Tommy Barber – London
Manchester mauler Tyson Fury (21-0-0, 15ko) was knocked down and oft out-boxed by Philadelphian counterpart Steve Cunningham (25-6-0, 12ko) on April 20 inside the Theater at Madison Square Garden, New York City but, in what is fast becoming Tyson’s trademark, the British-Irish puncher rose from the floor, regained his composure and pounded out a thrilling seventh round knockout victory.
Fast-improving heavyweight contender Tyson Fury (20-0-0, 14ko) makes his American debut on Saturday, April 20 when he takes on former cruiserweight ruler Steve Cunningham (25-5-0, 12ko) inside Madison Square Garden’s Theater, New York City.
Tyson Fury: ‘I pick Donaire. He’s just too classy and has the pro experience to back him up. Rigondeaux may be dangerous the first few rounds, but the longer the fight goes, the more that pro experience will show. This is not really a fight that I would bet on, it could be close.’
On The Beak staff reporter
Picture credit – Photo Wende
Towering heavyweight Tyson Fury (20-0-0, 14ko) takes his pugilistic tour to the historic Theatre at Madison Square Garden, New York City on Saturday, April 20 and faces Philly prizefighter Steve Cunningham (25-5-0, 12ko), a former cruiserweight champion. Fury may have a six inch height advantage but this is his tallest order since turning pro, but he needed no second invitation to send his rival a warning…
“This is a great opportunity for me to come to the US and showcase my talents at a great venue such as Madison Square Garden,” said Tyson, a 24-year-old combination puncher cut from Gypsy cloth. “The fight fans better be prepared for a good old fashioned fight, because I’m coming to town and I’m taking no prisoners.”
Fury continued: “Steve Cunningham, you’re in big trouble, I hope you’ve been training really hard because I know I have and it’s fight time. We’ve given ourselves plenty of time to prepare, we’ve been [in Canada] now for six weeks, so that’s more than enough time to acclimatise and get used to the time difference.”
Promoter Mick Hennessy is delighted that the April 20 also gifts him an opportunity to showcase a second Fury to American audiences, Hughie (1-0-0, 1ko): “I’m delighted to deliver this fight to a transatlantic terrestrial TV audience,” said Hennessy.
“Tyson Fury is going to shake up the world of heavyweight boxing and Hughie Fury is going to show why he’s such a special, young, heavyweight talent – and they’ve both got the biggest platform possible to do it on.”
The fight will also be broadcast by Channel 5 in Britain.
By Alan Dawson – London
Headline-grabbing heavyweight Tyson Fury, 24, can try all the tricks in the motor-mouthing book but he will not get under Steve Cunningham‘s skin. The 36-year-old American, an experienced cruiserweight seeking a title shot in boxing’s glamour division, has claimed Tyson’s trash talk efforts are all futile as they will not divert him from his original game-plan.
“He wants to get under my skin with his antics, imitating Ali, doing all these tricks,” Cunningham (25-5-0, 12ko) said during an open media workout this week. “He wants me to just come in and punch him in the mouth, but I will stick to the game plan and not get out of control. It’s all about the game plan.”
The two clash on Saturday, April 20 at the hallowed Theatre inside Madison Square Garden, New York. Whilst Fury (20-0-0, 14ko) is no stranger to taking his show on the road having fought in Quebec, Canada in 2010, his tussle versus Cunningham will be his first on American canvas. And Cunningham is aware Fury intends on using him as his ticket to trans-Atlantic stardom.
“We’re getting ready for the best Tyson Fury that the world has ever seen,” he said. “He can say what he wants to say. It’s only going to make him look bad when he gets beaten by a supposed light heavyweight. I’m going to utilise my strengths… we’ve worked on my weaknesses. So you’re going to see some different things. I feel great. I feel strong. I feel energetic. I’m excited about this fight.”
By Alan Dawson – London
Never one to shy away from a soundbite, bonkers big man Tyson Fury (20-0-0, 14ko) has spoken out ahead of his trans-Atlantic tussle with former cruiserweight king Steve Cunningham. The two trade leather on Saturday afternoon, April 20 at Madison Square Garden and Irish Mancunian Fury is predicting a highlight-reel KO on what will be his American debut.
