Steve Cunningham: ďI want to get all these belts and be the greatest cruiserweight of all timeĒ

by Geoffrey Ciani - This weekís 89th edition of On the Ropes Boxing Radio featured an exclusive interview with reigning IBF cruiserweight champion of the world Steve ďUSSĒ Cunningham (23-2, 12 KOs), who is expected to be included in a cruiserweight tournament which is slated to start later this year. Cunningham regained the IBF title back in June when he defeated Troy Ross by fifth round technical knockout for the vacant strap. He spoke about his career and shared his views on various topics pertaining to the current boxing landscape. Cunningham also responded to comments directed at him by WBO cruiserweight champion Marco Huck on last weekís show. Here are some excerpts from the Steve Cunningham interview:

His response to comments made by Marco Huck on the previous weekís show when Huck stated he wanted a rematch with Cunningham and claimed he would ďreally, really hurt himĒ if they ever meet in again:

ďFirst off, isnít that what they all say? Isnít that what youíre supposed to say? Itís not surprising coming from him because thatís the exact same trash-talking immature attitude he had when we first when to Germany in December í07. So I canít expect anything different from him. Well I should expect something different from him, but obviously he hasnít grown. So heís talking the same smack. Thatís his first loss and it was a bad loss for him, so yeah heís angry. Heís been angry. It seems like heís been dreaming about me. Maybe my wife should be jealous.Ē

On whether he was surprised that Huck said he (Cunningham) was the man he would most like to face in the proposed cruiserweight tournament:

ď Well no, you canít blame him. I mean truthfully, we donít have to have to wait for the Super Six. We can do the unification bout next month. We can do it whenever. We donít have to wait for the Super Six tournament to meet up. Iím willing to do it right now. Iím willing to make that my next fight.Ē

His views on the proposed Super Six style tournament in the cruiserweight division:

ďI mean I think itís great. Itís awesome. I donít know if itís going to do the same thing for the division or the same thing for the fighters as the Super Six super middleweight tournament has done for Andre Ward and Dirrell and those guys, because I donít know if thereís any American television involved. Yet again, thereís that problem with the cruiserweight division. We continue to go out and prove ourselves and prove ourselves and show that weíre worthy. Weíre not just some division full of fat guysóoverweight light heavyweights or skinny heavyweights. Weíre a legitimate division. Itís got potential to help the division, but I think itís just going to make superstars in Europe more.Ē

His views on why the cruiserweight division has been historically underappreciated by boxing fans:

ďTo tell you the truth, I donít know why, man. The old saying is like I said, they look at the cruiserweights as overweight light heavyweights and small heavyweights, but now, with the heavyweight division looking the way it looks, youíd think that the attention would have gravitated to us a bit. But truthfully what I really think about it, I showed the world what I thought about the cruiserweight division by signing with Sauerland Events. We showed the world what we thought about the state of the cruiserweight division in America. The promoters that we spoke to here in America, the contracts were so small, and you canít blame them because if they canít sell you to HBO and Showtime and make money then your numbers are going to look low in the contract. Donít get me wrong, I want to be the greatest of all time, but I want to get paid for it, also. The numbers from the European contracts that we saw were totally different. It blew those out of the water. So I mean Iíd be a dummy not to go further with that.Ē

His views on the recent changes where the cruiserweight weight limit increased from 190 to 200 pounds and whether he believes that helped attract more talent to the weight class:

ďWell it was the same fighters. The same fighters were in the division after. Truthfully, they made that limit to lure guys like Tarver, Roy Jones, and Chris Byrd into the cruiserweight division, and it really didnít work. Truthfully it just allowed the cruiserweight guys who like to eat to eat a little more and come in tipping the scales at 200. Me, I stayed the same. I naturally walk around at 193-194. I eat a little richer and gained a few more pounds, but this is my walking around weight.Ē

On whether he believes the cruiserweight division suffered when star names like David Haye and Tomasz Adamek moved up to heavyweight:

