By: William Holmes
The 2300 Arena in South Philadelphia was the host site for tonight’s NBC Sports Fight Night Card featuring a heavyweight bout between former Cruiserweight World Champion and current heavyweight contender Steve “USS” Cunningham and Natu Visinia.
The opening bout of the night was one of great interest to the boxing media as well respected boxing writer Ryan Bivins (0-0) made his professional debut in the light heavyweight division against Darryl Gause (0-0). Bivins is known for contributing to various boxing websites and for watching more fights than any man on the face of this earth. His passion for boxing isn’t just about watching and writing about the sport, but also about competing inside the ring.
Bivins was using his jab often in the first two rounds, and kept it in the face of Gause. Gause was throwing wild punches and Bivins was able to slip most of them, but Gause did land some decent body shots in the second round. Bivins had busted Gause’s nose in the second round from his constant jab but he also appeared to tire and was tying up with Gause whenever they got in close.
Gause was applying pressure in the second half of the fight as Bivins was visibly tiring. Gause kept up with the body work and it paid off in the mind of the judges. This was a moment that Bivins was looking forward to for a long time, and he likely experienced an adrenaline dump from being admittedly too excited.
The final scores were 39-37, 40-36, and 40-36 for Darryl Gause.
The first televised fight of the night was between Edner Cherry (32-6-2) and late replacement Osumanu Akaba (24-6) in the junior lightweight division. Cherry was originally scheduled to face Jerry Belmontes, but Belmontes had to pull out of the fight when he injured his right wrist while training and Akaba stepped in on short notice to face the tough veteran.
Akaba was a southpaw and both boxers landed check lead hooks as their first punches in the first round. Akaba was a little sloppy with his combinations, but neither fighter was able to land much and spent most of the first round feeling each other out.
Cherry came out aggressive in the second round and exchanged with reckless abandon with Akaba by the ropes. Both boxers landed, but it was Cherry who followed up with a right hook that sent Akaba down to the mat. Akaba was able to get back to his feet, but appeared to still be stunned and was sent back to the mat with a left hook. He again got back up, but was sent to the mat for the third time in the round from a combination which forced the referee to immediately wave off the bout.
Edner Cherry won by TKO at 2:15 of the second round.
Cherry, who has spent most of his career fighting in the lightweight division, stated that he hoped to fight whoever thinks they are the best in junior lightweight division and that he feels extremely comfortable at this weight.
The main event of the night was between Philadelphia native Steve “USS” Cunningham (27-6) and Natu Visinia (10-0) in the heavyweight division. Visinia was seventy three pounds heavier than Cunningham at weigh-ins, but this was a gigantic step up in competition for the Samoan native.
Visinia was significantly larger than Cunningham, but he appeared to have the reach advantage. Cunningham kept a safe distance in the first round and was landing his jab at will. Visinia tried to trap Cunningham in a corner and throw bombs but was not very successful in landing clean punches. Visinia ate two hard right hands as the first round came to an end.
Visinia had his moments in the second round and was able to do some damage on Cunningham when Cunningham had his back against the ropes, but for most of the second round, Cunningham was able to stick and move and keep his jab in the face of Visinia.
Cuningham continued to stay active in the third round with his jab and started to open up with his right hand. Visinia took a lot of punches to the head in the third round, but may have hurt Cunningham with a hard body shot as the round came to an end.
Cunningham continued to be extremely accurate in the fourth round and was seemingly landing at will against Visinia. Visinia could be seen spitting out blood in the middle of the ring, but he continued to come forward and take some of Cunningham’s best punches.
Cunningham was landing some heavy shots in the fifth round, but Visinia scored a knockdown seemingly out of nowhere with a short right hook to Cunningham’s shoulder. Cunningham didn’t seemed hurt when he got back to his feet and landed enough punches to have maybe tied the round despite the knockdown.
Cunningham had a very strong sixth round and was picking Visinia apart with hard combinations. The crowd got on its feet when Cunningham hurt Visinia with a left hook followed by a straight right hand, but somehow, Visinia stayed on his feet. The crowd was loudly chanting “USA” while Visinia showed he had a very good chin and took some of Cunningham’s best shots.
The ringside doctor took a hard look at Visinia before the start of the seventh round, but allowed him to continue fighting. Cunningham continued to treat Visinia’s face like a punching bag and Visinia’s face was showing the signs of damage from the accurate and increasingly heavy punches of Cunningham.
Visinia was bleeding badly and was unable to come out for the start of the eighth round, giving Steve Cunningham his first stoppage victory since 2010.
Steve Cunningham won by TKO at the end of the seventh round.
Undercard Quick Results:
Anthony Prescott (5-3-2) defeated Anthony Abbruzzese (3-1) by decision in the welterweight division with scores of 39-37 on all three scorecards.
Victor Vasquez (17-9-1) defeated Gerald Smith (3-2) with scores of 59-55, 58-55, and 58-55 in the lightweight division.
DeCarlo Perez (13-3-1) scored the upset Tyrone Brunson (22-3-1) by TKO at 2:29 of the fifth round.
Robert Sweeney (3-1) defeated Roberto Lopez (4-8-2) by decision with scores of 40-36, 40-36, and 39-37.