Cunningham Counts Down To Saturday Clash

Steve & Cruz Cunningham with Naazim Richardson

Photo Credits: Darryl Cobb Jr./Main Events

Training Camp Notes & Video:Cunningham Stays Busy While His Daughter Waits for a New Heart

Philadelphia, PA: Steve “USS” Cunningham and wife Livvy were fighting for their daughter Kennedy’s life before she was even born. Now, as Kennedy awaits a heart transplant 300 miles away in Pittsburgh, PA, Cunningham prepares to step into the ring Saturday against a young, undefeated prospect with an 80 percent (8 of 10) knockout-to-win ratio.

Livvy and Kennedy Cunningham moved to Pittsburgh several weeks ago to be close to their doctors in the event a heart is found for Kennedy. Steve stayed in Philadelphia with their two sons, Cruz and Steve Jr., and trained for his Oct. 18 bout against Natu Visinia at the 2300 Arena in South Philadelphia. The separation has been difficult for this close-knit family.

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Steve “USS” Cunningham Media Workout NBCSN Fight Night

“With Livvy and Kennedy in Pittsburgh, I miss them dearly,” he said, “but I get paid to do a job and it needs to get done.”

This will be Steve’s second fight in a row in his Philadelphia hometown after spending 11 years (19 bouts) fighting elsewhere. This has made his training easier while he is separated from Kennedy and Livvy. Although Cunningham is not accustomed to fighting in front of his hometown crowd, he has been touched by the outpouring of support for his family from the Philly fans.

USS Cunningham

Photo Credits:Darryl Cobb Jr./Main Events

“It is an honor to fight in Philly because Philly is the fight capital of the world,” he said. “To be here during this time when everyone has been so supportive of the situation with my daughter’s fund, it is great to give back to my fans. I didn’t really have to take this fight, but I just want to stay active while we are dealing with this situation. This isn’t a walkover fight but I have to make it look like that though.”

Cunningham’s trainer, Brother Naazim Richardson (trainer of Bernard Hopkins, Shane Mosley and Main Events’ stablemate Karl Dargan), said Cunningham is still focused on his opponent.

“Visinia is a big kid,” Richardson said. “He’s a dangerous kid. Steve is a real veteran. He’s seen a lot. He responds well in the ring. He has courage and talent and he is a great ambassador for our sport. At the end of the fight you will see how he neutralizes the big strong guy and that is what is important.”

Cunningham’s last fight on April 4 was against Amir “Hardcore” Mansour, a fellow-Philadelphian and good friend. The two battled for 10 hard rounds and Steve emerged with the USBA Heavyweight title. Despite losing his belt, Mansour became the champion behind the fund for Kennedy’s expenses during his televised post-fight interview.

Steve Cunningham

Photo Credits: Darryl Cobb Jr./Main Events

“A big shoutout to Mansour because he was the one who got the fund for Kennedy started,” Cunningham said. “When Mansour said what he said after our fight about giving to our family, it hadn’t even been in our minds to open a fund.

“People started hitting us up on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, wanting to know where they could donate. That’s when we realized people really wanted to help. We opened it and the thing just blew up. I told Mansour that this was all thanks to him. We were friends before we went into the fight and we were friends after. For me, boxing is more than just winning fights and being a champion. It is about relationships. It is a brotherhood. Even though we fight each other, we still got respect for each other.”

The fund created by Steve and Livvy, Heartbyfaith.com, raised over $25,000 to help with the expenses associated with Kennedy’s heart transplant. Kennedy was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, a congenital heart defect. She is currently awaiting a donor heart in Pittsburgh.

About October 18

The Oct. 18 edition of NBCSN Fight Nightwill take place at the 2300 Arena at 2300 Swanson Street in South Philadelphia. It features a 10-round fight between Steve “USS” Cunningham, of Philadelphia, and Natu “The Truth” Visinia, of Lakewood, CA. A 10-round junior lightweight contest between Edner “Cherry Bomb” Cherry, of Wauchula, FL, and Osumanu Akaba of Accra, Ghana is the co-feature. Five additional fights open the show at 6PM. Tickets are $50 and $75 and are available by calling Peltz Boxing at (215) 765-0922 or at www.peltzboxing.com. They also can be purchased at Wanamakers Tickets (215-568-2400). The card is presented by Main Events and Peltz Boxing in association with Final Forum Promotions and BAM Boxing. The NBCSN Fight Night telecast will begin at 9 PM ET. Doors open at 5 PM and the first fight will start at 6. The event is sponsored by Rocco’s Collision.

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COMMENTS

-The Commish :

Natu Visinia is a gifted athlete who played college football, wrestled and did some MMA. But it is boxing which has a grasp on him. A Samoan cut out of the mold of another Samoan puncher, David Tua, Visinia, is, at 6'2", taller than Tua with perhaps a greater arsenal than Tua had. Because of his height, Visinia also has a long, quick, powerful jab. He uses the punch well to set up a potent right cross and big left hook. He throws lots of combinations and doesn't stand around and wait for things to happen with singular shots. On SiriusXM's "Friday Night at the Fights" last week, Visinia was asked if he was prepared for the boxing lesson Steve Cunningham will try to give to him on Saturday on NBCSN. "I have seen Cunningham fight, and I respect his athleticism," said Visinia. "I know what I have to do. I intend to go out there and do it. If I do it, I'll win. If I don't, I'll lose. I feel real good and see no reason why I won't be able to do what I've trained to do." Cunningham is coming from a victory against Amir Mansour in what was a "Fight of the Year" candidate. His job will be to keep off the ropes and capitalize of the inexperience of Visinia, especially down the stretch. This one is well worth watching live on NBCSN. If you can't watch it live, set your DVR's. You really don't want to miss it. -Randy G.


-Bernie Campbell :

A rematch with Troy Ross!