Tyson Fury-Steve Cunningham bout will provide answers to heavyweight puzzle

April 18, 2013

Heavyweight contenders Tyson Fury (20-0, 14 KOs) and Steve Cunningham (25-5, 12 KOs) will clash Saturday in a highly-anticipated 12 round bout at Madison Square Garden that could put the victor on track to a heavyweight title fight.

The winner will earn the #2 spot in the IBF world rankings, putting that fighter just one more step away from facing champion Wladimir Klitschko.

More importantly, however, the fight will provide some clarity beyond mere alphabet soup rankings, as it would establish whether either man is a legitimate threat to Klitschko's supremacy.

Fury, who is from the United Kingdom and will be making his first American appearance, is a bit of an unknown with a great name.

At the very least, he talks a good game, as his outspoken nature at the pre-fight press conference brought him much attention. Still, he seems convinced that he can back up his words with an impressive victory over Steve Cunningham, the most seasoned opponent he's faced in his career.

A win over Cunningham would prove that Fury can defeat a more skilled opponent with his ultimate calling card -- superior size and punching power. At 6' 9" tall, he is one of the few men in the division capable of making Klitschko look small.

Cunningham, meanwhile, is a skilled, veteran boxer and former two-time cruiserweight champ who is determined to prove that his transition to the heavyweight division was the right move.

Many thought he was robbed in his recent decision loss to Tomasz Adamek, and rightfully so, but even a win in that fight would have left many still doubting Cunningham's impact on the division because Adamek is an undersized heavyweight himself.

A win against Fury would be a game-changer for Cunningham, as it would show that he can hang in and defeat one of the division's giants.

Styles make fights and this matchup features an interesting contrast in styles. Expect the bigger and younger Fury to try to put his foe on the canvas, while Cunningham attempts to counter with movement, combination punching, conditioning, and ring smarts.

With both men desperately fighting for the right to ultimately face Klitschko, we will learn soon enough who is a contender and who is a pretender to a title shot.

By Staff of The Daily Sports Herald and news services

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