PHILLY BOXING HISTORY                                                                             June 01, 2010


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Finally after far too long of a wait, Steve "USS" Cunningham will get a chance to regain his old cruiserweight championship. On Saturday in a German boxing ring, he takes on Troy Ross for the vacant IBF belt. The twelve-round contest is not televised in the US. So a possible Internet broadcast of the bout is the only hope for Philly boxing fans who want to see if the patient Cunningham can regain his title. It's been a long time coming, but finally Steve will get his chance.

Steve Cunningham lost his cruiserweight title in a thrilling "fight-of-the-year"-type battle with Tomasz Adamek way back in December of 2008. He lost the fight, but it was a great match that should have inspired a rematch - an immediate rematch. But the opportunity never came. New champion Adamek had bigger things in mind. He defended the belt a couple of times against challengers far less deserving than Cunningham, and then moved up to the heavyweight division to find more glory and bigger paydays. (Against all odds, he's done quite well for himself with the big boys thus far.) In the meantime, Cunningham's career stalled. He waited for his return bout, fighting only once in the eighteen months that has elapsed since losing his belt. The interim win, an IBF eliminator fight, was a key victory. It made Cunningham the #1 contender and ensured that he would be the next to challenge for the title. But that wasn't the end of his waiting game.

When Adamek officially gave up the cruiserweight belt to pursue the heavyweight title, Cunningham was matched with the #2 200-pounder, New Englander Matt Godfrey, for the vacant crown. That was in March. In a bizarre turn, the fight never came off, and Godfrey's decision not to fight (a long story), subsequently dropped him out of his number two position.

The delay caused by this non-fight brought Cunningham to the virtual end of his promotional contract with Don King. Although it is true that Don guided Cunningham to the title a few years before, his overall handling of Cunningham was shoddy. For some reason, Cunningham's career languished under King's watch. It may be true that the entire world is not clamoring for cruiserweight bouts, but that never stopped King from promoting scores of other 200-pounders in the past. Cunningham is a marketable commodity. He's a skilled boxer. He's always in shape. He has a Navy background. He's one of boxing's good guys - in fact, one of it's best guys. But still he remained mostly unknown and unexposed to the boxing public. 

After becoming a free agent, Steve considered a few options and eventually signed with the German promotional company Sauerland Event in May. With his promotional status now set, the way was cleared for the vacant title. It's about time.

In steps Troy Ross of Guyana - by way of Toronto - for Saturday's fight. The 5' 11.5" southpaw boasts a 23-1 record with 16 KOs. Ross hasn't lost since 2005, and last year won the fourth season of The Contender TV series. So his credentials are pretty good. Cunningham has a similar record: 22-2 with 11 KOs, but has deeper experience. This should serve him well in the fight.

It's great to finally see Cunningham heading back to the ring. Here's hoping that he finds success on Saturday and regains his belt. Further, let's hope that Cunningham's new promoter works to keep him busy in the future. He's waited and waited. Perhaps now Steve Cunningham can get on with the second half of his career.

Good luck Steve. Bring it home.




John DiSanto - News & Notes - June 01, 2010