Philadelphia, PA: Philadelphia’s own Steve “USS” Cunningham (26-6-0, 12 KOs) hopes to win over his hometown crowd at the Liacouras Center at Temple University on April 4th when he attempts to take the USBA Heavyweight Championship belt from the undefeated champion, Amir “Hardcore” Mansour (20-0-0, 15 KOs), on NBCSN Fight Night.
Cunningham, a two-time cruiserweight champion, learned to fight while in the United States Navy and has not fought in his home town since March 29, 2003 when he defeated Demetrius Jenkins at the Philadelphia Spectrum on the Tua-Rahman undercard. Cunningham said, “The last time I fought in Philadelphia, Philly didn’t know me. I learned to fight in the Navy so I didn’t have a following at home. I have always wanted to fight in Philly at this level or higher.”
His opponent, Mansour, a native of Wilmington, DE, has deeper boxing roots in Philadelphia. Mansour worked with Joe Hand at the Joe Hand Gym in Philadelphia after he was released from the Schuylkill Federal Correction Institution in Minersville, PA. According to Steve’s trainer, Brother Naazim Richardson, “Fighting here in Philly is an advantage for Mansour. His supporters are based in Philly. He’s got Philly history behind him. We have to work harder than Mansour. We have to do more to win over these fans. Plan on Steve Cunningham being Steve Cunningham. We have to be intelligent enough to know how he is thinking about it and we are. Some of the things that we have implemented into Steve’s training I am confident we have found a way to deal with it.”
The two were sparring partners shortly after Mansour was released from prison. About their time as sparring partners Richardson said, “Mansour is going to try to prove to Steve that he is a better fighter than when they sparred together. The sparring advantage actually goes to Mansour. They didn’t spar enough to give away anything about Steve. We have to be intelligent enough to know how he is thinking about it and we are.” Cunningham said, “I don’t want to lose ever. The USBA title would be a step on the stairs to heaven. This is a national title and it will move me up in the rankings. This will get me a step closer.”
According to Cunningham this has been one of his hardest training camps yet, “This camp has been grueling. Brother Naazim has been really taxing on my body. I need and enjoy my rest when I get it. I have added a lot of things to my cardio: swimming, sprints and rowing. We have been putting different stuff in there. We feel very confident that we are going to get in there and do our job which is to win.” Richardson believes Steve is ready to face the Southpaw, “Some of the things that we have implemented into Steve’s training I am confident we have found a way to deal with it.”
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