Stevens Pulls Out a Miracle and the USS Cunningham Sails Again!

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Updated: April 6, 2014

In Philadelphia last Friday, two fights occurred that remind us why boxing can be just a great sport.  Tureano Johnson faced a major test in Curtis Stevens, Brooklyn knock out artist.  Despite being undefeated, Johnson was the underdog and conventional wisdom favored Stevens, who has fought some of the best in the business.

Johnson came out smoking as he threw punches in bunches and forced Stevens to retreat. The first three rounds, Johnson pushed Stevens around and it was Stevens who found himself on the rope, playing defense.  Johnson switched from southpaw to orthodox and back but the fight was fought in close so as the fight progressed, stance mattered little. 

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For three rounds and halfway thru the fourth, it was all Johnson before a Stevens left hook shook Johnson and through the last minute, it was all Stevens.  For the last thirty seconds, Stevens looked like the Stevens and it looked like the momentum has changed.  The fifth round saw both fighters have their moment but by the sixth, it was all Johnson again.  Through the eleventh round, it was all Johnson and going into the final round, Johnson was ahead on all cards by safe margins.  Stevens needed a miracle to win and a miracle happened.  Stevens nailed Johnson with a left hook, followed by a series of punches before he pushed Johnson to the rope.  One final shot that twisted Johnson head around 180 degrees and the referee stopped the fight.  

The stoppage was controversy as Johnson felt he could continue and certainly, he had a case by his reaction after the stoppage as he was alert enough to talk to the referee.  Regardless, it was a gritty performance by Stevens to keep fighting in a bout that he was obviously losing by wide margins but then boxing is the one sport that one can overcome a ten round lead with just one blow.    Johnson proved relentless but the overall stats showed a closer fight than the score.  Johnson connected on 235 punches vs. Stevens 223 and Stevens was slightly more accurate statically.

In the main event, Steve “USS” Cunningham faced the undefeated slugger Amir “Hardcore” Mansour in a heavyweight bout.  From Philadelphia, Cunningham was fighting there for the first time in little over a decade.  This was a classic battle between a boxer and a relentless tough brawler.  Mansour began brawling from the opening bell as he pushed the action while throwing haymakers after haymakers. 

Cunningham started bleeding from Mansour power shots in second round but Cunningham returned the favor as his punches cut Mansour eyes the following round.  The dramatic moment came in the fifth round when Mansour knocked Cunningham down twice in the last thirty seconds of the bout.  Cunningham dragged himself up and back to his corner. It look like Mansour power finally overcame the game Cunningham.

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Cunningham started to box effectively in the sixth round as he managed to get himself back in the fight. From this point, it was Cunningham boxing that took over as he played matador to Mansour’s bull.  Mansour did not connect with any consistency over the last half of the fight and Cunningham knocked Mansour down with a quick right in the final round. While the punch did not hurt Mansour, Mansour gloves hit the mat and it became a 10-8 round.

Cunningham won the decision in a hard fought victory but Mansour fought a good fight and almost won it in the fifth round. 

Both bouts were great fights and if nothing else, both fights could happen again. Johnson should have won if he had not gotten caught in the final round and Cunningham used his veteran guiles to survive the Mansour’s onslaught, but there is no guarantee that he could survive a second onslaught.

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