Andrew Tabiti: “I’m Just Ready For Anybody”
By: Sean Crose
Last summer, on the undercard of the Floyd Mayweather –Conor McGregor superfight, a cruiserweight battle occurred between longtime respected veteran Steve Cunningham and rising undefeated star Andrew Tabiti. Entering the ring with a record of 13-0, it might have been assumed that Tabiti, who had stopped all but two of his previous opponents within the distance, would be sure to go in for the kill. That wasn’t the case, though. Rather than get wrapped up in the moment, Tabiti outfought and outskilled his older foe. Cunningham was a crafty vet, after all. What’s more, he had the power to knock down the gigantic Tyson Fury just a few years earlier.
“I could tell he had a high guard,” Tabiti says of Cunningham. “He wasn’t really punching.” Tabiti, perhaps more than most young fighters, knows the value of playing it smart in and out of the ring if one wants to get ahead. Not that he isn’t exciting. Those fast hands and that thudding power have made the Las Vegas native a man to watch.
Photo Credit: Premier Boxing Champions
Now Tabiti finds himself about to face to another cruiserweight, this time on the eleventh of May, in the guise of 21-2 Lateef Kayode. The bout, which will go down in Vegas, will be aired live on Bounce TV and will mark the first time Tabiti has fought since the victory over Cunningham. “I’m just ready for anybody,” he says. Right now, Tabiti’s goal is to become a champion at cruiserweight and move on to bigger – and more lucrative – adventures. For the man makes it clear he will “eventually go up to heavyweight.”
At the moment, though, the cruiserweight division awaits, a division which is in the midst of a highly regarded tournament to see who the top fighter of the weight class is. It is a tournament which Tabiti didn’t find himself in. Not that the man minds. In fact, Tabiti is up front about where he stood on the ladder while the tournament was being formed. “To be honest,” he says. “I wasn’t a legitimate cruiserweight…at the time I wasn’t top tier.”
The tournament which Tabiti hasn’t been a part of will be over soon enough. At the moment, Tabiti says, he’s “favoring Usyk,” as in Oleksandr Usyk, the 14-0 Ukrainian powerhouse, who will be facing the 26-0 Murat Gassiev in the final battle for division supremacy, which will go down at a yet to be decided upon date. Like many cruiserweights before him, Usyk, should he win, may well make the jump to heavyweight shortly thereafter. So, does Tabiti feel the moment’s top crop of cruisers may elude him? “It’s a chance Gassiev may stay,” he says. “Then again, I see them both moving up.”
Once again, however, Tabiti is unperturbed. As he says: “All blessings come from being patient.”
Some of Tabiti’s confidence may well come the fact that he’s a member of the famed “Mayweather Promotions,” named after the man himself, Floyd Mayweather Jr. “I’ve got a good promoter,” Tabiti says of Floyd. “He puts fighters in a position to win titles…It’s a blessing.” Does the Vegas native ever see Floyd, one of the city’s most famous citizens? “I see him time to time,” Tabiti says. “He’s a man of his word.”
Although there had been word that problems existed between Tabiti and his trainer, Floyd Mayweather Sr, before the Cunningham fight, it was the senior Mayweather who was in his fighter’s corner that night, just as he had been before. “I’m still trained by his (Floyd’s) dad,” Tabiti says,” though he adds the elder Mayweather isn’t around at the moment due to a death in the family. The duties of the senior Mayweather, then, are currently being conducted by Otis Pimpleton.
Despite his rising star and power backing, Tabiti is, in essence, a simple man. He doesn’t swear. He’s not flashy and he’s not pushing for shock value. “I live a low key lifestyle,” he says. “I just want to be humble. The universe is watching what you give in and what you give back.” Tabiti’s background was a rough one, though one which he didn’t let swallow him whole. “I had a tough upbringing,” he says. “At one point I was staying with a church family.” A church family that didn’t have much patience for things like swearing. Such are the experiences Tabiti has taken into his adult life. It’s the sense of maturity that sets the man apart from other rising stars.
While other up and coming fighters make it a point to be as brash and outspoken as possible, Tabiti says he doesn’t “really like conflict too much.” Not that he minds getting in the ring to prove who the best competitor is. I ask the six foot one inch fighter about the challenges he might face should he move up to heavyweight. This is a supersized era, after all, with enormous individuals like Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder, and the aforementioned Tyson Fury dotting the landscape.