“All of the top heavyweights in the world need Americans to watch them fight and that’s why I’m making my U.S. pro debut in New York City for all Americans to see on national television,” said the monolithic heavyweight who stands at 6’9.
Speaking from his Canadian base at the Casino Lac-Leamy in Gatineau, Quebec, Fury – who has his equally charismatic 18-year-old cousin Hughie Fury (1-0-0, 1ko) training alongside him – added: “I was supposed to fight in America a few times but they fell out for different reasons. We needed good television, a good arena, and good opponent. Now’s the right time; we have all that.
“I am the Irish Heavyweight Champion and there’s never been another like me. The Irish love real fighters, like me, who always say it like it is. I like to fight and I’m looking forward to fighting in front of so many Irish fans in New York City and watching across the states on NBC.”
On his opponent, Fury mused: “Cunningham is a good boxer and world champion who fought in different countries. He’s a smal heavyweight who will come in with a good game plan and strategy. I anticipate him running but, sooner or later, I will catch him and knock him out. If he runs, I hope the fans boo him out of the arena. He’s going to have to fight me. I’m coming to fight and put on a show.”
Sharing the April 20 bill is Hughie, who is just one inch shorter than Tyson. The pair will be present at an open workout on Thursday, April 4, 14:00 local time at the Final Round Boxing Gym, 15 Eccles Street, Ottawa, Canada.
Petra Kirsch – Gelsenkirchen
Last weekend, at the Fraport Arena in Frankfurt, a new champion was crowned by The Ring magazine who awarded their prestigious belt to 200lb kingpin Yoan Pablo Hernandez. While two words alone can market Hernandez – “Cuban southpaw” – his opponent was a man who could call upon a library of distinguishing and accurate statements, yet Steve Cunningham remains a largely unheralded prizefighter on his side of the Atlantic.
A fighter from the proud town of Philadelphia… a four-time world title challenger and two-time world champion… a former amateur standout despite taking up boxing late… the only man to beat (and kayo) Marco Huck, as well as edging Guillermo Jones, Krzysztof Wlodarczyk, Wayne Braithwaite and Enad Licina… he was a navy man, a serviceman on board USS America and USS Enterprise where he refuelled aircraft and, in his first amateur fight he upset the odds by trouncing the light heavyweight king of the whole US Navy.
At 35-years-old and with two successive defeats on his resume, Cunningham’s foray at world championship level may be over, much to the fighter’s chagrin who is keen to challenge for the highest honours for a fifth time.
That, though, embodies the spirit of Cunningham (24-4-0, 12ko).
Boxing in a weight class that is one of the focal divisions in Germany and virtually dismissed in the States, he has found himself campaigning on foreign canvas for his past four fights and has not even boxed in his home state – PA – since 2003. Considering his background, his accomplishments, the man is deserving of fanfare but is cruelly overlooked in the USA in favour of boxers like Floyd Mayweather Jr, Bernard Hopkins, Andre Ward, Andre Berto, Adrien Broner, Lamont Peterson, Devon Alexander and, with a match-up with Manny Pacquiao looming on the horizon; Timothy Bradley.
While he may not attract the press of any of the aforementioned pugs, Cunningham does have one thing… the unswerving respect of the industry.
In victory, Hernandez (26-1-0, 13ko) was swift to talk-up the opponent he dropped twice in the fourth round but could not finish off. He said: “I take my hat off to Steve, he is a great, great fighter and once again proved his world class.”
Like he was in October, last year, Cunningham was discounted by way of decision, only this time round he boxed the full 12 rounds, unlike the first square-off when the contest was stopped on account of cuts. Two words seemed to epitomise his performance: “warrior” and “courage”: “There were two warriors in the ring and this warrior still wants the belt back,” said Cunningham, when reflecting on the fight.
What was evident, in both fights, was that despite Hernandez’s pedigree, it was Cunningham who was the superior boxer. What prevented the man dubbed ‘USS’ from emerging triumphant was his inability to cope with Yoan Pablo’s power. Had it not been for the knockdowns he suffered in both fights, then the IBF and The Ring magazine titles would be wrapped around his waist and not Hernandez’s.
