Amir “Hardcore” Mansour, 20-0 (15), has normally mowed down his opposition some 75% of the time over a 17 year period minus a 9 year period of inactivity. Fighting out of Wilmington, DE, and training in South Philly the southpaw heavyweight has gained many fans since coming back in 2010 winning all 10 of his bouts 8 by way of knockout.
Mansour has always reminded this writer of a heavyweight Marvin Hagler but with much more power! Except for two bouts in Atlantic City he has won eight at the Dover Downs Casino. He is not afraid of “hunting” his prey down and on April 4th at the Liacouras Center, in North Philadelphia he takes on former 2-time Cruiserweight champion Steve “USS” Cunningham, 26-6 (12), out of Philadelphia. The show will be on USA NBC Sports Network and promoted by Main Events, Peltz Boxing Promotions and BAM Boxing.
Which Cunningham shows up will be interesting. The one who fought Tomasz Adamek the first time going to war or the counter puncher he was in their second match. Possibly Cunningham will mix-it up but he knows Mansour is a better puncher than the former cruiserweight champion Adamek.
This writer likes both fighters in and out of the ring but I’m not saying I would be satisfied with a draw. Mansour is No. 13 in the IBF ratings and Cunningham unranked since moving up to heavyweight. This is already a highly anticipated match. Both fighters will be well represented by their fans in this one.
In Mansour’s last bout he was matched with an extremely tall and awkward boxer in Kelvin Price. He dropped Price in the 5th and 7th rounds. It was a very slopping fight with Price doing more holding than fighting. Mansour tried his best and finally got through the long arm defense of Price to stop him. In December Cunningham won all 8 rounds defeating Manuel Quezada. In his last two fights for the cruiserweight title he lost to southpaw Yoan Pablo Hernandez.
Now under new management and not with the popular Keith Stouffer who always made Mansour available this writer managed to go direct to the fighter himself for some questions.
KEN HISSNER: I’ve been a fan since first seeing you upon your return in 2010. Having a mutual friend in Stevie Traitz made it that much easier. I’m sure both of you have sparred with Chazz Witherspoon but have you and Steve Cunningham sparred together?
AMIR MANSOUR: After being away for more than 8 years the first person I sparred with was Steve Cunningham. When we were finished I went back to the locker room and cried. I knew then it was a good gauge of what I hadn’t lost and that someday I would be fighting for a championship.
KEN HISSNER: Who will be in your corner the night of the night of the fight?
AMIR MANSOUR: Moses Mosley who has been there for all 20 of my fights. Danny Davis and David Sewell will also be in the corner.
KEN HISSNER: I see it’s scheduled for 10 rounds. Does that mean your USBA title will not be at stake even though Cunningham is No. 5?
AMIR MANSOUR: It is a USBA title defense. The only reason I had a fight scheduled for 12 in the past is because it was a WBF Intercontinental title fight.
KEN HISSNER: This will be your fourth fight in Philly but not since 1996. Though you train in Philly do you think Cunningham, who by the way hasn’t fought in Philly since 2003 will have an advantage living in Philly?
AMIR MANSOUR: I don’t care where the fight is. It could be in Philly or in Mexico but I’m sure I will have my share of fans and the fans won’t be able to enter the ring so it won’t matter.
KEN HISSNER: The talk among the writers is Cunningham by decision or Mansour by knockout. Will you be looking for a knockout?
AMIR MANSOUR: I don’t expect to get out boxed by some pitter pat jab. Though I thought he won the second Adamek fight he will need more than a jab when we fight. The second time we sparred I had a bad back and needed the money and hoped they didn’t see how I wrapped myself up. I know I went 10 rounds with Dominick Guinn so have no problem going 10.
KEN HISSNER: Is it true the winner will jump into the vacant No. 2 spot in the IBF ratings?
AMIR MANSOUR: I know nothing about that but it would be great.
KEN HISSNER: Who is in camp with you as far as sparring goes?
AMIR MANSOUR: Where and with whom I am not able to say except I have two sparring partners with styles similar to his.
KEN HISSNER: I see both of your promoters will be involved though J Russell Peltz is also an advisor for the co-promoter Main Events. I bet it was the idea of Peltz knowing how he loves Philly pairings.
AMIR MANSOUR: All I know is that after my last fight I got a phone call asking me if I wanted the fight. I said as long as he is ranked (No. 5 in the USBA) I will fight him.
KEN HISSNER: I know you wanted to fight Tomasz Adamek in the past. Since Cunningham lost two very close fights to him will a win assure you a fight with the No. 4 contender also promoted by Main Events?
AMIR MANSOUR: Adamek is not adamic about fighting me. If they change their (promoter) mind after the fight I will fight him.
KEN HISSNER: The writer’s sometimes get on me for cheering for one of the fighters I’m covering. It will be difficult trying not to cheer in this one. I’m sure the tension up to fight time will be high not only for the fans but for the two of you knowing each other. Right?
AMIR MANSOUR: They came to me. We are not friends. I don’t think we’ve talked for more than 10 seconds.
KEN HISSNER: You know I wish you well in this one and have to tell you I’m anti friends fighting one another but they sometimes can make the best fights. Any predictions for the outcome of the fight?
AMIR MANSOUR: I respect him for what he’s done. I’m not saying how well I’ve did in our sparring sessions one way or another. I may drop him in Naziim’s (Richardson/trainer) or Buddy’s (Osborn/cut man) lap or even yours if you are at ringside (won’t be mine since Greg Sirb, PA Executive Director barred all writers from ringside).