Just as we really didn’t know what the heck to expect from a fight between Antonio Tarver and Frank Mir, we have no real or firm idea of what we can expect to see this Saturday night, when another boxing veteran, Steve Cunningham, will face the MMA legend. Cunningham, a good deal younger than Tarver at age 44, stepped in to replace the former light-heavyweight champ when Tarver was denied a license. Former cruiserweight champ Cunningham spoke to Ringtv.com about Saturday’s fight, and he sees it very much as “boxing versus MMA.”
For years, we’ve heard fans of both combat sports defend their chosen sport, claiming their guys are tougher. In reality, boxing and MMA are two different sports. But Cunningham, who says he is in great shape, having recently sparred 15 rounds with five different fighters, one after the other, says boxing’s honor will be on the line on Saturday when he battles Mir.
“This is boxing versus MMA,” Cuningham, 29-9-1(13) told Ring. “For me, personally, I believe I am representing all of boxing. I’m ready to retire, I don’t want another world title run. I’ve done enough in the sport. I’ve solidified a name. I’ve made legendary fights people will watch for years. The only thing to do now is make some money, have fun, make some exciting matches. If and when we get past Frank Mir and another MMA guy wants to come out, I’ll do that because it’ll be for money, that’ll be entertainment. We have a name people recognize and we can capitalize on that. But I know where I am in boxing.”
Saturday’s fight could prove to be a fan-friendly, action affair, or it could turn out to be one big dud. We just don’t know. But in terms of who wins, Cunningham, despite his inactivity (last boxing in August of 2017, this a decision loss to Andrew Tabiti) should be able to beat Mir in a boxing match. This is Mir’s boxing debut, the former two-time UFC heavyweight champ saying boxing is something he has always wanted to try. Cunningham, unless he’s caught with something big early on, should have enough left to be able to either stop Mir late or win a decision (the fight, up at heavyweight, is scheduled for 8 rounds). Cunningham, we must remember, has been stopped just once, this by Tyson Fury.
Cunningham, who says he will likely enter the ring at around 208 to 2010 pounds, will be giving away a lot of weight; Cunningham saying he expects 41 year old Mir to scale around 250 or 260. So it could be bombs away. It could turn out to be a great action fight. Let’s hope so.