|Cunningham Wins USBA Title and Stevens a Disputed Stoppage Winner in Philly Friday
By Ken Hissner, Doghouse Boxing (April 5, 2014)
Photo © Rich Graessle, Main Events
It was a clash of heavyweights in Philadelphia Friday night at the Liacouras Center (Temple U) in a USBA title fight with Philly’s Steve “USS” Cunningham, 27-6 (16), taking the title from Amir “Hardcore” Mansour, 20-1 (15), of Penns Grove, NJ, on all score cards 97-90 Rubenstein, 95-92 Braslow and Poturaj while DHB had it 94-93 Mansour.
Main Events, Peltz Boxing and BAM Boxing promoted the show while Jolene Mizzone (ME), J Russell Peltz (PB) and Brittany Rogers (BAM) did the matchmaking. It telecast by NBCSN Fight Night.
Mansour the USBA champion was introduced first though defending his title. This was most unusual. The fight itself lived up to all expectations!
Mansour landed first with a right hook to the rib cage. Cunningham was staying in front of him and was caught with a wicked jab knocking the head of Cunningham back. Cunningham came back with a left. In the 2nd Mansour buckled the knees of Cunningham who was cut on the left eye brow. Cunningham is holding while bleeding from the cut and the mouth.
In the 3rd Cunningham came out landing a pair of straight rights to the head of Mansour. Cunningham countering well moving away from Mansour only to come back and engage him in the middle of the ring. In the 4th a Cunningham right hand buckled the knees of Mansour who has swelling under his left eye. Mansour hasn’t matched Cunningham’s accuracy so far.
In the 5th a tremendous right hook dropped Cunningham. He got up and was quickly dropped again. It came close to being stopped when the bell rang. Any other ref would have possibly stopped it. In the 6th it was Cunningham coming back boxing smartly making Mansour miss until near the end of the round when Mansour had Cunningham trapped in his own corner at the bell.
In the 7th Mansour came out bouncing up and down trying to put some energy back into himself. He eventually landed 3 wicked body shots as Cunningham clinched and looked to his corner smiling. He seemed fresher than Mansour at this point. In the 8th Mansour rocked Cunningham only to have a solid right to the midsection of Mansour. Cunningham is driven into the ropes as these two warriors are fighting on heart alone.
In the 9th Cunningham lands several solid body shots and is showing distain for Mansour who is swinging wildly landing on occasion. In the 10th and final round a straight left dropped Cunningham who was off balance. Referee Smoger ruled it a slip? “I felt it was more of a push than a punch,” said Smoger. Later in the round Cunningham knocked Mansour off balance with his glove touching the canvas scored as a knockdown. It was a battle to the end!
Middleweight Curtis “Showtime” Stevens, 27-4 (20), of Brownsville, NY, was awarded a 10th round stoppage at 2:09 over southpaw Olympian Tureano Johnson, 14-1 (10), of Nassau, BAH, now out of Georgia. Referee Gary Rosato seemed to stop the fight to quick as the fans let him know it in a loud response. It was a shame of a finish to one of the best fights this writer has ever seen live. It seemed Stevens needed a stoppage to pull it out.
The 1st round topped the previous 5 fights on the card! It was non-stop punching with Stevens mostly on the ropes countering and Johnson on the attack. In the 2nd another brutal round of body punching and uppercuts to the chin popping heads up by both warriors with Stevens once again on the ropes. In the 3rd Johnson seemed to have the best until suddenly Stevens rocked Johnson with 3 straight punches. Referee Rosato called for a low blow by Johnson giving Stevens some needed rest.
In the 4th Stevens tried moving and boxing but Johnson was right on him landing 3 overhand rights to the head of Stevens. Back with 9 straight punches was Stevens. Near the end of the round with Johnson looking in bad shape he came back. The fans going wild!
In the 5th Johnson landed over a dozen straight punches before Stevens fired back. Stevens came back looking like he had Johnson out on his feet when Johnson came back firing chopping rights having Stevens on the defense. As the bell rang starting the 6th Stevens looked down at his wife at ringside as Johnson came in staring up where he left off landing half a dozen punches mostly to the head of Stevens. It doesn’t seem this is Stevens fight on the ropes but he has little choice with the pressure from Johnson but he is doing as much as he can in return.
In the 7th Stevens tries walking Johnson to the ropes with little success as Johnson’s two-fisted attack continues. Against the ropes Stevens fires back but Johnson is non-stop. In the 8th Stevens starts boxing and countering Johnson well. Stevens gets a third warning for pushing Johnson who is back on him pinning him against the ropes. Stevens goes down into a squat and comes up with half a dozen punches before Johnson is back on the attack with Stevens on the ropes at the bell.
In the 9th Stevens starts boxing well only to find himself on the ropes. Both fighters are throwing leather as Stevens ties up Johnson. Then Stevens comes back with a flurry of punches. In the 10th and final round Stevens doesn’t seem to have much left on his punches as Rosato keeps getting between the fighters. Johnson is still strong until a left hook puts Johnson into the ropes hurt and suddenly Rosato steps in and the audience let him know of their displeasure. You could sense Rosato was looking to jump in with his actions prior to stoppage.