While the premature technical decision ruling ensured an anti-climactic finish in the first, the second contest was anything but as the Frankfurt audience were treated to boxing as well as fighting. Technical finesses as well as a donnybrook. This was not lost on Wilfried Sauerland, who helped stage and promote the fight. He said: “This was fantastic… one of the best fights on German soil in a long time. Cunningham proved his class, as did Hernandez. This was a real treat for boxing fans.”
Hernandez’s trainer, Ulli Wegner passed his congratulations onto Cunningham for his participation: “He was very impressive. How he recovered from those two knockdowns was amazing. Everybody knows he is a world-class fighter, one of the best out there. I am proud that Pablo defeated him tonight.”
The best was reserved to last by his unmistakable, highly-likable and world-renowned coach, Brother Nazim Richardson: “Steve´s courage was impressive. Had I got hit by those shots, I would still be down. Not many fighters can recover from something like that. But Steve got back up, twice, and fought on.
“His courage is incredible,” he said, in a final, fitting salute.
Petra Kirsch – Gelsenkirchen
Yoan Pablo Hernandez retained possession of the IBF cruiserweight world title at the Fraport Arena in Frankfurt, Germany on Saturday, February 4 due to a unanimous decision over American veteran Steve Cunningham, who made his fourth world title challenge. Two knockdowns in the fourth round, where Hernandez showed his true power, swung the tie in the Cuban’s favour but, considering the gripping nature of the two fights, a trilogy has to be booked…
Official verdict: Hernandez wins unanimous decision (116-110, 116-110, 115-111).
Hernandez’s power that has already felled Cunningham versus the superior boxing nous of the American against the inferior in-ring intellect of the Cuban… the rematch between two of the top cruiserweights in world boxing contained little global fanfare but deserved to be heralded amongst the most highly-anticipated match-ups of the calendar year thus far. As early as round one, Cunningham was far more controlled than he was in the opening tear-up as he fought from mid-to-long range and quadruple-jabbed… to the head then to the body twice over. Hernandez had control of the centre of the ring and bombarded the body, finishing the round well and inspired a great reaction from the Frankfurt crowd but the majority of blows were not clean.
Like the vast majority of Cuban fighters, Hernandez is a southpaw and, while the portside posturing was not problematic for Cunningham, he was struck with clean left hands. Athletic and extremely muscly, Cunningham displayed great footwork, used the ring well but the round went to Yoan Pablo for his ability to dictate the flow. In round three, Hernandez put his punches into bunches and landed extremely well to the body of the 35-year-old American. When Cunningham attempted to throw a power shot, he was countered with a short-range right hand launched from low.
When southpaws and orthodox fighters collide, there can often be foot-work issues as their lead feet tread on each other and, in this fight – the co-support to the main event of Enad Licina and Alexander Alekseev – it was no different, with Cunningham the main instigator.
In round four, Hernandez had Cunningham on the deck twice… the first knockdown was caused because of a full-blooded left cross. Cunningham attempted to make it to his feet immediately but collapsed awkwardly, however, he did – eventually – beat the count but walked into a shot straight away and was in a heap again. The second canvassing, though, was more of a flash knockdown as Cunningham was up swiftly. The Philadelphian prizefighter, a four-time world title challenger at 200lbs, could have been down a third time had it not been for excessive spoiling but in doing so, showed his experience despite his obviously dazed head, weakened legs and battered will.
In the fifth round, a slobberknocker threatened to break out. Cunningham attempted to break Hernandez with body shots before slamming a huge shot into the Cuban’s beak which wobbled the champion making the first defence of the IBF title. Cunningham’s eye and mouth were marked, perhaps because of the fourth round bombardment but could have been due to Hernandez’s head-hunting in the fifth. Yoan Pablo, 27, was more cautious since being so obviously tagged by the elder Cunningham, who showed great recovery and heart to win the fifth round after being dropped twice in the preceding stanza.
