Main Events promoter Kathy Duva said on Thursday afternoon the heavyweight title elimination fight between Tyson Fury and Steve Cunningham was “Heavyweights return to the Mecca.” Yes, a heavyweight fight, and a good one comes to the theatre at Madison Square Garden Saturday afternoon April 20th televised by the NBC Sports Network.
Fury, of Manchester England, widely known outside the United States accepted the fight. It has been difficult getting the proper opponent because of his height, 6 ft.9 inches of power. Cunningham, the two-time cruiserweight champion accepted the challenge.
And with the exception of this being an afternoon encounter, mainly because the fight will be televised in England, this does become a challenge for both. Cunningham has not faced the power that comes from Fury, but Cunningham does have the championship experience.
Duva is elated that the NBC Sports Network has joined a venture to be in the fight business. NBC estimates of reaching 3 million homes for their first two shows this year.
The fight is appealing because it is an official IBF heavyweight voluntary eliminator for the number two ranking. More so, a win for either can get an opportunity at Wladimir Klitschko. There has been talk that Fury or Cunningham can dethrone the Klitschko regime.
But, Klitschko was not the subject of talk in a small upstairs and packed room at Jack Dempsey’s restaurant in New York City. What were complimentary words became a war of words that made the anticipated fight more interesting. And if the fight needed any hype, what was said certainly achieved that purpose.
Cunningham is not known for picking a fight, with exception when he fought off bullies growing up in some of the not so nice areas of his hometown in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
“You can talk all you want,” said Cunningham to Fury. “The only reason this dude is winning fights is because he’s big. Shrink him down to 6’2, 6’3, 6’4, he’s garbage.”
For the moment, known about Fury is, a 20-0, 14 KO record is not garbage, though the opponents have not been formidable in what is a sad and mediocre heavyweight division. Regardless of the outcome, the Garden, even if the fight is in the adjacent theatre, is once again staging a heavyweight fight with significance.
And here is what became interesting after Cunningham spoke. Fury, whether being a showman or not, became known. Again, it is a heavyweight fight at the Garden, words reminiscent of Ali and Frazier, but not as theatric what we saw when Ali took the stage.
“This is a heavyweight versus a light heavyweight,” commented Fury. “No disrespect, to Steve because he’s probably the best opponent I have faced, a former world champion and I have never faced a world champion before. But I am a man on a mission and I am going to retire you Steve.”
He added, “You lost your last fight to Tomasz Adamek,” even though many said in December that Cunningham, 25-5, 12 KO’s, won that 12-round split decision.
And Fury, a Twitter fanatic, through his social media experience into the equation and that got to Cunningham. “I’d like to out my Twitter account on the bottom of them,” said Fury referring to the public seeing the bottom of Cunningham’s boots when he hits the canvas.
Duva was smiling. She should be. Her promotional company has not had this much excitement for a heavyweight Cunningham, since the 1980’s when Scott Frank debuted at the old Totawa Ice Rink in New Jersey.
And for Madison Square Garden, they for the moment are back in the heavyweight business.
Email Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com