With boxing observers always on the lookout for a new heavyweight who might challenge the Klitschko brothers, American fight fans will now get an up close and personal view of the latest "next big thing," as 6'9" heavyweight contender Tyson Fury (20-0, 14 KO's) of the United Kingdom will make his U.S. debut Saturday, April 20th, when he takes on former cruiserweight champion Steve "USS" Cunningham (25-5, 12 KO's) at Madison Square Garden.
The fight is an official IBF heavyweight voluntary eliminator with the number two-ranked position at stake. Currently, Fury is ranked ninth and Cunningham twelfth. The winner will be ranked second and must meet the number one or the leading available contender to establish the mandatory challenger for Wladimir Klitschko's belt.
Fury, the undefeated fighter with the promoter's dream name, is somewhat of an unknown, even to many serious boxing fans. He will be taking on one of his biggest tests in Cunningham, a slick and skilled veteran boxer who recently moved up to the heavyweight division.
"Cunningham's got all the tools; a former World Champion, good fighter, he's got a lot of skill. I'm looking to put on a devastating performance; the best of my career to date." said Fury. "I'm absolutely ecstatic to be fighting at Madison Square Garden; it goes back in history and I can't wait to put my name with a long list of Champions who have fought there - I'm a historian of boxing myself so this is definitely the pinnacle of my career so far."
Although Cunningham will have both the superior boxing skills and the speed edge against Fury, he will face a significant size disadvantage as the much smaller man in the ring. Cunningham is also coming off a controversial decision loss to his old rival Tomasz Adamek, a fight many believed Cunningham won handily.
Nevertheless, Cunningham is ecstatic about the fight, stating, "I'm looking forward to getting back in the ring on April 20th to face Fury. For the first time in my career I have a guy coming to my country to face me. I am certain he's never faced a fighter like me." He added, "What an amazing opportunity to fight in historic Madison Square Garden and return to NBC again. I am prepared to fight a great fight and come out with a victory."
Regardless of who wins this crossroads fight, the boxing world will at least have a better idea as to which man might be a serious contender to the Klitschko brothers.
Should Cunningham prevail, he will have demonstrated that he can at least deal with the size dimensions of a much larger opponent. If Fury wins, he will have proven that he can contend with one of the more skilled boxers of the division.
Tickets to the bout, starting at $25, will go on sale next week.
By Staff of The Daily Sports Herald and news services