Interview with Steve Cunningham

07.11.06 - by Jaroslaw Drozd, translated from Steve, thanks for finding some time for the interview, which is sure to draw many Polish boxing fans. I must say that with every passing day more people are interested in you, and this trend will probably last right until November 25...

Steve Cunningham: I look forward to this fight and the polish boxing fans, you guy's have a great reputation here in america for being great fans of the sport and your countryman..

Was it a surprise when Don King let you know that your very first championship fight will take place in a faraway place that Poland is for most people Stateside?

Not really,just a bit we knew krystov was next in line so it was always a possabilty.

You already had a chance to meet Krzysztof and his promoter, Andrzej Wasilewski, in Chicago. How do you feel about that meeting?

It was great they were nice and freindly and really sportsman like.

Krzysztof Wlodarczyk wasn't your choice of an opponent. From what I've heard, you were much more keen on fighting one of the four: either Jones, Bell, Mormeck, or Godfrey.

Well being world champion means you have to fight the world so I must fight whoever.

Bell dropped some hints that you'd be the first in line to fight him. Why didn't that happen?

God alone knows the heart of a man so I can only go by what he said and that was he had tooth problems.

In the interview to David Roberts you've said you're glad to fight against Krzysztof in his home land, as this guarantees he will not back out. I can confirm that he's not about to back out or give up, he's a tough cookie..What is your assessment of your opponent?

From his record you can tell he's tough and good at what he does.

Have you watched the tapes of his fights? Any favorites?

Just clips of one fight he's preety smart in the ring from what I saw.

This may be a difficult fight for you for another reason - most probably, aside from your team there'll be nobody in the audience cheering for you. Could this influence your performance in any way?

Listen God say's I can do all things thru Christ who strengthen's so I travel to Poland with that ijn mind and ready to go to work

You haven't been in a fight since January. What did you do for all these months to stay in shape?

Boxing is my job so im in the gym every day fight or no fight cause you never know when you can get called to go to work.

How are the preparations for the fight going along?

Everythings good sparrings good my mindset is also.

You only got into boxing in 1994, due to the service in armed forces. Could you describe how a soldier became a soldiering boxer?

Well I was always fighting in the streets as a kid and I went to the boxing gym a couple times but when I joined the US navy I had oppertunity and the facillities right there and a lot of time on my hands.

From what I've heard, in your very first fight you won against the then US Navy light heavyweight champion! Tell me, was that due more to your talent and great abilities, or did the other guy give a poor account of himself?

It was a good close fight I can tell you it wasnt because of my skillz because then I diddnt know what that was but I trully know I wanted it more.

You've served for four years in US Navy (or was it USMC?). Did you take part in any combat missions?

Just a six month trip to Europe the Med sea, red sea ,suez canal Italy, Malta some other place's but no real war stories.

A bit more about your amateur career. You've won National Golden Gloves in 1998. Was that the crowning achievement for Steve Cunningham as an amateur boxer?

Well then I wanted more of course but now that its over yes I really diddnt even know want it meant to win a national title until It was over.

You failed to qualify for the US Olympic team for the Sydney Olympic Games. In the decisive fight, the jury judged you were defeated by the world champion Michael Simms. Was that an honest verdict?

Some thought so and a lot others diddnt me included but that was the verdict by those judges.

You've fought in 55 fights as an amateur. What was your exact record? I've counted seven losses, to Olanda Anderson, Daniel Edouard, Shaun George (twice), DeAndrey Abron, Terrance Johnson, and Michael Simms.

I think thats right im not sure exactly. Wow thats good homework you did there.

What made you turn professional?

Well my goal was to make the Olympic team then turn pro but I lost to Simms and couldnt afford to go to any of the other qualifying tournaments so we decided it would be good to turn pro.

After starting the pro career, you went for many fights in a very short time. After 11 months you already had 11 victories to your credit, with 8 KOs and 4 first-round wins. And then it took you 4 years to line up 8 more fights. How did this imbalance come about?

