By Matt Richardson
Photos: Larry Levanti / Main Events
Hard core boxing fans have known who Tyson Fury is for a few years now. But those who don’t pay as close attention will get their first glimpse of the heavyweight with the famous first name this weekend when the loquacious Brit comes to the United States to box former cruiserweight champion Steve Cunningham at the Theater at Madison Square Garden.
The Fury-Cunningham bout will be the main event of a card televised live on network television on NBC on Saturday afternoon.
On Wednesday morning, in a bar just blocks from where they will punch each other on Saturday, both boxers and their respective teams gathered to make a final promotional push for the clash of heavyweights.
“I’m not a talker. That’s just not me,” said Cunningham (25-5, 12 KOs). “I’m a fighter. Tyson Fury is a decent fighter. Tall and agile to be that big. This is what I do – with the fame or without it. I’m motivated and I’ve been motivated. For the last two and a half months it’s been live, sleep and dream Tyson Fury.”
Nazim Richardson, Cunningham’s trainer, reiterated his pupil. “I have a great deal of respect for him,” Richardson said. “I think it’ll be an outstanding fight. He (Cunningham) is well prepared and Main Events (the promoter of Cunningham) has given him the opportunity.”
For Cunningham, it’s another chance to set the record straight.
In December, the Philly fighter seemingly won his rematch with Tomasz Adamek only to see the judge’s tally up a split decision win for his opponent. But now, it is Cunningham, not Adamek, who has secured a consecutive high-profile match on network television. “It is to an extent…it’s a victory,” Cunningham acknowledged. “But you know, still looking at my record, man, seeing that ‘L’ against Adamek for December 22, it’s just ridiculous. It’s heart breaking. I was just telling a guy, 50 years from now when guys look up Steve Cunningham they’re going to look on my record and see two losses to Adamek. It’s ridiculous. The first loss, off of three knockdowns, I still had a split decision fight. This one, no knockdowns, I outbox him and it’s a split decision. I don’t know what’s up. But it is what it is. I’ve moved on.”
Cunningham has moved onward and literally upward against the 6’9″ Fury (20-0, 14 KOs). Fury wasted no time letting his opponent know who the ringside eyes will be scouting on Saturday. And when promoter Kathy Duva of Main Events proceeded to attempt a coin flip to determine which fighter would enter the ring and be announced first, Fury used the move to rant away.
“If I wanted to go to gamble I’d go to a casino,” he said.
“I’m the man. I’m the man to beat. I’m a heavyweight and the best fighter on the planet. I’ve said it and said it again. Steve Cunningham is an opponent, a steppingstone…Tyson Fury road show. What can I say? If I want to gamble I want to gamble for money and considering there’s no money involved I’m not interested in gambling. This is all about me. So why should Steve Cunningham go into the ring first? Why should he go into the ring and be the man? I’m the undefeated one, you heard? I’m bringing this show to town. Without me, there’s no fight.”
When Richardson implied that Fury was acting like a child, the unbeaten heavyweight only went on more. “I am a big child, yes, Mr. Brother Nazim,” he said. “I’m glad he’s (Richardson) in high spirits and he respects me because he better, that’s all I’m going to say. I may be hard-headed, I may be whatever, but I can fight.”
“I’m the best fighter on earth. These guys haven’t got a prayer. When it comes to praying, they talk about religion. I know about religion as well. Steve is actually a brother of mine in Christ Jesus. We’re actually brothers. Like they say, if God is with you who can be against you? It’s one of them things where God has bigger plans for me than Steve, obviously, because he’s already been defeated and whatever and I haven’t. So we’re going to see.”
Indeed, we will. But if the fight on Saturday afternoon is as entertaining as the press conference on Wednesday, the days of Fury being known by just the biggest of boxing fans will be in the past.
The five bout under card will be highlighted by lightweight prospect Karl Dagan (12-0, 6 KOs) and fringe middleweight contender Curtis Stevens (23-3, 17 KOs). Both men are expected to easily win their fights against Edward Valdez (12-9-2, 9 KOs) and Derrick Findley (20-9, 13 KOs), respectively.
The first fight of the afternoon is scheduled for 1:20 PM local time with the televised portion of the card to commence at 4 PM ET. Tickets, which start at $25.00 a pop, are still available.
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