USS Cunningham Sets Sail: Part One
By Steve Kim, MaxBoxing (Jan 27, 2012) Doghouse Boxing
Steve Cunningham
There are two ways to see the world. One would be to join the military. The other is to become a professional cruiserweight. Steve Cunningham has done both. Next week in Frankfurt, Germany, he faces Yoan Pablo Hernandez once again in an attempt to reclaim his IBF title. It will be just his latest trip to Germany in a career that included forays to South Africa and Poland. From 1994-98, while serving the U.S. Navy on the USS America and USS Enterprise, he traveled to the likes of Italy, Greece, and Malta while taking journeys throughout the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean and Red Sea.
“We were all over,” said Cunningham of his naval expeditions.
His reason for enlisting was very simple- he wanted to see the world outside of Philly. And he didn't want to become that stereotype of that guy who was watching “106 and Park” everyday with no real plans for his life. He had seen that first hand.
Steve Cunningham
“I just knew I had to do something else,” Cunningham explained. “I just knew I had to go somewhere different. Actually, one of my main motivators was my brother. Man, he had dropped out of high school and he was basically living at home. So I would come home and I would see him; he's what- 19 years old? He's outta school and he's living in the basement and that was just a visual of what would've happened to me. I didn't want that. I felt there was more for me. So when I went to school, I still didn't know for what, though. I'm sitting there weighing my options, like, ‘Man, do I work at McDonalds? Do I get a job at Checkers and just try to work?’” 
Like many other youth growing up in the inner city, there was the question of whether to get caught up in illicit activities or go into a legal and legitimate trade. Hey, fast money is hard to turn away from. Cunningham admits, “I used to do some illegal things when I was a teenager that I had stopped doing but I'm like, ‘I don't want to get back into that.’ So I knew I had to get out of the city and then literally within that week, the Navy recruiter came to my school and that was it.”
After his graduation from Germantown High School, Cunningham enlisted.
He admits, while rewarding, he should've gotten more out of his experience in the U.S. Navy.
“I didn't get everything I thought I would get but I got a little something else. Like my whole idea of going into the Navy, my initial plan was to go in for 12 to 14 years, possibly leave at an E-6 rating (Petty Officer First Class) and have great job training and from what I was doing in the Navy, get a good job out in the world. But when I got in the military, it was everything that the recruiter said- you see the world; you can get this job, do this, do that, girls and all that stuff,” Cunningham recalled, laughing.

Steve Cunningham & Team
“And with the schooling thing, I had the G.I. Bill program. I was in that but my focus went to boxing,” said Cunningham, who had not boxed till then. “The Navy recruiter told me that they had a Navy boxing team. I was always interested in trying to fight; I never fought before I went into the Navy as an amateur. So through the grace of God, I was stationed on the base, literally, five, ten minutes away from where the Navy boxing team trained. So I would go over there to that base, train, work out and from there, it picked up.”
He eventually found his vocation.
“But I'm mad that I didn't take advantage of- and I was there for four years- I should've took advantage of some of the schooling, the college-level credit classes and stuff,” he admitted. “That's one thing I'm a little angry at but I was living my college years, partying, drinking.”
Instead of a frat house, Cunningham had a battleship.
“Yeah, basically,” he said. “I was that guy. Then when the boxing started coming in, that all kinda turned down also.”
Cunningham says of his days as a sailor, “It was a good experience.”
But it turns out, his days overseas were far from over.

With the fight with Johnny Molina on March 3rd imploding, it looks like former WBA lightweight champion Brandon Rios will now fight on April 14th at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas with the focus on trying to make a deal with Yuriorkis Gamboa. The original plan was for them to both fight at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California against separate foes and then meet later on in 2012. But with Molina not seeing eye-to-eye with his promoter, it looks like Top Rank and HBO just want to get to this fight.

If it happens, I guess everyone should thank Dan Goossen.


With Miguel Cotto balking at fighting Manny Pacquiao at 147, it seems the next logical step would be for the Puerto Rican star to face Floyd Mayweather on May 5th. But again, a deal still has to be hammered out. Unlike most of Mayweather's past foes, Cotto isn't going to just take the standard $2.5 million to face him. The bottom line is that he himself is a franchise that brings something to the table. Not sure what Top Rank will try and do to keep Cotto in the fold but my guess is that a lucrative bout with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. will be dangled out there (Of course, it's no sure thing that Chavez Jr. successfully defends his WBC middleweight title next week in San Antonio versus Marco Antonio Rubio).

As for the “Pac-Man,” I get the distinct feeling that Tim Bradley is now the lead candidate to face him on June 9th


375 tickets were sold for last Friday night’s card at the Palms featuring Rico Ramos and Guillermo Rigondeaux for a gate of $14,525. Contrast that to the club show at the Woodland Hills Marriott I attended on that same evening which had 959 tickets sold and did a gate of nearly $40,000...The good news is that on April 28th, the rematch between Bernard Hopkins and Chad Dawson will be on HBO and not pay-per-view. The bad news is a good portion of the precious HBO budget will be used on that fight. There are two ways to look at this...Here is the latest edition of “Maxboxing Radio” with Corey Erdman and Yours Truly: will Prince and Cecil Fielder start talking again?...Greg Schiano to the Bucs? Yeah, not sure about that one...

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