It wasn’t the first time either was hurt and an obvious quick stoppage by the referee. Both warriors were hurt throughout. Johnson seemed well ahead (87-84 and 89-82 twice) and the fans cheered as a handler of Johnson’s lead him around the ring.
ALL 3 judges had Johnson well ahead that Stevens needed a stoppage to win. Braslow 87-84, Poturaj 89-82 and Benoist 89-82 all had it for Johnson. DHB had it 87-84 Johnson. Though Johnson was upset by the stoppage at the time he would later say “I lost fair and square”.
Super middleweight Lee Campbell, 7-0 (3), of Laurinburg, NC, won a majority decision over Roberto Acevedo, 8-2 (5), out of Baymon, PR, now living in Miami, FL, over 8 rounds.
In the 1st round the muscular Campbell landed some nice shots chasing Acevedo whose long rights kept him at bay as much as possible. In the 2nd Acevedo landed a terrific right uppercut. Then on 2 different occasions held Campbell behind the head and landed right uppercuts. In the 3rd a pair of overhand rights rocked Acevedo and opened a cut under the left eye high on the cheek bone.
In the 5th Campbell threw and landed his first 2 uppercuts to the chin of Acevedo. By the 7th both boxers seemed spent. It was a good 6 rounds up until then. Campbell has power in this left hooks but lacks a straight right looping it. Acevedo coming off a 1st round knockout is not showing much in this one since the 2nd round.
Referee was Clark. Scoring by Poturaj 76-76, Rubenstein 77-75 and Somma 78-74. DHB 79-73.
In the opening bout welterweight Edner ”Cherry Bomb” Cherry, 32-6-2 (17), of Nassau, BAH, now out of Wauchula, FL won a lack luster decision over Robert “Super” Osiobe, 14-9-4 (6), a Nigerian out of Las Vegas, NV, over 8 rounds. It was Cherry’s first fight in over a year.
In the 3rd Cherry buckled the knees of Isiobe with a wild left to the head. He’s been trying to knock his opponent out from the opening bell missing more than landing. In the 4th a left uppercut by Cherry rocked Isiobe. In the 5th Isiobe landed a solid lead right to the chin of Cherry that didn’t seem to have any effect.
In the 7th Cherry rocked Isiobe just prior to the bell making him hold. Cherry had a slight cut outside the left eye that cut-man Joey Eye is taking care of. Referee Shawn Clark had his work cut out with a lot of holding going on.
Scoring by Somma 77-75, Benoist 79-73 and Braslow 78-74 as did DHB.
Light heavy Cuban Sullivan Barrera, 11-0 (6), out of Miami, FL, pitched a shut out over 6 rounds over Larry “Hit Man” Pryor, 7-9 (4), of Frederick, MD. Pryor had been out of the ring for a couple of years.
Just prior to the bell ending the 1st round a left hook by Barrera knocked Pryor onto the lower ropes but before referee Rosato could get in for a count Barrera landed a right to the head. In the 2nd they landed rights to the jaws at the same time. The rest of the way Herrera controlled keeping his hands low trying to lure Pryor in. All 3 judges Rubenstein, Poturaj and Benoist had it 60-53 as did DHB.
Light heavyweight Mike Lee, 12-0 (7), of Chicago, IL, stopped Peter “Lightning” Lewison, 6-1 (5), of Georgetown, CI, at 1:39 of the 6th and final round when top referee Steve Smoger waved it off shortly after a knockdown.
Lee controlled the first 3 rounds. In the 4th Lee landed a good combination that was followed by a lead right. In the 5th Lewison was bleeding from the mouth and showing little offense. In the 6th Lee dropped Lewison who got up not looking like he was in good shape. Lee came forward and landed numerous punches before referee Smoger waved it off. There were no complaints from the losers corner.
Junior welter Evincil “The Prize Fighter” Dixon, 4-4-1 (2), of Lancaster, PA, scored 2 knockdowns stopping Edgardo Torres, 2-3 (2), of Vineland, NJ, at 0:15 of the 2nd round as referee Clark waved it off.
In the 1st round a straight right hand by Dixon dropped Torres. “I was surprised he got up,” said Dixon. In the 2nd round a right, left, right combination dropped Torres forcing referee Clark to wave it off. Torres was a late sub.
In what was a “strange” press conference held afterwards by Main Events CEO Kathy Duva it was more of a celebration because the press was not asked if there were any questions. Amir Mansour was taken to a hospital,” said Duva. Cunningham’s trainer Naziim Richardson showed class and concern saying he hoped Mansour would be all right.
After the press conference this writer asked Cunningham if he was surprised of the no knockdown call in the final round. “No, it wasn’t much of a punch,” said Cunningham. He was then asked if he would give Mansour a rematch. “If he wants a re-match and the money is big like from HBO fine,” said Cunningham.
Nutrition played a big part in the final outcome. Few boxers today are as hard working and in the condition of Steve Cunningham with the possible exception at the age of 49 another Philadelphian the IBF light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins who is also trained by Richardson.
Ken Hissner responds to all his emails at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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