Steve Cunningham to return vs. Natu Visinia on Oct. 18
Former RING cruiserweight champion Steve Cunningham will face undefeated heavyweight Natu Visinia in the main event of an Oct. 18 NBC Sports Network broadcast from the 2300 Club in Cunningham’s native Philadelphia, Main Events CEO Kathy Duva informed RingTV.com on Thursday.
In his last fight in April, Cunningham (27-6, 12 knockouts) rose from a fifth round knockdown and floored his rival in the final stanza of a 10-round unanimous decision over previously unbeaten southpaw Amir Mansour, who outweighed Cunningham by 16.5 pounds.
Cunningham is 3-4 in his past seven fights.
“This is the third undefeated heavyweight that I am facing and he has more career heavyweight fights than I do,” said Cunningham, 38. “I have fought more undefeated heavyweight fighters than some heavyweights fight in their entire career. I am up for the challenge. It is always a challenge fighting a young untested fighter but a job has to be done. We are going to do the job, get this victory and be impressive.”
A former left guard in football at Southern Illinois University where he majored in criminal justice, Visinia (10-0, 8 KOs) is coming off a unanimous decision over Jon Bolden in May. A native of Lakewood, Calif., Visinia, 29, lettered in football, wrestling and track and competed professionally in mixed martial arts for five bouts before switching to boxing.
Visinia joined the All-American Heavyweight camp, which produced U.S. Olympic heavyweight Dominic Breazeale and has trained and sparred with RING heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko as well as former titleholders Evander Holyfield, Lamon Brewster and Sergei Liakhovich.
“I am extremely excited for the opportunity to fight former cruiserweight champ Steve Cunningham,” said Visinia, who is promoted by Final Forum and Sal Musumeci. “As much as I admire his experience and accomplishments in the sport, I do not intend on leaving Philly without the win.”
In the co-main event, lightweight Jerry Belmontes will face Edner Cherry, the latter of whom unanimously decisioned Robert Osiobe in April. Cherry returned to action for the first time since February 2013 when he stopped Vicente Escobedo in the sixth round.
“I’m ready and hungry,” said Cherry, 32. “I guarantee the fans are going to get an exciting fight for as long as it lasts. I will show the world that I am the best 130-pound fighter in the world.”
Belmontes, 25, is attempting to rebound from consecutive split decision losses to WBC lightweight beltholder Omar Figueroa and Abner Cotto in April and August, respectively.
“Once again, our matchmakers, Jolene Mizzone and Russell Peltz, have come up with a pair of intriguing crossroads fights to entertain the ‘Fight Night’ fans,” said Duva, of the broadcast, which begins at 9 p.m. ET.
“Steve Cunningham is always in a great scrap and the undefeated Visinia is determined to make a statement. Meanwhile, the battle between Cherry and Belmontes promises a lot of action from two fighters who need to win in order to advance their careers.”