“No, not at all,” he responds after I inquire whether or not he’s concerned of the size of possible future opponents. “I’m very fast,” he adds. “It’s defense. Defense is a major key.” As is confidence, something the twenty eight year old clearly has in abundance. “Boxing’s a technique,” he says. Boxing can also be quite lucrative…if one is able to move onto the upper echelons. That’s something that Tabiti feels can come in time. At the moment, though, the fighter will focus on his May bout with Kayode. Should he prove successful, the spotlight will inevitably, become brighter, something it looks like Tabiti may well be prepared for.
“I like Showtime,” he says of what is now the premiere cable network to broadcast boxing. Tabiti’s showcased his skills on the channel before. Will he do so again in the near future? “Hopefully, the next fight,” he says.
Mayweather vs. McGregor PPV Undercard Results: Davis and Badou Jack Win by Stoppage, Tabiti Decisions Cunningham
By: William Holmes
The T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada was the host site for tonight’s Showtime PPV attraction between all-time great Floyd Mayweather Jr. and UFC super star Conor McGregor.
Fight fans were treated to three bouts on the televised portion of the pay per view card, including two world title fights.
Photo Credit: USA Today
The first fight of the night was between Andrew Tabiti (14-0) and Steve Cunningham (29-8-1) in the cruiserweight division.
Cunningham is a former world champion in the cruiserweight division and Tabiti is prized prospect in the Mayweather Promotions stable.
Cunningham had the height advantage and looked to be in great shape. Tabiti was able to stay out of range in the first two rounds, but Cunningham was the more aggressive fighter and forced Tabiti to tie up often. Tabiti’s jab was landing in the second round and he landed a hard right uppercut at the end of a combination.
Cunningham’s punches were missing with increasing regularity from the first round to the fourth round and Tabiti remained an elusive target. Tabiti’s hands were faster and more accurate but Cunningham’s chin was able to take his best punches.
The fifth round featured two blistering combinations by Tabiti in the center of the ring. Tabiti was able to land his jab to the body and head of Cunningham in the sixth round. Cunningham’s frustration with his inability to mount an offensive attack continued into the seventh round.
Cunningham, to his credit, still came forward in the eighth round despite clearly being behind on the cards. He was able to force a few exchanges but Tabiti got the better of them.
Cunningham needed a knockout in the final two rounds to win the fight, but that knockout never came.
Andrew Tabiti remained undefeated with a decision victory with scores of 97-93, 97-93, and 100-90.
Nathan Cleverly (30-3) faced Badou Jack (21-1-2) for the WBA Light Heavyweight Title.
Jack established himself as the more accurate puncher in the first round and was able to do land some good body shots in the opening round. Cleverly looked like the bigger fight and was able to land some hard straight right hands at the end of the round.
Jack continued his body attack in the second round and he was able to land hard right uppercuts in the third round. Jack’s assault was more vicious in the fourth round and he had Cleverly’s nose busted from numerous uppercuts and left hooks.
Jack came out aggressively in the fifth round and obliterated Cleverly from corner to corner. Cleverly was taking several hard combinations without answering back. The referee let Jack batter Cleverly perhaps longer than he should have, but he finally stopped it near the end of the round.
Badou Jack wins the WBA Light Heavyweight by TKO at 2:47 of the fifth round.
Afterwards, Badou Jack called out Adonis Stevenson.
The final undercard bout was between Gervonta Davis (18-0) and Francisco Fonseca (19-0-1). This bout was supposed to be for the IBF Super Featherweight Title but Davis failed to make the contracted weight.
Fonseca looked awkward in the first round and Davis was able to land hooks and uppercuts to the body. Fonseca ate some heavy combinations in the second round but was able to take some of Davis’ best shots and reply with punches of his own.
Fonseca kept a high guard in the second round but had to absorb blows to the body. Davis began to showboat in the fourth round and landed a few left hooks after putting his hands behind his back, but Fonseca connected with enough punches to maybe steal the round.
Fonseca pressed the action in the fifth round and landed some good combinations to the head and body. Davis was telegraphing his punches and may have lost this round solely based on Fonseca’s activity.
Davis stopped showing off in the sixth round and stuck to a traditional boxing stance and was able to land sharp jabs and hard straight left hands. Davis finally stunned Fonseca in the seventh round with hard hooks but Fonseca stayed on his feet.
Davis opened up the eighth round with a stunning straight left hand and had Fonseca stuck in the corner. He connected with a left hook that may have landed on the back of Fonseca’s head, but Fonseca went to the mat holding the back of his head and was unable to get up.
Gervonta Davis wins by knockout at 0:39 of the eighth round.