“ Being in the Navy, your limits are pushed beyond what you even know. That basically carried over into boxing. ”
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This week in boxing history, PBC remembers the first black heavyweight champion, a powerful showing by “The Greatest,” a knockout performance by “USS” Cunningham, a stoppage of the “Bronx Bull” and one of the greatest lightweights of all time.
Steve Cunningham entered Saturday’s 200-pound title fight against champion Krzysztof Glowacki with a history of struggles against southpaws and Polish titleholders. Those struggles continued at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Steve Cunningham looks to buck history as he returns to the 200-pound division to face champion Krzysztof Glowacki
When Steve Cunningham enters the ring Saturday, he’ll attempt to take down an undefeated champion who is 10 years his junior. If the 39-year-old former heavyweight pulls it off, he will have defied some long odds.
Win vs Felipe Romero 19-11-1
Mar 17, 2017 • Santander Arena, Reading, Pennsylvania, USA
Steve Cunningham WINS against Felipe Romero by UD in Round 6 of 6
LOSS vs Krzysztof Glowacki
Apr 16, 2016 • Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York
Krzysztof Glowacki WINS against Steve Cunningham by UD in Round 12 of 12
Draw vs Antonio Tarver
Aug 14, 2015 • Prudential Center, Newark, New Jersey
Antonio Tarver DRAWS with Steve Cunningham by DR in Round 12 of 12
Loss vs Vyacheslav Glazkov 19-0-1
Mar 14, 2015 • Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Steve Cunningham LOSES to Vyacheslav Glazkov by UD in Round 12 of 12
Win vs Natu Visinia 10-0-0
Oct 18, 2014 • 2300 Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Steve Cunningham WINS against Natu Visinia by RTD in Round 7 of 10
WIN vs Amir Mansour 20-0-0
Apr 04, 2014 • Liacouras Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Amir Mansour LOSES to Steve Cunningham by UD in Round 10 of 10
WIN vs Manuel Quezada 29-7-0
Dec 14, 2013 • Resorts International, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA
Manuel Quezada LOSES to Steve Cunningham by UD in Round 8 of 8
LOSS vs Tyson Fury 20-0-0
Apr 20, 2013 • Madison Square Garden Theater, New York, New York, USA
Tyson Fury WINS against Steve Cunningham by KO in Round 7 of 12
LOSS vs Tomasz Adamek 47-2-0
Dec 22, 2012 • Sands Casino Resort, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA
Tomasz Adamek WINS against Steve Cunningham by SD in Round 12 of 12
Win vs Jason Gavern 21-10-4
Sep 08, 2012 • Prudential Center, Newark, New Jersey, USA
Steve Cunningham WINS against Jason Gavern by UD in Round 10 of 10
LOSS vs Yoan Pablo Hernandez 25-1-0
Feb 04, 2012 • Fraport Arena, Frankfurt, Hessen, Germany
Yoan Pablo Hernandez WINS against Steve Cunningham by UD in Round 12 of 12
Loss vs Yoan Pablo Hernandez 24-1-0
Oct 01, 2011 • Jahnsportforum, Neubrandenburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany
Steve Cunningham LOSES to Yoan Pablo Hernandez by TD in Round 6 of 12
Win vs Enad Licina 19-2-0
Feb 12, 2011 • RWE Rhein-Ruhr Sporthalle, Muelheim, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
Steve Cunningham WINS against Enad Licina by UD in Round 12 of 12
Win vs Troy Ross 23-1-0
Jun 05, 2010 • Jahnsportforum, Neubrandenburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany
Steve Cunningham WINS against Troy Ross by TKO in Round 5 of 12
Win vs Wayne Braithwaite 23-3-0
Jul 11, 2009 • BankAtlantic Center, Sunrise, Florida, USA
Steve Cunningham WINS against Wayne Braithwaite by UD in Round 12 of 12
Loss vs Tomasz Adamek 35-1-0
Dec 11, 2008 • Prudential Center, Newark, New Jersey, USA
Steve Cunningham LOSES to Tomasz Adamek by SD in Round 12 of 12
Win vs Marco Huck 19-0-0
Dec 29, 2007 • Seidensticker Halle, Bielefeld, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
Steve Cunningham WINS against Marco Huck by TKO in Round 12 of 12
WIN vs Krzysztof Wlodarczyk 37-1-0
May 26, 2007 • Spodek, Katowice, Poland
Krzysztof Wlodarczyk LOSES to Steve Cunningham by MD in Round 12 of 12
LOSS vs Krzysztof Wlodarczyk 36-1-0
Nov 25, 2006 • Torwar Sport Hall, Warsaw, Poland
Krzysztof Wlodarczyk WINS against Steve Cunningham by SD in Round 12 of 12
Win vs Lloyd Bryan 21-11-0
Jan 07, 2006 • Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, USA
Steve Cunningham WINS against Lloyd Bryan by TKO in Round 5 of 10
Win vs Kelvin Davis 21-3-1
Sep 03, 2005 • Gund Arena, Cleveland, Ohio, USA
Steve Cunningham WINS against Kelvin Davis by UD in Round 12 of 12
Win vs Guillermo Jones 31-2-2
Apr 02, 2005 • DCU Center, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA
Steve Cunningham WINS against Guillermo Jones by SD in Round 10 of 10
Win vs Forrest Neal 16-4-0
Oct 02, 2004 • Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, USA
Steve Cunningham WINS against Forrest Neal by TKO in Round 4 of 8
WIN vs Sebastiaan Rothmann 17-2-2
May 22, 2004 • Carnival City Casino, Brakpan, Gauteng, South Africa
Sebastiaan Rothmann LOSES to Steve Cunningham by MD in Round 10 of 10
Win vs Terry McGroom 19-5-2
Sep 20, 2003 • Mohegan Sun Casino, Uncasville, Connecticut, USA
Steve Cunningham WINS against Terry McGroom by UD in Round 8 of 8
