Steve “USS” Cunningham’s run in the heavyweight divisions has been a lot more successful than many tend to acknowledge. Since moving up in weight, the former cruiserweight world champ has gone 3-2, but that record is a bit deceiving.
Of his two heavyweight defeats, his split decision loss to Tomasz Adamek was widely panned by fans and media. And even in his seventh round TKO to Tyson Fury, Cunningham (27-6, 12 KOs) managed to account quite well for himself, dropping Fury in the second round and battling gallantly in a sloppy, foul-filled contest against an opponent sporting a 44 lb. weight advantage to go along with a six inch height advantage.
In his three victories, Cunningham has beaten journeymen Jason Gavern and Manuel Quezada, along with fringe contender Amir Mansour.
At 38 years of age and with considerable wear and tear on his body, it’s safe to say that we may have seen Cunningham get as far as he’s going to get in the heavyweight division. His true place in the division of the big men may be somewhere between Mansour and Fury– not too shabby for a fighter many thought would fail spectacularly as a heavyweight. His status as one of the few American heavyweights of note will also serve him well as he pockets modest paydays and seeks to parlay them into something much bigger later.
One of those modest paydays will take place on October 18 in his hometown of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and televised by the NBC Sports Network.
Pitted against “The Samoan Truth” Natu Visinia (10-0, 8 KOs), Cunningham will have a huge edge in both learned skill and practical experience.
The 6′ 2″ 260+ lb. Visinia has never been past six rounds in his ten-fight career, but is more mature as a fighter than one would expect because of experience in several high-profile training camps and a brief career as an MMA fighter.
Still, Visinia’s resume is paper-thin, with his opponents so far sporting a combined record of just 22-22. Cunningham will be the first opponent of Visinia’s to have double-digit victories.
Cunningham-Visinia is an odd pairing, to say the least. On paper, one could even say that it was a mismatch. But Cunningham is still being overlooked and underrated as a heavyweight, so a bout like this will get by, under everyone’s radar. It’s the first time Cunningham is using the doubts and lowered expectations to his benefit. The strategy will probably do wonders for his bank statement.