Steve Cunningham: Running Out of Time

By Francis Walker
Updated: February 7, 2012

NEW YORK, NY (BASN) Steve Cunningham (24-4, 12 KOs) was recently recognized as the No. 1 cruiserweight in the world. Cunningham, a former two-time IBF cruiserweight champion, lost his title in a controversial manner to Yuan Pablo Hernandez in Germany last October. An accidental clash of heads occurred and Hernandez was ruled ineligible to continue. They went to the scorecards and Cunningham lost, via six-round technical decision.

Everyone in boxing recognized the decision was controversial and Cunningham was granted an immediate rematch.

Unfortunately for Cunningham, he performed worse in the rematch with Hernandez and failed miserably to reclaim his IBF title for the third time. Cunningham suffered two knockdowns in the fourth round and was simply out-hustled by a fighter he never should have lost to in the first place. Cunninghman lost a unanimous decision.

Cunningham is an action fighter. He has some quality wins on his resume and is always fun to watch. However, his recent struggles in high-profile fights suggest maybe his time at the top is limited.

How can someone like a Steve Cunningham, a well-conditioned, ripped, and ready fighter, struggle the way he has in some of his biggest moments.

Perhaps Cunningham’s most dazzling performance was when he stopped Marco Huck in defense of the IBF cruiserweight belt in December 2007 in Germany. The all-action fight wasn’t televised in America, but is definitely a collector’s item for those interested in watching Cunningham at his very best. The battle was fast and furious, as punches were thrown with rapid conviction. But in the end, it was Cunningham, the better conditioned and supreme fighter, that won by TKO stoppage.

Usually, to the victor goes the spoils, as it was supposed to have been Cunningham (not Huck) emerge as a dominant cruiserweight champion. Huck went back to the drawing board, claimed the WBO cruiserweight championship in May 2009, and defended it eight times. Huck will next challenge Alexander Povetkin for a heavyweight title on February 25, in Germany.

Next, Cunningham fought Tomasz Adamek in a wild slugfest in a ‘Fight of the Year’ type slugfest in December 2008. However, Cunningham lost the IBF cruiserweight title in the process. Cunningham never received a rematch, as Adamek used the win over Cunningham to launch a three-year campaign for a heavyweight title shot.

Adamek lost his world title shot against WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko last September.

Cunningham, although he did recapture a vacant IBF cruiserweight title, surprisingly, hasn’t won a significant fight since he Huck nearly 4 ½ years ago. Cunningham appears to be on a downward spiral, while both Huck and Adamek reigned supreme as cruiserweight titlists and eventually secured heavyweight title shots.

Cunningham is much better than his losses to Hernandez indicate. But it’s hard to make that case when Hernandez has two wins on his record against Cunningham, who has four losses.

What a shame.

Is the gas tank on empty or can Steve Cunningham turn it around one more time?