Philadelphia heavyweight Steve Cunningham KO'd by Tyson Fury

Steve Cunningham (right) battles Tyson Fury . Fury knocked out Cunningham in seven. MARY ALTAFFER / AP
Steve Cunningham (right) battles Tyson Fury . Fury knocked out Cunningham in seven. MARY ALTAFFER / AP
Posted: April 21, 2013

NEW YORK - Helpless against the ropes, a fatigued Steve Cunningham crumpled as Tyson Fury leveled him with a powerful right hook. Referee Eddie Cotton began his count as Cunningham lay motionless on the mat Saturday afternoon at the Theatre at Madison Square Garden.

For the first time in his 13-year career, Cunningham had been knocked out.

But the West Philadelphian and his team believe they were wronged.

"He held me up with his forearm and punched me," Cunningham said. "That's illegal."

Cunningham's trainer, Naazim Richardson, said an appeal of the fight is possible. But he said it was not the proper time to make that decision. The 6-foot-9 Fury used his 6-inch height advantage throughout the fight as he leaned on Cunningham and slowed his momentum by grasping him.

"There was no boxing ability in there," Fury said. "I didn't show nothing. All I showed was heart."

Cunningham (25-6, 12 KOs) has lost two of his three heavyweight bouts since moving up from cruiserweight last fall. He said he has no plans to move back to the weight class where he was a two-time world champion. Fury (21-0, 15 KOs), from Manchester, England, advanced to meet Kubrat Pulev, and the winner of that bout will meet Wladimir Klitschko in a title fight.

A 4-1 underdog, Cunningham shocked the crowd as he knocked down Fury in the second round with a right hook. After the first round, a clearly agitated Fury shoved Cunningham well after the bell.

"He knew he couldn't outbox me, he knew he couldn't beat me like that," Cunningham said. "So he took it to the alleyways."

Cunningham stunned Fury in the fourth with an overhand right. Early in the fifth, Fury was deducted a point for a head butt.

Fury responded to the deduction by controlling the rest of the round. He danced to the arena's music between rounds and fought with confidence. Cunningham's pace slowed; fatigue had set in. Fury was simply too big.

By the middle of the seventh round it was clear that a knockout was near. A right hook from Fury made it happen.

"I was just hunting him down, like a lion on a deer," Fury said. "And he was running away and I hunted him down. Bang. Struck cold. Goodnight."

On the undercard, North Philadelphia's Karl Dargan improved to 13-0 with a technical knockout of Edward Valdez. Valdez was unable to continue past the second round because of an injured right hand. Dargan started turning his strong defense into swift combinations before the fight was halted.

"I was like a ghost," Dargan said. "I was hitting him, but he couldn't see me to hit me back."


Contact Matt Breen at mbreen@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @matt_breen.

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