of the Klitschkos.

  19. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 05:09pm, 04/20/2013

    Matt McGrain-Great report but….yikes!....this article could be titled “How to Lose by Beating the Shit Out of Your Opponent”.

  20. Critical Beatdown 05:04pm, 04/20/2013

    I enjoyed watching Cunningham momentarily check Fury but it was not enough to save us from having to hear him sing after the fight. I’m confused about Tyson, whether to like him for his showmanship, stiff jab, and heavy hands, or to loath him for often being more of a douchebag than a gentleman.

  21. nicolas 04:24pm, 04/20/2013

    Fury is sure not ready for the Klitschkos yet, though I think this win will probably put him way up there, perhaps just behind Povetkin.  I would suggest that a fight with Adamak would be very intriguing to see how he does against that heavier opponent. Fury won because of his heavier weight, and perhaps the fact that a Cunningham has fought as a cruiserweight, and his perhaps having his best years behind him, he could not be up to the task. When I got to watch the fight was from the third round on. I thought about those who tell me that Jack Dempsey despite his being below 190 pounds that he is one of the 5 greatest heavyweights. The one thing that a Dempsey and a Joe Louis did not have was a cruiserweight division, what this perhaps better prepared them for were to face bigger men if that was the opponent before them. Cruiserweights today perhaps do not have that skill, or even mindset, even if they come at around between 200 and 210.

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