Steve Cunningham, fighting to get to a place where he can snag a heavy-duty payday, which will help defray medical costs for his daughter who seeks a heart transplant, moved a step closer Saturday night. He put the leather on Cali-based Natu Visinia, who outweighed him by 70 plus pounds, to the point that officials pulled the plug on the contest after round seven ended.
At the 2300 Arena in Philly, and on NBC cable, the 38-year-old Cunningham (seen above photo by David Spagnolo) hit the deck himself in round five but shrugged it off, and got back to showing off his skills and experience edge. A clubbing right, helped by a momentum shove, sent him to the mat, but he wasn't seeing stars or anything.
The 30-year-old Visinia is a bit green, crude, Toughman-ish, but you wondered if his brute strength could grind USS down. Cunningham (now 28-6) switched righty to lefty, moved smartly, hit and scooted, went low and high, used the jab to keep a wise distance, and closed the distance, to blunt the big man, when that was called for…and he did what he needed to do—win.
USS went 210-443 on the hard to miss big lad, while the beefy loser, now 10-1, went 54-259. His stock, though, didn't drop. This was valuable experience and he showed he can hang with a world-class fighter. No shame, no blame to be aimed at Natu.
And now.. hopefully that big opportunity presents itself soon for Cunningham, the ex Navy man.
I checked in with his promoter, Kathy Duva, and asked for her take on the bout. “Once again, Steve Cunningham delivered an electrifying performance, not just out-boxing, but also out-punching an incredibly game and durable opponent who outweighed Steve by 73 pounds,” she said. “At 6'3″ and 205 pounds, Steve is the same height and just one pound lighter than Muhammad Ali was nearly 50 years ago on the night he won his first world title against Sonny Liston. Unfortunately, in 2014, that makes Steve the smallest heavyweight in today's top ten. He may be considered small in this modern age, but Steve is also the most exciting fighter in the heavyweight division today. He never fails to excite and, at heavyweight, it seems that this great former cruiserweight champion has found power that he did not posess at the 200 pound limit. ?Like Bernard Hopkins, another great fighter trained by Nazeem Richardson, Steve doesn't get older. He just gets better. I can't wait to see him fight again and will do everything in my power to bring him back as soon as Steve is ready.”
I don't pretend I don't root for the man and his family. Sorry….NOT SORRY.
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