|Interview - Will Ring Magazine Recognize Steve “USS” Cunningham As Cruiserweight Champion?
By Ken Hissner, Doghouse Boxing (Sept 1, 2011) Doghouse Boxing
Steve “USS” Cunningham has defeated the other organizations
champions. For some reason the ratings committee of “the Ring
Magazine” have the cruiserweight title vacant! This writer is not
as big a supporter of the Rings ratings as the ESPN commentators are
but justice should be served!
(IBF) is their No. 1 contender with Marco Huck of Germany (WBO) No.
2, Krzysztof Wlodarczyk of Poland (WBC) No. 3 and Guillermo Jones of
Panama (WBA) No. 9. In 11 of their 17 divisions they have vacancies.
This includes Manny Pacquiao who is their No. 1 rated pound for
pound boxer. No. 10 is another Philadelphia boxer who happens to now
live in DE, Bernard Hopkins the WBC light heavyweight champion.
Since Hopkins has talked about someday boxing for the heavyweight
title maybe he would have an all “Philadelphia” cruiserweight
title fight on “the way” to the heavyweight title.
of 2005 Cunningham defe4ated the current WBA champion Jones by split
decision in the US. Jones would win his title in 2008 and not fight
again for over 2 years yet held his title. He finally made a defense
in October of 2010. He has nothing scheduled and his No. 1 contender
is Nigerian Lateef Kayode, 17-0 (14), now living in CA.
November of 2006 Cunningham traveled to Poland challenging the then
IBF champion Wlodarczyk. He lost a highly disputed split decision
and the only way he forced the champion into a rematch was the
champion refused to take a drug test after the fight. It would be 6
months later when Cunningham went back to Poland scoring a 4th round knockdown and taking a majority decision and the IBF title in
May of 2007.
would challenge for the WBC title in May of 2009 receiving a draw
with then champion Giacobbe Fragomeni in Italy. It would be a year
almost to the day when Wlodarczyk would win the rematch by stoppage
in 8 rounds in Poland. He has nothing scheduled but in his last
fight he won a disputed split decision over his still No. 1 contender
Francisco Palacios and may be obligated to give a return match.
December of 2007 Cunningham defended his IBF title scoring a last
round stoppage over Huck in Germany. Huck’s promoter Sauerland
Event was impressed enough that when Cunningham was finally able to
free himself of Don King Promotions they signed him.
Sauerland stated in February he hoped to stage a Super Six Tournament
in the latter part of this year with the 4 organizations champions
plus the WBO’s No. 1 contender Denis Lebedev, 22-1 (17), of Russia
and Cuban Yoan Hernandez, 24-1 (13), the now WBA interim champion
fighting out of Germany having won the portion of the title in
February. Lebedev lost to Huck in December of 2010 by split decision
December of 2008 Cunningham lost a disputed split decision to Tomasz
Adamek in the US. Coming off the canvas 3 times in 3 different
rounds did not help Cunningham’s cause though this writer still had
him ahead winning the other 9 rounds. Adamek’s promoters showed no
signs of staging a rematch. In 2009 Adamek scored 2 wins over lower
ranked contenders and decided to move onto the heavyweight division
and is scheduled to fight Vitali Klitschko Sept. 10 in Poland for the
that vacancy Cunningham defeated former WBC champion Wayne
Braithwaite in an elimination match and finally got his IBF title
back stopping Troy Ross from Guyana, fighting out of Canada in June
of 2010. Cunningham came off the canvas in the 4th and stopped Ross the next round on a cut. Ross won “The Contender”
championship in February of 2009.
was nice enough to answer some questions about the Super Six
Tournament and what his future might hold. Always a dedicated gym
worker, it’s questionable whether he can put on enough weight to go
into the heavyweights. I caught up with him at Shuler’s Gym in
West Philadelphia where Buster Custus is the owner.
Hissner: Steve I want to thank you for taking the time to answer
some questions. I see you recently sparred with Wladimir Klitschko.
I recently interviewed your good friend Chris Byrd and he said it’s
a total different world facing the Klitschko’s.
Cunningham: You cannot go
into the ring thinking you are going to beat the Klitschko’s. They
are so big and strong that you have to out maneuver them and be busy
enough to out score them.
Back in February your promoter Kalle Sauerland proposed a Super Six
Cruiserweight Tournament. How does that stand at the present time?
SC: It seems it was too difficult getting the other fighters together.
Even though they also promote Huck they are willing to have us fight
a rematch down the line which would be an enormous fight in Germany.
Let’s get your opinion of the other organizations champs starting
with the WBA champ Guillermo Jones of Panama.
