By Chris Cella
Tomorrow afternoon live from Madison Square Garden and televised on NBC, undefeated mammoth and Ireland’s heavyweight titlist Tyson Fury will make his highly anticipated U.S. debut against former IBF cruiserweight champion Steve “USS” Cunningham.
Vying for the IBF Heavyweight Eliminator and #2 spot, the 6’9” Fury (20-0, 14 KO) is anxious to show the boxing world that he is set for the big stage and the number one contender in the world.
“The fans better be prepared for a good old fashioned fight, because I’m coming to town and I’m taking no prisoners,” said Fury.
For the elder and smaller fighter Cunningham (25-5, 12 KO), this may be his last shot at the big dance. He fought a close bout last December against Tomasz Adamek in which he came up short, losing a split decision, and if he is unable to get past the rising star Fury, it may be time to consider hanging up the gloves and walking away from the squared circle.
“I’m going to utilize my strengths, and we’ve worked on my weaknesses,” Cunningham said. “So you’re going to see some different things. You’re going to see some things that are the same. I feel great. I feel strong. I feel energetic. I’m excited about this fight.”
Since moving up to heavyweight last year Cunningham has gone 1-1, but by no means has faced an opponent the size of Fury.
Fury’s most impressive win to date was a fifth round TKO victory over former heavyweight contender Vinny Maddalone last July, and knows that a win over Cunningham can move him into line with going to battle with Wladimir Klitschko by years end.
“We’ve not done much different with preparation because for the last three fights we left no stone unturned – we’ve been working on different game plans for a lighter fighter, such as Steve Cunningham, a speed guy, and we just hope it all goes to plan on the night,” Tyson said. “This is what you’ve all been waiting for; the heavyweight champion of Ireland coming to the East Coast. Steve Cunningham, you’re in big trouble, I hope you’ve been training really hard because I know I have and it’s fight time.”
Leading up to this fight Fury did more than his share of talking trash to get under Cunningham’s skin and draw more attention to this bout, but come tomorrow afternoon, words won’t mean much when the bell signals the commencement of round one. It’s old dog versus new dog, experience versus size and power.
The festivities will get underway with the singing of the national anthem by American Idol contestant Nicholas Rodriguez.
The action begins live on NBC at 4 p.m. Eastern tomorrow, April 20.