Fury was finally able to impose his size to earn a 7th round stoppage.
British Heavyweight Claims Number Two Spot in IBF Rankings
American heavyweight Steve “USS” Cunningham (25-6, 12 KOs) gave Tyson Fury (21-0, 15 KOs) all he could handle over the first half of their fight at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, but a late 7th round body shot from the undefeated British fighter would set up what became the last punch of the bout. With just seconds remaining in that frame, Fury followed up that body blow with a perfectly placed right hook that sent Cunningham to the canvas, and the Philadelphia native was then unable to beat the ensuing 10-count.
Standing 6-foot-9, Fury towered over Cunningham, a former cruiserweight, owning a six-inch height and 44-pound weight advantage. Cunningham approached him in the first round with intelligent caution, moving forward with his gloves peeled to his head and looking to break down the space in front of him. In typical Fury fashion, his mouth was going throughout this fight, and he finished off the first frame with words towards Cunningham and pushed him into his corner after the bell.
In the second round, Cunningham earned some payback and temporarily shut up his trash talking. With his hands down and mouth running, Fury threw a lazy left hand, and Cunningham blasted him with an overhand right that sent the British fighter straight backwards and to the canvas. Fury remained down until the eight-count came from referee Eddie Cotton, with the American fans in the Garden erupting and the European spectators watching in disbelief.
Fury himself seemed to be in a bit of shock after the knockdown, and Cunningham began to operate with sincere confidence. He used the bend well to get under the wide swinging hooks of his opposition, also buzzing Fury on more than a few occasions when he fired straight right hands through the middle of his guard. Those right hands began developing some rather significant swelling under the left eye of his British counterpart, and his movement was paying him dividends as Fury attempted to lean on him and take a bullying approach to the bout.
At the start of the 5th frame, Fury was deducted a point by Cotton for head butting, but he was beginning to have more success imposing his massive size into this fight. He landed a few solid shots on Cunningham that backed him up a bit, and those in attendance could see him regaining confidence as his clowning antics began to return. The 254-pounder got his British fans back into the action between the 5th and 6th rounds, doing the equivalent of a Rob Gronkowski dance impression to Drake’s YOLO.
The 6th frame had some good exchanges, but a re-energized Fury was beginning to have greater success imposing his size. The following round saw him dramatically decrease the amount of space available for Cunningham, who tried to throw numbers in an attempt to make some room. Late in the 7th frame is when Fury’s size and constant leaning paid off, and he ripped Cunningham to the body with a hard left hook on the ropes. The shot hurt the Philadelphia fighter, who grimaced after absorbing it. Cunningham tried to move on his back heels to recover, but Fury was able to track him down in the corner. After pulling down his left hand, Fury unloaded a right hook with five seconds remaining in the round, and 10 seconds was not enough time for Cunningham to get back to his feet.
The win made it a successful American debut for Fury, who claimed the number two spot in the IBF Rankings with the victory.