Tuesday, May 30, 2023  |



Steadfast Steve Cunningham won’t overlook ‘old’ Tarver

Fighters Network
Steve Cunningham (R) boxed well but the judges awarded a unanimous decision to Vyacheslav Glazkov in March 2015. Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images.

Steve Cunningham (R) boxed well but the judges awarded a unanimous decision to Vyacheslav Glazkov in March 2015. Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images.

Forty, schmorty.

Age is just a number, and vet Steve Cunningham isn’t even a tiny bit allowing himself the luxury of thinking he has it in the bag as he looks to his Aug. 14 fight against ultra-vet Antonio Tarver in New Jersey, on Spike.

“I hear this and that, that he’s 40-something,” said the 38-year-old New Jersey resident, a longtime Main Events boxer now under the Al Haymon advisory umbrella. “When is the boxing world gonna wake up and realize it’s not about age and about names, it’s about the guys fighting?”

He referenced two NAMES who got it on May 2, in the ridiculously ballyhooed clash which was the definition of a DOA souffle.

“You had two guys and it didn’t live up to the hype,” Cunningham told me. “On August 14, you got two guys who don’t have that money, we going to try and get there. We know Tarver, we know he puts up a good fight.”

Tarver (R) in 2011 (Torsten Blackwood/Getty)

Tarver (R) in 2011 (Torsten Blackwood/Getty)

And we know he’s 46 … that he’s in Hopkins territory – meaning he’s fighting at a world-class level at an age where he’s not supposed to be able to do so. But Johnathon Banks found out that age was not an obstacle to Tarver connecting and stopping him (in Round 7) last December.

Indeed, he does have youth on his side, to a degree, but Cunningham, who got his career signature win when daughter Kennedy’s heart transplant went perfectly six months ago, told me he’s preparing as if he’s fighting a young lion. “I’m still preparing for a mean, hard fight,” he said. “Because a fight is still a fight, at 40, 46, 50 …

“The age thing as an edge is minuscule … the key is my will to win, and the game-plan trainer Naazim Richardson (who Cunningham calls “the mad scientist”) gives me.”

He and Naz have tried to accentuate something new every fight, he told me. Sick jab one time, right hand leads … last time it was body shots against Czar Glazkov … and those scored well … but not well enough to convince the judges.


Cunningham is still in a mood when it comes to the arbiters who, he thinks, dropped the ball horrifically when they deemed Glazkov the winner of their March 12 tangle.

I asked him if he and his scientist friend aren’t tempted to accept the fact that too many times, the judges haven’t scored Cunningham fights they way they and many, many watchers thought they should have been scored … and thus decide to fight in a more “devil may care” manner, look to press and aggress and secure a stoppage.

No, the fighter answered, he will still adhere to a “hit and don’t get hit” philosophy, and he won’t capitulate to what he believes is a sneaky push to get boxer types to be traders. Yes, he thinks that more and more judges are rewarding trader types and treating smart boxers worse when it comes tally time.

“The issue is, we need to get together, form a panel or a committee, because I’ve been robbed,” he told me. “We really need to address the issue, we need the fans to get behind it, because the sport is nothing without fans. We’ve got to keep judges in check, hold them accountable for these bogus decisions, these obvious disparities … because either they don’t know their job or they are on the take, it’s that simple.”

That said, USS Cunningham won’t be switching up his style; he did so back in 2013, when he met Tyson Fury while still stinging from a decision loss to Tomasz Adamek in a fight he thinks very much he won. Therefore, against Fury, he stood in the pocket and subjected himself to trades more than was wise for a cruiserweight-bodied heavyweight … and got knocked out in the seventh round.

“I like it when guys go in and trade, I love it … but they get beat,” he told me.

Boiled down, this could be a solid tangle, Cunningham-Tarver, as both men are craving a title fight, for the money, and for the legacy bump. Your thoughts, RING readers?

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