photos by Rich Graessle/Main Events — Philadelphia, PA: This afternoon fans and the media were treated to a verbal sparring match between Steve “USS” Cunningham and Amir “Hardcore” Mansour as they faced each other at the final press conference for this Friday’s fight at the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia and on NBCSN Fight Night. Amir’s words incited a vocal reaction from Cunningham. The quotes and photos from the events are highlighted below.
Kathy Duva started things off by saying, “We have a spectacular event here. This is another fantastic show. It is going to be a treat for everyone. We are thrilled to be back here in beautiful downtown Philadelphia where it seems like boxing was born and we are trying to keep it alive.”
Hall of Fame Matchmaker J Russell Peltz emceed the event. He said, “Whenever Edner Cherry is on the first or second fight on a card you know the card is stacked. This is an excellent main event. “These guys come to fight. Main Events’ matchmaker Jolene Mizzone tried hard to find someone competitive to fight Curtis Stevens. Steve [Cunningham] is coming off a win. He has loads of experience. In my opinion he defeated Tomasz Adamek and the only reason he lost to Tyson Fury is because Tyson is about seven feet tall and he still put Fury on the floor.”
Brother Naazim Richardson, Steve Cunningham’s trainer said, “This is a great match-up style-wise. If you know what this man has been through with his daughter none of us know that pain. To face the death of your child that is a darkness no one should ever face. Not to say jail is not a dark place but what he and his wife is facing is bigger than boxing. I have watched him persevere and become a two-time world champion. Steve isn’t going to intimidate anyone out of the ring, but when you compare skill he wins hands down. What he has accomplished has been on skill and skill alone.”
Two-time cruiserweight champion Steve “USS” Cunningham said, “Thank you to Main Events, Peltz Boxing and NBC for putting this on. I am not going to get into what we are going through. What is the evidence of a thing, not seen, but hoped for? Faith. You could never tell me that I am not going to be a world champion. I have faith. I back down from no man. In actuality who isn’t from the streets? Who isn’t hard out here? We are all hard when we need to be. A smart man knows how to survive, when to fight and when not to fight. We all have the rough tough story. No man on this earth scares me especially within a four-corner ring with rules. I am getting in this ring to win. We are going to get it on Friday.” He added, “My main advantage is experience. This is boxing. We sign up to fight. I never worry about anyone’s power. I have been facing these type of situations since day one.”
Joe Hand Jr., Amir Mansour’s promoter said, “We want to thank Main Events and Peltz Boxing for allowing Mansour to have this opportunity. Friday night you have two championship caliber fighters. They are going to go in there very prepared. It is going to be a great fight.”
Howard Mosley, Amir’s trainer said, “Mansour is a great champion. He trains and fights like a champion. I know Steve Cunningham has been a beautiful champion who I admire very much. I believe in my heart that Amir works harder than anyone I have ever seen. I have never seen him work this hard for anything before. He has natural talent. Anything I asked him to do he did.”
Amir “Hardcore” Mansour said, “I am not trying to scare him or act like some sort of gangster or street thug. I despise the streets. I despise anyone who carries themselves like a thug or a gangster. I don’t brag about being incarcerated. I am ashamed of being incarcerated. I am disappointed in myself. I am not using prison to be a pedestal for my toughness. I don’t deny who I am as a person. I don’t deny my history, my present or my future. My future is to be successful in this game right here. I have never seen a skill set that can out-match mine and I have never had to use all my skill sets. Sometimes I need to utilize strength instead of skill. I don’t have a padded record. I didn’t have the luxury of fighting a bunch of bums. I have a very talented skill set of boxing. I can box. I can out-box you. You can’t beat me in boxing. I am not letting anyone take my title. I am coming to get you. You are not going to beat me with no jab. You are going to have to come and get this work. We all go through problems with our friends and family but you are not going to take my title. You are going to have to come and get this work. He was a great cruiserweight champion but this is the heavyweight division and that was a few years ago.”
Tureano Johnson was very confident about his fight with Curtis Stevens, “It is a pleasure to be back here. I appreciate the opportunity despite that I was given less than a month’s notice. I am going to go in there and beat this guy up. He said I am a slapper and a bit sloppy. Come Friday night someone is going to get bitch-slapped. I am going to enjoy this but I cannot say the same for him. Let’s pray I don’t put him in the hospital. This is the most important fight of my life but I don’t think it is the most difficult. I never fought anyone with Curtis Stevens’ power but he is not going to catch me. That dude is not catching me. There is nothing he can show me.” Johnson laughed as he and Curtis faced each other for the photographers and Curtis was blowing bubbles with his chewing gum. The two continued to trash talk with each other until they were separated by Main Events’ Public Relations Director Ellen Haley.
Curtis Stevens was more diplomatic and simply said, “I would like to thank my terrific promoter Kathy Duva and my surrogate mother Jolene Mizzone for matching me very well. I will go in there just take care of business. Yes, he’s undefeated but he’s fought 14 softies. Come Friday he is going to be in there with the real thing. I am not going to tell him; I will have to show him.”
Roberto Acevedo, who is making his Main Events’ debut Friday, said, “I feel happy. Thank you Main Events, thanks NBC. I am from Puerto Rico. I am happy for this opportunity. I get hard work. I know I am going to do a great job. Thanks for this opportunity.”