Cunningham, with new-found confidence, boxed in the sixth round… he goaded Hernandez on with a loose hand, shot to the body, caught Hernandez’s punches with his gloves, allowed the Cuban the centre of the ring whilst he moved gradually around the outside whilst throwing solitary blows. The best, most effective punch, being the straight right.
In the seventh round, Hernandez was the first to score with a meaningful move as he landed a three-punch body-bound combination. Cunningham, throughout the three minutes, returned to the midsection, like he had been in the previous rounds, in order to best deplete his opponent of his energy reserves. In the final 30 seconds of the round, Cunningham slammed a big overhand right onto Hernandez’s cheekbone which inspired a wild, staggered and badly-thought out attack on the part of the champion who was clearly rattled by the big punch.
Cunningham was caught in round eight by a short-range left uppercut. It was enough to make him take a step back, but not enough to make him return immediately to combat as he retaliated with a body punch. Midway through the round, Hernandez threw a left hand over the top which was partially blocked by a well-placed Cunningham glove. One potential difference-maker in the championship fight was athletic-shape… Cunningham boxed like he was comfortable with the tempo and the distance, whilst Hernandez was breathing heavily with his mouth wide open – something that could be dangerous as it’s where jaws are more prone to breakage.
Cunningham dictated the early tempo of round nine with his jab and, over a quietened crowd, his trainer Brother Nazim Richardson could be heard in his unmistakeable tone, shouting that Hernandez was done and that Cunningham was in the ascendancy. A renowned trainer due to his work in extending the career of Bernard Hopkins, Richardson’s cornerman advice is at the elite-level. Noticing his fighter was cut, he allowed the cutman to take centre stage between rounds in the first third of the fight whilst he stayed behind the ropes to give Cunningham instruction… this allowed the cutman to work more effectively, rather than partially between the ropes.
Before round ten, Richardson warned Cunningham that Hernandez would be throwing hail Mary punches. Indeed, his work-rate paled in comparison to Cunningham, who was patient in between throwing three-punch flurries. In a round high on quality, Cunningham edged Hernandez due to his ability to dictate the flow whilst putting his punches into bunches.
Cunningham, like he had done for the majority of the fight, out-boxed Hernandez, making his man miss whilst connecting with his three-punch moves.
The greater action was reserved for the final round as both fighters entered the 12th as if the contest and the IBF championship depended on it. Cunningham forced the pace, pushed Hernandez onto a tentative backfoot, but, with just over a minute remaining, Cunningham was rocked with a huge left hand. The punch rocked the American but did not take him off his feet. Hernandez fought like he was spent in the final minute as Cunningham came back with a vengeance.
The sound of the final bell was a most unwelcome one but both men shot their arms in the air as if they had taken the decision but only one man walked away with the belt; Hernandez. On The Beak had it closer than the three judges; a Mexican, an Italian and a Canadian, but considering the anti-climactic nature of the first contest, the enthralling distance fight tonight and the competitive stylistic match-up, a trilogy could be called for!
With victory, Hernandez is now 2-0-0, 0ko over Cunningham and 26-1-0, 13ko overall. Cunningham, in defeat, dropped to 24-4-0, 12ko.
Petra Kirsch – Gelsenkirchen
Many column inches have been dedicated to what has been described as the first high-profile boxing event of the year as a championship double-header consisting of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr and Marco Antonio Rubio as well as Nonito Donaire and Wilfredo Vazquez Jr goes down in Texas on Saturday, February 4. However, the San Antonio card has a predecessor as Germany plays host to the highly-anticipated IBF cruiserweight world title rematch between Yoan Pablo Hernandez and Steve Cunningham earlier that evening.
Tough Germany-based Serbian Enad Licina takes on Alexander Alekseev for the EBU belt at 200lbs, while Eduard Gutknecht and Vyacheslav Uzelkov complete the Fraport Arena, Frankfurt card in an EBU light heavyweight title clash.
During a confrontational head-to-head, Cunningham (24-3-0, 12ko) stared down Hernandez – a fighter whom he lost possession of the IBF title to in their last fight – and said: “That is my belt, it is coming back to me.
