Lem’s latest: Mansour-Cunningham card boasts Curtis Stevens, Mike Lee
Unbeaten heavyweight Amir Mansour and former RING cruiserweight champion Steve Cunningham engaged in some verbal fireworks during a Wednesday press conference in advance of their headliner on Friday at the Liacouras Center on the Temple University campus in Cunningham's hometown of Philadelphia.
Cunningham took a shot at the fact that Mansour, nicknamed "Hardcore," has served time in prison.
"In actuality, who isn't from the streets?" asked Cunningham, 37, who will face Mansour on a card promoted by Main Events CEO Kathy Duva that will take place on an NBC Sports Network's Fight Night broadcast.
"Who isn't hard out here? We are all hard when we need to be. A smart man knows how to survive, when to fight and when not to fight. We all have the rough, tough story. No man on this Earth scares me especially within a four-corner ring with rules."
Cunningham (26-6, 12 knockouts) is coming off December's unanimous decision over Manuel Quezada, helping him rebound from a seventh-round stoppage loss to Tyson Fury, whom Cunningham floored in the second round in April of last year.
"You could never tell me that I am not going to be a world champion. I have faith. I back down from no man. I am getting in this ring to win," said Cunningham, who is 2-4 in his past six bouts.
"We are going to get it on Friday. My main advantage is experience. This is boxing. We sign up to fight. I never worry about anyone's power. I have been facing these type of situations since day one."
Meanwhile, Mansour said he tries to distance himself from the past while focusing on the future.
"I am not trying to scare him or act like some sort of gangster or street thug. I despise the streets. I despise anyone who carries themselves like a thug or a gangster. I don't brag about being incarcerated," said Mansour.
"I am ashamed of being incarcerated. I am disappointed in myself. I am not using prison to be a pedestal for my toughness. I don't deny who I am as a person. I don't deny my history, my present or my future. My future is to be successful in this game right here."
A 41-year-old southpaw from Wilmington, Del., Mansour (20-0, 15 KOs) has won four of his past five fights by stoppage and was last in the ring for a seventh-round stoppage of Kelvin Price in December.
"I have never seen a skill set that can outmatch mine and I have never had to use all my skill sets. Sometimes I need to utilize strength instead of skill. I don't have a padded record. I didn't have the luxury of fighting a bunch of bums. I have a very talented skill set of boxing. I can box. I can outbox you. You can't beat me in boxing," said Mansour.
"I am not letting anyone take my [regional] title. I am coming to get you. You are not going to beat me with no jab. You are going to have to come and get this work. We all go through problems with our friends and family but you are not going to take my title. You are going to have to come and get this work. [Cunningham] was a great cruiserweight champion but this is the heavyweight division and that was a few years ago."
CURTIS STEVENS-TUREANO JOHNSON
Another bout features Brooklyn middleweight Curtis Stevens (26-4, 19 KOs) against Tureano Johnson (14-0, 10 KOs). Coming off January's 46-second stoppage of Patrick Majewski, Stevens has said, "Don't blink," to fans.
In victory over Majewski, Stevens rebounded from November's eighth-round stoppage loss to WBA 160-pound titleholder Gennady Golovkin. Prior to facing Golovkin, Stevens, who is promoted by Main Events, had been on a run of four wins, which included three first-round knockouts.
"I will go in there just take care of business," said Stevens, 29. "Yes, [Johnson]'s undefeated but he's fought 14 softies. Come Friday, he is going to be in there with the real thing. I am not going to tell him; I will have to show him."
Promoted by Gary Shaw, the 30-year-old Johnson had plenty to say.
"It is a pleasure to be back here. I appreciate the opportunity despite that I was given less than a month's notice. I am going to go in there and beat this guy up. He said I am a slapper and a bit sloppy. Come Friday night, someone is going to get b–ch-slapped. I am going to enjoy this," said Johnson.
"But I cannot say the same for him. Let's pray I don't put him in the hospital. This is the most important fight of my life but I don't think it is the most difficult. I never fought anyone with Curtis Stevens' power but he is not going to catch me. That dude is not catching me. There is nothing he can show me."
MIKE LEE-PETER LEWISON, SULLIVAN BARRERA-LARRY PRYOR
Chicago-based light heavyweight Mike Lee (11-0, 6 KOs) returns to action against Peter Lewison (6-0, 5 KOs). The 26-year-old Lee was last in the ring for a unanimous decision over Paul Harness in September 2012.
A Notre Dame graduate appearing in several Subway commercials, Lee will face a tough task in Lewison, who was last in the ring for a majority decision victory over Mike Sawyer in October 2013.
"I am really excited to fight here in Philly," said Lee. "I want to thank Main Events for putting me on this card. We had a great camp and a great team and I am excited to show everyone what I am all about."
Also, Cuban light heavyweight Sullivan Barrera (10-0, 6 KOs) will make his debut under the Main Events banner against Larry Pryor (7-8, 4 KOs) and junior lightweight Edner Cherry (31-6-2, 17 KOs) will face Robert Osiobe (14-8-4, 6 KOs). Cherry is returning to action for the first time since February 2013, when he stopped Vicente Escobedo in their sixth round.
STEVE SMOGER TO CONDUCT REFEREE CLINIC
Referee Steve Smoger will conduct an informational, three-hour referee clinic on April 12 starting at 9:30 a.m., ET at the Marquis of Granby Pub Restaurant Banquet Facility in Toronto, centrally located at 418 Church Street minutes away from historic Maple Leaf Gardens.
Smoger's 30-year career includes officiating more than 850 bouts, averaging more than 27 per year and highlighted by more than 165 world title fights.
"I am honored to address my fellow brother and sister officials of Canada by way of my referee clinic. I have found in the past that these clinics have been both beneficial to the attendees and myself," said Smoger.
"I am delighted during the clinic, as part of the finishing question and answer part of the clinic, to discuss various aspects of officiating and refereeing with real life examples through some of the memorable title fights with boxers that I have had the privilege of sharing the ring with in my capacity as referee."