Win vs Demetrius Jenkins 21-8-1
Mar 29, 2003 • Spectrum, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Steve Cunningham WINS against Demetrius Jenkins by UD in Round 8 of 8
Win vs Joseph Awinongya 10-3-4
Jul 27, 2002 • Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Steve Cunningham WINS against Joseph Awinongya by UD in Round 8 of 8
Win vs Caseny Truesdale 7-41-2
Sep 29, 2001 • Martinsville, Virginia, USA
Steve Cunningham WINS against Caseny Truesdale by PTS in Round 4 of 4
Win vs Shawn Townsend 1-4-0
Aug 30, 2001 • Charleston, South Carolina, USA
Steve Cunningham WINS against Shawn Townsend by TKO in Round 3 of 0
Win vs Shawn Townsend 1-3-0
Jul 26, 2001 • Charleston, South Carolina, USA
Steve Cunningham WINS against Shawn Townsend by TKO in Round 6 of 0
Win vs John Battle 5-4-0
Jun 28, 2001 • The Plex, Charleston, South Carolina, USA
Steve Cunningham WINS against John Battle by KO in Round 1 of 0
Win vs Mike Williams 7-9-0
May 24, 2001 • The Plex, Charleston, South Carolina, USA
Steve Cunningham WINS against Mike Williams by TKO in Round 6 of 0
Win vs Richard Perry 1-3-1
May 12, 2001 • Johnson City, Tennessee, USA
Steve Cunningham WINS against Richard Perry by KO in Round 1 of 0
Win vs Jeff Bowman 7-34-1
Apr 28, 2001 • Nashville, Tennessee, USA
Steve Cunningham WINS against Jeff Bowman by TKO in Round 1 of 0
Win vs Kanovas Alexander 0-5-0
Apr 12, 2001 • Gaillard Municipal Auditorium, Charleston, South Carolina, USA
Steve Cunningham WINS against Kanovas Alexander by KO in Round 1 of 0
Win vs Nate Frazier 0-1-0
Mar 10, 2001 • Virginia, USA
Steve Cunningham WINS against Nate Frazier by KO in Round 1 of 0
Win vs Robert Marsh 4-4-0
Feb 17, 2001 • Radisson Hotel, Charleston, South Carolina, USA
Steve Cunningham WINS against Robert Marsh by PTS in Round 4 of 4
WIN vs Norman Jones 0-0-0
Oct 28, 2000 • Jarrell's Gym, Savannah, Georgia, USA
Norman Jones LOSES to Steve Cunningham by SD in Round 4 of 4
Steve Cunningham took up boxing while a member of the U.S. Navy, and the aviation boatswain's mate shined from the start. After serving aboard aircraft carriers, the Philadelphia native has continued to wield his own firepower in the ring. Twice a world champion at 200 pounds, “USS” Cunningham now has his sights set on regaining his spot atop the division.
From the flight deck to decking guys
A native of Philadelphia, one of the most boxing-rich cities in America, Cunningham began adding to his hometown’s storied legacy in the sport after joining the Navy.
He gained a reputation as a tough fighter on the streets of Philly, but he began his amateur career while based at Norfolk Naval Station in Virginia.
“It was something that burned in me,” Cunningham told SaturdayNightBoxing.com in 2012. “I wanted to fight. I wanted to box. I wanted to learn. I wanted to do this. My first amateur fight was against the light heavyweight champ of the Navy, and I beat him.”
Cunningham served in the Navy from 1994-98, serving on the aircraft carriers USS America and USS Enterprise.
He went on to win the 1998 National Golden Gloves at 178 pounds before making his professional debut in October 2000 in Savannah, Georgia, earning a four-round split decision over Norman Jones.
The road warrior
After winning his first 19 pro fights, Cunningham traveled to Poland to battle Krzysztof Wlodarczyk on his home turf in 200-pound world title fight in November 2006.
It would be the start of plenty of roadwork for Cunningham, who has spanned the globe, frequently fighting in front of hostile crowds.
“What excites me is fighting in the lion’s den, fighting at somebody else’s hometown where you know they’ve got the advantage, where they are expected to win,” Cunningham told Boxingnews24.com in 2014. “It’s like an extra challenge for me.”
Cunningham would end up losing a debatable split decision to Wlodarczyk, but he returned to Poland in May 2007 and won a majority decision to earn his first world title.
Cunningham then gained a 12th-round TKO of future champ Marco Huck in Germany before losing his title to Tomas Adamek in a fierce back-and-forth battle in December 2008.
Cunningham would become a world champion once again in October 2010 when he earned the vacated title with a fifth-round stoppage of Troy Ross in Germany.
A hard-working heavyweight
After losing a pair of title fights to Yoan Pablo Hernandez in Germany, Cunningham moved up to heavyweight.
He won his debut in the division in September 2012, taking a unanimous decision against Jason Gavern in Newark, New Jersey, but he lost to Adamek again in December.
Cunningham then faced undefeated British man-mountain Tyson Fury at New York’s Madison Square Garden in April 2013. He sent Fury to the canvas in Round 2, but Fury rebounded and KO’d Cunningham in Round 7.
Cunningham bounced back with a trio of wins, including a particularly gutty performance against Amir Mansour in April 2014 in which Cunningham rallied to earn a unanimous decision after getting floored twice in the fifth round.
He experienced a disappointing setback in March 2015, though, when he lost a highly controversial decision to Vyacheslav Glazkov in Montreal.