Steve Cunningham Goes Home

By Dennis Taylor on February 2, 2016
Steve Cunningham Goes Home
The quiet truth? Cunningham was really pretty amazing in boxing's unlimited weight class.

“After the fight I was like, ‘They called that a draw?’ The guy threw 400 punches, and I threw more than 700…”

The boxing artistry of Steve Cunningham might have been a lousy fit for the heavyweight division, who tested some big, tough, hombres during his eight-fight stay, but wound up on the wrong side of some decisions that were, perhaps, in the eye of the beholder.

The Philly native told The Ringside Boxing Show on Sunday that he’s done trying to gain weight, and he’s headed back to the cruiserweight division, where he is two-time royalty.

“My next fight will be a big one, and it will be in the cruiserweight division,” Cunningham said. “I was never a heavyweight. The most I ever weighed was 210 for the Fury fight, and that’s because I drank a gallon of milk before I stepped on the scale.”

Size can be beaten — that’s what he learned from his trainer, Brother Naazim Richardson, who saw Cunningham as a man wielding razor blades against opponents bearing broadswords. “A thousand little cuts, and the man with the broadsword bleeds to death,” Cunningham said.

And Cunningham doesn’t sound like he’s complaining when he expresses confusion over whatever the judges saw in August, when his fight with Antonio Tarver was called a split draw. Do the math, he says.

“After the Tarver fight I was like, ‘Wow … they called that a draw?’ The guy threw 400 punches, and I threw more than 700. He landed maybe three or four good shots in 12 rounds. I don’t see how anybody can earn a draw with that little bit of output against a guy with a high volume of punches.”

Then, by the way, Tarver tested dirty after the fight (for the second time in three years).

The Tarver draw came just five months after Cunningham’s similarly perplexing loss to Vyacheslav Glazkov in Montreal. (“Totally bogus,” says Steve.)

The quiet truth? Cunningham was really pretty amazing in boxing’s unlimited weight class. Tomasz Adamek needed friendly judging to beat him by split decision. He scored a one-punch knockdown on Tyson Fury. Most memorable was his 2014 fight with then-undefeated Amir Mansour, in which Cunningham stood up from two knockdowns and won a unanimous decision. Mansour, himself, tasted the canvas in the 10th and final round.

But there’s a backstory:

Mansour is Cunningham’s friend, and neither man was especially eager to fight the other — especially when it became known that Cunningham’s 10-year-old daughter, Kennedy, was facing a life-or-death heart condition in the weeks leading up to the fight.

When Mansour put his friend on the deck twice in the fifth round, it was strictly business — he was doing what a fighter must do — but there was mutual pain.

“After that second knockdown, he was on one knee, and the look on his face…” Mansour told The Ringside Boxing Show. “I’m looking dead at him, and I’m looking at his wife, and at his daughter … and he took a deep breath, and he got up … and from that point on, he just was a different person in the ring.”

At the post-fight press conference, Mansour spontaneously made an appeal for donations to help with Kennedy’s medical expenses, and fans responded to the tune of $20,000. By the way, his daughter got her new heart, and, two years later, is doing well.

So don’t think Cunningham is tucking tail and running from a place where his eight opponents had outweighed him by a total of 239.5 pounds. He is rightfully proud of his three-year visit, but says it’s time to go back where he belongs.

“I feel great. I’m not beat up. I’m just ready to go back and become a three-time world champion,” said the former IBF king.

Dennis Taylor is editor/publisher of www.ringsideboxingshow.com, and host of The Ringside Boxing Show every Sunday at 4 p.m. Pacific, 5 Mountain, 6 Central, and 7 Eastern, at www.radiomonterey.com.

To hear the entire Steve Cunningham interview, visit http://ringsideboxingshow.podbean.com.

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