By Jack Price @PriceyJ97.
Tyson Fury knew he was taking on the most skilled and talented opponent in his career so far when he went head-to-head with American Steve Cunningham on Saturday (April 20th) at Madison Square Gardens, but he was not expecting what he got in the first few rounds against 'USS.'
Fury, who stated on plenty of occasions that Cunningham was a "blown-up cruiserweight" seemed needless to worry about the 36-year old's power going into this fight. So it came as a stunning shock to the 6'9" giant when he was left on his backside on the canvas halfway through round 2. After Fury dominating the first 3 minutes of the fight, out of nowhere came a perfectly-timed over-hand right from Cunningham that toppled Fury to the floor. We now had a real exciting fight. Yes, Fury had the massive size advantage but Cunningham could hurt him at anytime.
With his trainer and uncle Peter not in his corner, Tyson seemed to lack the composure and discipline that we have seen from him in recent fights. The 24-year old came out in round 3, looking to meet fire with fire. A tactic that left him wide open to even more big right hands from Cunningham and eventually a point deduction in round 5.
As the fight progressed Fury seemed to drag himself back into it, but it wasn't convincing. Cunningham shouldn't have really been able to get near the 24-year old, but he did, and he was connecting with solid shots. Eventually what we were expecting did happen. Fury started to man-handle his smaller opponent and used his 5-inch height and 3-stone weight advantage to pin him to the ropes and land a devastating right-hook that almost snapped Cunningham in half. Cunningham was unable to make the count, and Fury was confirmed as the winner by 7th round KO.
The winner of this fight looked set to take on a Klitschko brother (most likely Wladimir) later this year. But I can't see this being the case now. Fury's comeback was impressive, but he was against Cunningham, an extremely small heavyweight, not a full-blown dominant world heavyweight champion. On Saturday night, with that performance from Fury, Klitschko would have had him out of there in 3 rounds.
For Fury now, despite remaining undefeated, it's back to the drawing board, just for a short amount of time. Brush up on your defence, work with Peter and just perfect the game-plan you will need against short and powerful fighters. I stand by what I have always said; Fury will be world champ. He just needs a little more time than I thought.
Cunningham, I still believe is a world-class heavyweight. He just needs the right opponents. He is a very skilled technical fighter and would out-box most of the top 15 (Povetkin, Banks, Adamek, Chisora, Mitchell) in my opinion. He was just simply not big enough to compete with the giant that stood in front of him on this night.
Credit has to be given to both of these men for taking the fight. It was expected to be risky for both of them and it proved to be exactly that in ring at Madison Square Gardens. One thing we know for sure is that Fury will have gained a few more American fans with a US debut like that!