The Philly fans and writers are really getting excited about the USBA heavyweight title defense by southpaw Amir Mansour, 20-0 (15), of Wilmington, DE, against his No. 5 contender and former 2-time world cruiserweight champion Steve “USS” Cunningham, 26-6 (14), of Philly at the Liacouras Center (Temple University) Friday night. This event is promoted by Kathy Duva (Main Events), J Russell Peltz (Peltz Boxing) and Brittany Rogers (BAM Boxing) with matchmaking by Peltz, Rogers and Main Events Jolene Mizzone.
When Mansour won his last fight in December in Atlantic City after 7 grueling rounds of 6:07 Kelvin Price leaning and holding him Mansour before dropping him twice and finishing it in the 7th. Matchmaker J Russell Peltz went over to Cunningham’s trainer Naziim Richardson and asked if Cunningham would meet Mansour. It wasn’t a done deal then but is now. It was the first time Peltz saw Mansour other than film and this writers 10th time. If anyone is judging Mansour on that fight they are in for a big surprise.
Mansour had been out of boxing for 9 years when in his first sparring session it was none other than Cunningham. He felt he did good enough that he went back to the dressing room and cried. He felt if he could hold his own with Cunningham he still had it. They sparred once more after that and Mansour had a brace on his back but didn’t tell anyone because he needed the money. He’s won 8 of his 10 fights since coming back by knockout while winning the vacant USBA over Maurice Harris in August over 12 rounds. He’s trained by Moses Robinson and was managed by the popular Keith Stoffer of DE up until his last fight.
Cunningham is known to be one of the hardest training boxers in the city. He won the IBF cruiser title in 2006 and lost it to Tomas Adamek in 2008 by the narrowest of points by split decision. Cunningham showed his heart getting off the canvas 3 times that night. When Adamek moved up to heavyweight Cunningham won the vacant IBF title. He has defeated the current cruiser WBC champion Kryzsztof Wlodarczyk of Poland in a rematch and current WBO cruiser champ Marco Huck, a Serb fighting out of Germany. He was the best cruiser in the world at the time. He got the short end of the stick defending against Cuban southpaw Yoan Hernandez Pablo Hernandez and lost in the rematch. It was decided between him, his manager and wife Livvy Cunningham it was time to move up to heavyweight where the real money was.
Cunningham won his first fight over 10 rounds against Jason Gavern. The same Gavern on short notice was stopped by Mansour in the 1st round 7 months later.
Cunningham would then lose in a rematch with Adamek again by split decision and probably closer than the first one. He then traveled to the UK taking on 6:09 Tyson Fury dropping him in the 2nd and later being knocked out in the 7th. Many including this writer felt Fury used an illegal tactic putting his left forearm over Cunningham’s eyes and delivering the right hand. In December Cunningham defeated Manuel Quezada over 8 rounds. Saturday night in Atlantic City Cunningham was a no show while co-feature fighter Curtis “Showtime” Stevens took question prior to the Main Event card.
Middleweight Stevens, 26-4 (19) takes on the Bahamas Tureano Johnson, 14-0 (10), now living in Georgia over 10 rounds. There will be 6 other bouts on the undercard featuring PR’s Roberto Jose Acevedo, Edner Cherry, Philly’s Hasson Young, Cuban Sullivan Barrera, Mike Lee and Philly’s Khalib Whitmore.