ďI think when David Haye beat Maccarinelli, we were there trying to get in contact with him to really unify all the belts. He stated on Showtime he unified all the belts when Iím sitting there with my belt in my lap. I thought after he left, yeah, it took a little steam off because it was packed and hot at that time. It would have been a great unification bout with him and me. I would have went to England, you know me. I love traveling. I would make it a little vacation. Then when Adamek decided to move up, I worked my way back up to the number one spot to be the number one contender so I could rematch him and get my belt back. The money and the fame at heavyweight lured him into that. You canít blame those guys. Like I just said, if the networks arenít interested in the cruiserweights, thatís the money. So Showtime and HBO arenít putting money for these fights, so the promoters got to do it and theyíre not trying to pay me big money out of their pockets, so you canít blame them.Ē

His views on the Super Six super middleweight tournament as a whole:

ďWell as a whole, truthfully, the guys that knew Andre Ward in the amateurs that have seen his career and knows what type of person he is, we always had Andre Ward picked to win this thing. It seems like everybody was surprised when he beat Kessler and he beat Green, and the way he beat these guys was awesome. So we already had him picked to win the tournament. But then you got Dirrell, and him and Dirrell, thatís going to be an awesome fight. Theyíre guys that grew up together in the gym, so thatís a pickíem fight right there. The Super Six has put a spotlight on guys that probably would not have a spotlight unless they were champions. So I think itís great. Itís a very great idea. I think they should do that with a lot more divisions.Ē

On whether he believes Andre Dirrell has the best chance to beat Andre Ward in the Super Six super middleweight tournament:

ďYeah, heís the only one that I can see beating Ward in that tournament. The only one, if he does beat him. I havenít met Dirrell in my life, but I hear heís a good dude. Heís a hard worker. You see what he did to Arthur Abraham. Youíre not going to hit a dude low after heís down unless you frustrated from getting your butt kicked. Thatís all I can say about that, so thatís a testament to Dirrellís skills.Ē

His views on the Super Six initial format with three group stage match-ups where the top four fighters enter a single elimination semi-finals:

ďWell you know, as a fighter, letís say I was in that tournamentóI would love it because thatís three guaranteed paydays. Thatís three guaranteed paydays. Iím a fan of boxing myself. I watch fights and go to fights everywhere I can. Being the tournament happened and there is so much time in between fights, thatís the only negative part. Thatís the only bad part that I see. They should have staggered them a bit and let these guys fight this month, let these guys fight that month. Give us a little time off, but keep it fresh, fresh, fresh. I think itís cool.Ē

His take on some of the recent problems in the tournament, with Jermain Taylor and Mikkel Kessler pulling out, and whether he thinks that style tournament or a simpler single elimination format would be more appropriate in the cruiserweight division:

ďYes and no. Like I said, Iím a fighter, and if the tournament goes and you can get three good paydays out of it, you know youíre fighting, you know youíre getting paid, and you know youíre in the publicís eye. From a fighterís standpoint, 100% do it the way that theyíve been doing it. But to keep the injuries out, yeah, a one fight elimination is cool, also. Listen, Iím with it regardless of how it goes down. Not to brag or anything, but I feel I already won the cruiserweight Super Six. I beat Guillermo Jones who is the WBA world champion, I beat Krzysztof Wlodarczyk the WBC world champion, I beat Marco Huck who is the WBO world champion, and Iím the IBF champion. I already beat the cruiserweight Super Six.Ē

His views on the Klitschko brothers upcoming fights (at the time) against Sam Peter and Shannon Briggs and what he thinks of them as champions:

ďMan, you look at the opposition. I mean Sam Peterís a good fighter. Shannon Briggs has worked himself back into contention somehow, which is a great thing for him. But you canít blame the Klitschkos for the guys that theyíre fighting. Everybody that gets in with them got beat. Theyíre dominant. Theyíre dominant at what they do. The only fight I really want to see them fight is David Haye. I want to see one of them fight David Haye. I mean thereís nobody really else to make it even exciting, and truthfully even then, I see David Haye getting punched on the chin and heís out of there with those guys. We know he has a glass chin, so I donít see that being real competition too much. Like I said, you canít blame the Klitschkos for the state of the division. Theyíre just dominant dudes, man. What else can you say?Ē

His views on David Hayeís upcoming title defense against Audley Harrison and his views on him as a champion:

ďHe looks good at heavyweight, but the truth is who has he beaten? I mean he did beat the giant. Okay, hats off to him for that. Thatís great. Heís got the belt now. Now itís time for to defend it as a champion. So heís fighting guys he should have been fighting on his way up to the belt. John Ruiz, donít get me wrong, John Ruiz was a good champion in his time but we know his time is gone so you couldnít expect nothing less than what he did to John Ruiz. Now heís fighting Audley Harrison. I mean Iím like, come on! Itís a guy whoís been plagued with injuries and issues. People want to see the heavyweight champion fight against top heavyweight contenders, not heavyweight has-beens or older guys.Ē

On whether he believes David Haye is at all worried or reluctant about fighting either of the Klitschkos:

ďI mean you canít blame him. Thatís a business move on his part to try and hold his belt. Thatís his money. He wants to make that money and if people are going to buy it, make the money. The thing with David Haye is he talks so much. He ran his mouth so much about what he was going to do. He got t-shirts made of these guys being decapitated. He talks smack, and then he turns around and goes to fight John Ruiz. (laughs) He makes himself look like a donkey. I donít want to say the other word, but he makes himself look like a donkey when he talks about, oh this is why the fight isnít happening, and thatís the biggest payday in his entire life against one of the Klitschkos. A lot of fighters, I know me for instance, I havenít been fighting for big paydays. I havenít had the options to say thatís not enough money. But I had to fight for position, so a lot of fighters now days got to realize some of these fights are for position, legacy, and history more so than the money.Ē

On whether he believes Marco Huck has improved as a fighter since he last faced him:

ďLet me clear something up with people with me, and my wife, and my team, and some other fans have been saying. Of course I fought three times to Marcoís eleven times. Now if you look at my resume and the opponents I fought: Wayne Braithwaite, former world champion; Tomasz Adamek, light heavyweight championóand he beat me for the title which was a great fight, which some say I could have won, but whateveróand I just beat Troy Ross, ďThe ContenderĒ winner. You take those three opponents that I fought, and all of those eleven guys that Huck has fought canít add up to one of those guys. A lot of fans got to realize itís not about putting guys in front of him and just letting him knock them out. Itís about the opposition that you knockout. Itís about who youíre fighting, not just fighting. You can fight eleven times a year. You can fight ducks. You can go to the bar and pull a guy out of the bar and beat him up once a month for twelve months, and still, you can get in with a world champion and get crushed. So truthfully, he has gotten a little better in his skills. Itís possible, but truthfully I see the same Huck. To tell you the truth, I see the same Huck and I see it in his attitude with the interviews heís done where heís bashing me. Huck sounds like an angry little boy.Ē

His views on Adamekís recent success he has had since moving up to heavyweight:

ďI thought the fight with Chris Arreola was great. He did exactly what we were saying he needed to do to win, box. We know Adamek had power at cruiserweight and light heavyweight, but at heavyweight itís a different world so a lot of people didnít see the power translate over in the Estrada fight. So it was smart for him to box, and he can box better than Arreola. He used the ring and he did what he had to do. Now with the Grant fight, what I personally thought was if Grant would have gave the effort he could have done way more than he did. There we go again with a guy whoís been there before and heís out of his time. Adamek is doing what he needs to do and heís doing what heís supposed to do. My thing is, any cruiserweight out there that can go over 200 pounds, youíre an idiot to stay at cruiserweight right now.Ē

His views on a potential fight between former cruiserweights Adamek and Haye at heavyweight:

ďOh man! Adamek and Haye? Now thatís a fight. Thatís the heavyweight fight that should be getting talked about right there versus Haye versus a Klitschko or even Adamek versus a Klitschko. We know fighting a Klitschko is like fighting Mike Tyson. Youíre going to get paid. Thatís why everybody wants the Klitschkos, but Haye and Adamekóthatís a way better heavyweight fight. I think that fight would go down as one of the top fights in a long time. Both of those dudes got power, they both can box, theyíre both coming up from the cruiserweight division. Thatís a great fight. I donít know who to pick.Ē

On what he thinks about the upcoming cruiserweight fight between Danny Green and BJ Flores:

ďMan listen, if that fight happens, Iím going to tell you the truth. Iím being a little outspoken today because Iíve been a little frustrated with all this hoopla Iíve been reading up on East Side Boxing from reporters and fans that donít know and donít understand. Iím going to tell you. BJ Flores, he doesnít want to fight anybody. BJís not trying to fight anybody. Heís trying to get a shot. He wants somebody to give him a shot. My thing with these fighters in any division, but mainly my division, Iíve been hearing, ďHey Cunningham! Give me a shot! Give me another chance! Give me! Give me!Ē Listen, you might as well go grab a cup and go stand at the gas station next to the homeless dude, because thatís exactly what youíre doing. Youíre begging! You know, I worked my way up two times to get this belt. Nobody gave me anything. You look at my resume and Iíve been fighting champions since í04, and I still havenít gotten just dues, but thatís not going to stop me or deter me. But back to BJ, BJ turned down the mandatory to fight Braithwaite. I donít know why. If you want to be the best cruiserweight in the world, you got fight to get there. He turned that down, they called me. I got the eliminator. I beat Braithwaite and became number one. Then we get BJ Flores was supposed to fight Yoan Pablo Hernandez last month or sometime this summer to fight to be mandatory. He talked his way out of that because he wants somebody to give him, give him, give him. Now heís got Danny Green who has won the IBO championship by beating I donít even know who. I donít know who this guy is he beat for the belt. Then he fights Roy Jones. Okay, great fight. He hits Roy, he stops Roy. Heís a big thing now. Heís in Australia. Heís not trying to leave home. You got to come in at his weight that that he wants you to, at 185 or 182. He doesnít want to fight a real cruiserweight, but now with all of the flack that heís gotten from the Briggs fight from picking a guy who hasnít fought in two years who had medical issues, he had to pick somebody so he picked BJ. Iíll be surprised if this fight happens to tell you the truth.Ē

On when he expects to get back inside the ring:

ďAs soon as possible. I was hoping to get back into the ring this October, but with thing with the Super Six and with my mandatory, and truthfully, with BJ Flores not accepting the fight it pushed a few things back and it kind of messed our schedule up, because now we could have slid a fight in, in between, but now time is running short. Weíre looking at this Super Six thing and weíre going to go over these contracts a bit with our promoters and make sure everything matches up, so December. I should be fighting in December. Now Hernandez is fighting Licina now for the number one spot. So thatís going to be the next fight in December I heard, against the winner of that.Ē

On whether he would consider moving up to heavyweight if he wins the cruiserweight tournament and is subsequently offered a heavyweight title shot:

ďOh yeah. Thatís something that weíve talked about and weíve discussed. We said we wouldnít really entertain this until weíre done with the business here at the cruiserweight division and thatís being the best cruiserweight that the world has seen. If something like that presents itself that would be great. We would totally take that into account. So thatís a possibility.Ē

On whether he thinks a rematch with Marco Huck would be a replay of their fight from three years ago:

ďI mean truthfully, I would be a fool to sit there and say, oh itís going to be the same thing. You canít underestimate anybody in this sport and I still wonít underestimate Marco Huck. I look at the same as I did when I was going to fight him before. Heís younger than me, heís got a lot of fights behind him, but he doesnít have the opposition that I have behind me. I just got a different drive. I got a drive thatís going to take me beyond my wildest dreams and thatís Jesus Christ. So I feel Iím going to beat him. Iíll say Iíll beat him again, most definitely, but I donít want to try to imitate Muhammad Ali and predict. I donít want to get into that, but I tell you the truth, Iíll do my best to stop him.Ē

On whether a rematch with Huck is the fight he is most interested in right now:

ďIíve never been a guy to chase names or to chase somebody. Iím chasing history, Iím chasing legacy, and I want belts. So heís got a belt that I need and I want. Yep, I want that fight. I want to fight with Krzysztof Wlodarczyk. I want to fight with Guillermo Jones. Whoever the champions are, I want to fight with you. Of course I have mandatories and stuff, and God willing, we do what we got to do with these guys and stay in contention and stay in position, but I want to get all these belts and be the greatest cruiserweight of all time. Thatís my goal.Ē


For those interested in listening to the Steve Cunningham interview in its entirety, it begins approximately twenty-four minutes into the program.


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Article posted on 13.09.2010

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