Well at the time i was fighting like once a month i was signed with a small promoter named Andy Zeluewski born and raised in poland but living in Chicago. But after so many wins with him it time to move on to bigger fights and a bigger promoter so I signed with don king and because he has so many fighters and few shows that why the decline in fights.

When did you start working with Richie Giachetti, and what do you think of his methods?

We started working together in 2001 Richie is very good at what he does and a very smart teacher of the art of boxing I respect him tremendously.

Your coach is famous for getting his boxers into great shape, with plenty of stamina. You have shown this in many fights that lasted 8 or 12 rounds. Do you consider this durability to be your greatest asset?

First my greatest asset is God without him nothing I do any where means anything, also the stamina the skill and everything else plays an equal part in our success in the ring.

This can be a beautiful and fascinating fight to watch, as Wlodarczyk unlimbers with the passing rounds, and his blows become more and more destructive with the progress of the fight.

Yes a very exciting bout.

Your muscular build is the envy of many, but your results do not reflect some particularly devastating punch. In the last five years, you've only won two fights through KO. Are you really satisfied with your punching power?

Yes the power is there, a win by decision or ko is still a win.

Your most spectacular victory was that in the fight with Guillermo Jones. How do you feel about that fight in hindsight?

I feel great to beat jones and then he beats davis and braithwaite by ko makes us look good , I was looking forward to the rematch very much.

Which of your opponents up till now caused you the most problems between the ropes?

Jones did for two reasons he's better than he looks and I wasnt 100% for that fight but I was very happy that we were able to do other things and get the win.

Your fights against Guillermo Jones and Kelvin Davis proved that you're comfortable fighting boxers both taller and much lower than you. You've had 8 inches of height advantage over the latter - and how did it feel to fight him?

It felt good we did exactly what we trained on.

Who is your boxing idol? Would you say your fighting style is comparable to anyone else's?

I am a fan of boxing so I like a lot of fighters but my fav's are Chris Byrd, Floyd Mayweather, Bernard Hopkins, Oscar De la Hoya - the list goes on.

In an interview for our website Wlodarczyk says that your fighting style shows similarities to that of Imamu Mayfield (his opponent a while ago), and that although your skills are greater, you're packing a lighter punch. Care to comment?

He'll know the truth on nov 25.

Could you say a few words each about these top cruiserweight boxers (Bell, Mormeck, Hill, Haye, Tokarev, Banks, Maccarinelli, Godfrey...).

I can say all these guys are good and skillfull and if they arent champ the can become one some day Ive seen them all fight.

I know boxing is not your sole means of support. What are your other professional occupations, besides pro sports?

Im also a model and have an agent in New York and in between fights thats what I do.

Could you tell us something about Steve Cunningham in everyday life?

A father, a husband ,I love spending time with my family and at home. After boxing is over they are still gonna love me for me.

You have the reputation of a deeply religious man. How does your strong Christian spirituality help your sports career and personal life?

It is my life I can do nothing of my self it's all thru God in Jesus name.

Let me take the opportunity to enquire about the health of your baby daughter, Kennedy. She's fine now, I trust?

Yes she's been home now for almost three months and doing great. thank you.

Do you know of any Polish boxers, besides Wlodarczyk, of course?

Of course Golota hope i spelled it right, not alot of others.

What are your immediate associations regarding Poland or Poles?

I know that you guys are crazy for your athletes boxing soccer ect. but I really havent had the pleasure of befreinding any polish people yet.

When will you arrive in Poland?

Nov 15.

How will the Cunningham vs. Wlodarczyk confrontation end? Did you have any premonitory dreams?

I dont make predictions, But we come to win.

Many thanks for agreeing to this interview. I hope your fight against Wlodarczyk will be long reminisced about in Poland, due to the great sporting class shown by you between the ropes. May the best man win! Let me use the opportunity to assure you that Polish boxing fans love the sweet science and they can appreciate the skills of the real masters. See you in Warsaw, hopefully we could meet there!

Thank you very much for this oppertunity to greet the Polish boxing fans and others we cant wait to come to your country and see how beautiful it is and experience the polish way of ,we thank the promoter for bring this fight to Poland. See ya in a few weeks God Bless Poland.

Article posted on 07.11.2006

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