SC: He is a good fighter who seems to get better with age.
How about Krzysztof Wlodarczyk the WBC champion whom you split with
in 2 fights?
SC: He has a good defense though his offense is lacking. It helps him
fighting at home.
Now the WBO champ in Huck?
SC: He is an overrated kick boxer who uses every dirty tactic in a
Did you see Huck fight the Russian Lebedev?
SC: I thought Huck lost 8 out of 12 rounds.
On October 1 you are scheduled to fight the WBA interim champ Yoan
Pablo Hernandez, a Cuban, who has fought every one of his fights in
Germany where he resides.
SC: He is a great fighter. He is a top cruiserweight and a dangerous
southpaw. I have been training with southpaws getting ready for him
or anyone else on October 1.
Was there any talk fighting a rematch with Troy Ross who is the IBF’s
top rated contender?
SC: We were on the plane and didn’t know until the next day his people
put in a protest claiming he was thumbed. We watched the replay and
could see where the glove cut him. He ran all over the place and was
lucky to score a knockdown which was blown out of proportion. If we
fought again I would knock him out. The fight would again be in
Germany since it has the second largest market outside of the US. I
believe they moved him up in the ratings because of the coverage he
got on the Contender show. I had to fight 2 elimination bouts to
become a 2-time IBF champion and feel he should have to do the same.
Vitali Klitschko is scheduled to defend his WBC heavyweight title
against Tomasz Adamek. How do you see that fight ending?
SC: Vitali should pick him apart. Adamek has a very good chin so he may
go the distance.
Who is in your corner? Maybe I should re-phrase that knowing Jesus
is always in your corner.
SC: I am always in the corner of Jesus. Brother Nazim Richardson is
head trainer while Buddy Osborn is assistant trainer and cut man. My
wife Livvy is my manager. John Hornerwer out of Chicago is my lawyer
and has represented Floyd Mayweather, Jr., Vladimir Klitschko and
Chris Byrd among others.
I see the USBA champ Garrett “The Ultimate Warrior” Wilson your
No. 12 contender worked with you in preparation for your last fight.
He was scheduled to fight Troy Ross but it fell through. Now he is
to defend against Chuck Mussachio November 19th in Atlantic City.
SC: Yes he did work with me. He was also to fight Lateef Kayode the No.
5 contender for the top spot in the rankings until he pulled out. It
seems the IBF insists Ross be the top contender. Eddie Chambers (No.
1 IBF heavyweight contender) and Yusaf Mack (USBA light heavyweight
champion) also worked with me. We tried to get Wayne Braithwaite
being a southpaw who beat Hernandez in for this one but they asked
for too much money.
I guess he’d rather sit home doing nothing.
SC: I have fought plenty of southpaws in the amateurs and pro’s.
Can you compare the German fans to the US fans?
SC: The US fans expect a knockout every fight or they are not satisfied.
The German fans appreciate boxing much more. It’s almost like it
was in the 1980’s in the US there.
I see you and your lovely wife Livvy attending both amateur and
professional fights between Philly and Atlantic City. How important
do you think it is to the upcoming boxers?
SC: When I was coming up through the amateurs I would love to have seen
a champion in the audience.
What are you doing outside the ring today?
SC: There’s a graphic artist who was from the gym who along with
myself are working on a comic book and website. I can also draw. It
will be something like super heroes. This sport is so political due
to sympathy toward some fighters instead of others ranked who deserve
a title shot. I had to fight 2 eliminations and that was after I had
already been champion. I think this is what Ross should have to do.
I am also to get interviewed by Benny Henderson on his Big Top Media
show out of TX tonight.
I see where you said you are sending a message to the now IBO
champion Antonio Tarver (No. 8 IBF contender).
SC: He doesn’t want to fight me.
Have you done any commercials in Germany?
SC: Yes I have (laughing) in German for their cable network which
reaches 5 million homes.
I’d love to see that (laughing). I attend a Calvary Chapel church
and I understand you do too. Is that right?
SC: We attend the Antioch of Calvary Chapel at 47th and Chestnut in West Philly. Aaron Campbell is the pastor there and
we have been reaching out to a tribe in Alaska. The Bible says we
are to reach out to others. I hope to visit there in the future.
Cunningham is 24-2 (12) and one of the most underrated boxers in the
game today. To find someone better conditioned you would have to
search and search. He has just been named to receive the Briscoe
Award as Philly’s Fighter of the Year for 2010 which will happen
October 10th from 6pm to 9pm at the VBA Club at 2733 E. Clearfield Street in the
Port Richmond section of Philly. Keep the date in mind if you want
to come out to see the future Ring Magazine cruiserweight champion!
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