Tyson Fury thinks Steve Cunningham is a masquerade artist, a pretender best suited for cruiserweight, who will be out of his depth in the ring at the Madison Square Garden Theater on Saturday.
The 36-year-old Cunningham, no great surprise, begs to differ. He seemed to be quite acclimated to the heavyweight division when he met Tomasz Adamek back on Dec. 22, a fight which many folks thought he won, though the judges said otherwise.
I asked Don Charles, the man who trains Dereck Chisora, who fought and lost to Fury (age 24; 20-0 with 14 KOs; lives in Cheshire, England) back in July 2011, to assess the Fury-Cunningham scrap, which is promoted by Main Events.
"Fury beats Cunningham," Charles said to me in London, on Friday morning, before Chisora weighed in for his Saturday Wembley Arena clash against Hector Avila. Charles said the 6-foot-9 Fury is too big, hits too hard, and that it will be hard for the 6-3 Cunningham, in his third heavyweight fight after campaigning at cruiserweight, to get inside his jab. "Fury has fighting in his blood," Charles said, noting that the Brit is a Traveller, a nomadic people whose fighting roots go back generations.
Cunningham is a Philly fighter who you can't help but root for. We chatted a couple months back when this bout was announced, and actually talked matters other than boxing. Cunningham told me he's been a gun owner since 1996, after his Navy stint, and I admitted I don't quite see the fascination with guns in the U.S. He explained that he grew up rough, in South Philly, and he knows what bad people are capable of. "I know what it's like when your mailman is a crackhead," he told me. "I've seen how grimy the world is." Therefore, he obtains a sense of security knowing he is armed against the possibility that evil could unfold in front of him. "It's better to have it than not have it," he explained.
Of a Fury fight, which will run on NBC, Cunningham said he will fight the same way he did against Adamek, utilizing constant movement, and won't be put off by losing a controversial decision.