(Photo credit: Ed Diller/DiBella Entertainment) At first glance “Sleepy Hallow” is a fitting title for the Heavyweight main event tonight for the PBC on Spike. There’s a good chance it could be a sleepy affair. The argument could be made that the bout is being slept on as well. At least the location is solid with a main event featuring somewhat known boxers and two fighters of polish decent on the televised portion of the broadcast which will air live at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.
Does anyone care about Antonio Tarver’s aspirations of topping George Foreman’s record? Not really. Even with a win the goal won’t be accomplished until he gets a likely shot at Deontay Wilder’s WBC strap. Cunningham isn’t the household name that sparks interest per-say either which is the main reason why this fight has been put out to pasture and thrown on the pile of meaningless fights made by the PBC.
Steve Cunningham may be a journeyman at heavy but his run at cruiserweight had a few high moments. Marco Huck, who fights on the undercard, runs the cruiser division, a fighter that was stopped in the 12th round by USS Cunningham.
Cunningham, like many men in this tragedy of a sport throughout time, has come up on the short-end of the stick on a few decisions in his career. In fact, in his last outing versus Vyacheslav Glazkov Steve could have gotten the nod. If this fight is close odds are the bigger name will get pick up the “W”.
Cunningham is warrior that won’t be out-hustled by Tarver and that alone could be worth the price of admission. Tarver has looked sluggish to decent at best since entering the ranks at crusier/heavyweight. However, last December he looked much closer to form, albeit coming against Jonathan Banks, known more these days as Wladimir Klitschko’s trainer. From the looks of it both men are in tip-top condition heading into Friday night’s tilt. Cunningham a trim 204 and Tarver at 217 with some loose material around the midsection.
Tarver’s mid-section could be a major vulnerability if Cunningham targets the body early and often to go along with a steady jab and overhand rights. My guess is power won’t play a large role with Cunningham or Tarver. Sure either man could stop or hurt the other, just ask Tyson Fury and Jonathan Banks.
Tarver has the advantage as a skillful veteran, whereas Cunningham lack of high level ability is made up for in heart and hustle. Taking consideration of the slow-average workrate in the division, this could be a decently paced fight. Cunningham usually delivers entertainment whether it’s from a steady work with a lead as a front runner or getting off the canvas and back into fights.
The biggest question mark is location, which I assume will be the center of the ring. If so who will take the lead to push or force the other man to throw more effective punches? If Tarver is the man coming forward Steve’s large reach advantage could come in to play. Ultimately, it will be Tarver who controls the ring and will have to be Cunningham coming of his shell to fluster or possibly wear down the older and less physically in-shape boxer.
A slow start will ensue but once each combatant warms up their aging engines we should get a competitive two-way contest. Cunningham tends to get off track game plan wise and that’s generally when trouble strikes. After an early lead from Cunningham, Tarver will get his timing down and land the cleaner more telling shots to earn a close but clear win. My heart is going for Cunningham but my brain favors more skilled.
My official prediction is Antonio Tarver by Unanimous Decision.
Side Note: Marco “Captain” Huck sets sail to America marking his first fight in the country when he takes on unbeaten Krzysztof Glowacki. Huck is a can’t-miss TV fighter so don’t. Also, Artur Szpilka sees action in the opening bout versus Yasmany Consuergra.
Written by Chris Carlson Owner & Host of Rope A Dope Radio
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