“You better hug it tonight. I am the real champion. Nobody is going to help you this time. I live, eat, sleep boxing. Nobody ever helped me. No referee helped me up off the ground when I got knocked down. I am worried for you! I am the real champ.”
During the October, 2011 tussle at the Jahnsportforum in Neubrandenburg, Hernandez canvassed Cunningham in round one, however, the latter rallied well, took control of the fight but, in the sixth round, the contest was stopped on account of cuts and therefore went to the scorecards of the judges – who had Cuban southpaw Hernandez ahead at the time.
“It was the wrong decision to stop the fight,” said Cunningham. “All I ask for on Saturday is an equal playing field. Hernandez is a good fighter but I am better. I will prove that I am the best cruiserweight.”
Speaking out on Cunningham’s calls for reclaiming what he believes is rightfully his, Hernandez (25-1-0, 13ko) commented that it is “no problem” for him. He added: “He is American and Americans talk a lot. We’re used to it. I look forward to the rematch. Cunningham is a top cruiserweight, a very strong opponent, but I deserved to win the first fight and I will beat him again. If there is any doubt left that I am better, I will erase all doubts on Saturday night.”
Promoter Wilfried Sauerland said: “The first duel was very dramatic. I disagree with some of the things that happened. I thought that the count in the first round – when Cunningham went down – was too long. And I also disagree with the decision to stop the fight due to the cuts, I think they could have fought on. Now we look forward to a compelling rematch.
“Cunningham and Hernandez are the two best cruiserweights out there. We feel honoured that, on top of the IBF belt, The Ring belt will be at stake. It is going to be very, very interesting.”
On the undercard, emerging cruiserweight Licina (21-3-0, 11ko) promised a fan-friendly contest: “I grew up in Frankfurt and I want to give my fans an entertaining fight. Alekseev is an accomplished fighter but I am tough and I will beat him.”
Opponent Alekseev (22-2-0, 20ko) noted that, to realise his ambitions, he must “win” on fight night. “I want to be the new European champion.”
European light heavyweight ruler Gutknecht (22-1-0, 9ko) honours his mandatory challenger by taking on Uzelkov (25-1-0, 16ko): “He is a very strong opponent but I will remain the champion,” Gutknecht said.
(Embedded video below credit – YouTube, SekondzOut)
On The Beak – Admin
IBF cruiserweight world champion Yoan Pablo Hernandez (25-1-0, 13ko) will face two-time world champion Steve “USS” Cunningham (24-3-0, 12ko) in a hotly-anticipated rematch in Frankfurt on Saturday, February 4. www.boxing-online.com caught up with the 27-year-old Cuban.
Q: Yoan Pablo, you will be facing Steve Cunningham for the second time on Saturday. Are you upset about giving him a rematch?
YPH: “No, not at all, much on the contrary. I am happy to fight him again. I will show everybody that I am the better fighter. If there are any doubts, I will erase them.”
Q: The first fight came to a controversial ending. Cunningham believes you could have fought on despite the cuts. What’s your take on that?
YPH: “Well, it wasn’t me who stopped the fight, but the referee after consulting the ring doctor. One of the cuts was very deep, the risk of getting a serious injury would have been too big in my opinion. And the blood was affecting my vision. Who knows what could have happened.”
Q: Are you upset about the fact that everybody discussed the ending of the fight? After all, you knocked him down in the first round…
YPH: “Of course I was upset. I performed well on that night and I deserved to win. Everybody should respect that. Cunningham should have respected that, too.”
Q: How will the second fight go?
YPH: “I hope it will not be as bloody as the first fight. I hope for a fair fight – I will be fighting fair. It’s my goal to win the rematch and put an end to the discussions about the first fight.”
Q: Has your life changed after winning the world title?
YPH: “Not really. I am the same person I was before. But when walking around in Berlin, I get recognised by more fans.”
Q: If you win on February 4, what will be next for you?
YPH: “I will take some time off. Every athlete needs breaks. I have trained very hard in the past months and I just want to spend some time with my family. Then I will quickly return to training for my next fight. But I am not thinking that far ahead. All that matters now is the rematch against Cunningham on Saturday.”