By Przemek Garczarczyk
Photo: Livvy Cunningham
Steve “USS” Cunningham (24-4, 12 KO), like no other single fighter, forever connected with Polish boxing. There were two championship battles with current WBC champion Krzysztof “Diablo” Włodarczyk (2006 and 2007), and the epic fight for IBF title and undisputed cruiserweight reign against Tomasz Adamek (46-2, 28 KO) in 2008. After four years, both of them – Adamek and Cunningham – will back in the same place, the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, but this is where similarities end. Tomek, already established as a top heavyweight fighter, will battle Travis Walker to get closer to another chance for a title fight. Steve will make his heavyweight debut, to prove that he can follow the way paved by Adamek. And, of course, one day fight him again. The September 8 event will be televised live in the U.S. by Wealth TV and also be available online at WealthTV.com. The card is presented by Main Events in association with Peltz Boxing, and Ziggy Promotions.
Steve, when we last spoke at length, before the first Yoan Hernandez championship fight, being a heavyweight was a rather distant proposition. And now, on September 8, you will make heavyweight debut on, of all the people, Tomasz Adamek’s card…
Yeah, who could believe four years ago that we would be both heavyweights, fighting on the same night, the same place! After the second fight with Yoan, which he won fair and square, not like the first one, I had a long chat with my wife Livvy deciding what’s next. What’s the point of fighting for another mandatory position, not knowing if it ever produces an actual fight for actual money? So it was an easy decision. I was obligated to do the fight with Hernandez. Now being a heavyweight with Main Events gives me a new life.
I had exactly the same discussion three years ago. Only the language was different.
With Adamek, I’m sure… When we fought for the IBF title four years ago, it was us two in the cruiserweight division, and a big group of fighters chasing us. Adamek realized couple of years earlier than me that no matter how good our fights would be, we will not able to carry the whole division. Just after taking my belt, probably nobody remembers today that outside of being down three times, I was winning – he knocked out cold then undefeated Jonathon Banks. This is how good we BOTH were in 2008.
I’ve known you long enough to ask this question. You were down three times fighting Adamek, who is not exactly known in the heavyweight ranks as a knockout artist; you were also down against Hernandez. How do you want to compete with hard-hitting, 235+ pounds heavyweights?
Fair question. We have to find out, don’t we? It’s not like I don’t know how hard they hit, because all my life I was sparring with likes of Chris Byrd, Tony Thompson, Wladimir Klitschko, just to name a few. I just have to find a way to not get hit so hard, and all my fans know that even when I’m down, I always get up…
Nobody ever will question your professionalism, heart and dedication to the sport, you don’t need to get any of those attributes. What about boxing ones?
Some things I wave to do better; nothing will have to be dramatically changed. There will not be a big time remodeling of USS Cunningham. I just have to get some extra pounds of muscle, be around 208 pounds, for a bigger punch, more strength to battle big guys. Eddie Chambers, when he fought Adamek – he was around 200 pounds and was looking good.
In your first fight, you will face seasoned veteran Jason Gavern, who had some battles with established heavyweights. But I can bet that you would like to fight Adamek as soon as possible…
Maybe not a.s.a.p., but getting my revenge in 2013 is for sure fueling my fire. But I will not rush anything; I have to do things my way, develop and get experience. Maybe three more fights and let’s do Adamek-Cunningham again. Everybody knows how much I want to do this again.
The September 8th Adamek-Walker event is available live at WealthTV.com. WealthTV is available on Verizon FiOS TV (channels 169 and 669 in HD), AT&T U-Verse TV (channels 470 and 1470 in HD), along with over 100 cable systems across the country. Click here for more information.