His entrance into the Professional world of boxing came about on somewhat of a whim, but this Philly banger, father of two and husband, took advantage of a given opportunity, and it paid off …handily and now he’s a world champion. Steve “USS” Cunningham, No, it’s not a naval ship but it is a fight moniker, that true boxing fans need to get acclimated with.
Steve (21-1-11KO’S) made his pro debut on October 28, 2000, his opponent was Norman Jones, an individual who himself, was also making a pro debut. It seemed like a likely occurrence but how this opportunity came about, could be seen as a blessing.
CB. Steve tell me something about how and when you turned pro
SC. Well it was after the eastern trials, I had gotten fired from my job for going to the trials, I got my first pro fight on six hours notice. I got a call from Ebo Elder’s father, Greg Elder on a Saturday morning. He called and said “do you want to fight tonight?” I said, “How much are they paying, because I’m flat broke” and he said “a thousand dollars for a four rounder” man, I jumped at that, I was already in shape. They thought they were paying for a ‘duck’ but I went in there and stunk up the whole joint. I beat their guy and that’s how my career started right there.
CB. Steve, as of this moment, you stand at the top of the division as a champion. Is there an option of opponents who you’d want to unify the titles with?
SC. now that David Haye has moved up to heavy weight, I’d like to fight Firat Arslan who’s from Germany you know, just unifying the titles overall, is the goal. I’m trying to get a solidified fight with Mormeck and that would be for the Ring title, either one I’m trying to do. Unification is the ultimate goal.
CB. Prior to Haye vacating the titles, were there talks of a unification match.
SC. Well there was Don Majestic, he deals with David Haye we were going to be flown to England for the fight, because they wanted him to stay at cruiserweight but it’s up to the fighter but he chose to move up to heavyweight because he couldn’t keep the weight down. Overall, there were little talks, but nothing serious. I was thinking, “If he’s already unified the titles (WBA, WBC, WBO) with all the other champions out there, why not go for the last champion”.
CB. Would you consider yourself a road-warrior, having fought both, internationally and nationally? What are some of the differences between the two, both advantages and disadvantages?
SC. I do consider myself a road-warrior but I consider myself a world champion because when you say world champion, that means fighting in the whole world not just fighting in Vegas, not just fighting in your home town and that entails traveling I mean if I’m a world champion, I should be comfortable traveling anywhere to defend my title. So yeah, I feel I’m road warrior but it’s paid off. The pressure for fighting away from home and where I’m going into my opponents home town, well they have all of the pressure on them, they have to impress their hometown fans, I know I have to do my part as well but it’s more pressure on them. It plays two parts, not being able to acclimate to the time, not being able to travel well and the fights overseas are so big. Germany, France & Poland, those fights are huge so when boxing comes it can throw a lot of people off if they aren’t use to large crowds.
CB. How do you define your style?
SC. I define my style as a boxer-puncher but truthfully, I become whatever I need to be to leave the ring a winner. I train fight on the outside, to box not brawl, to not get hit to adapt to any situation and quickly.
CB. What keeps you focused, disciplined, determined & motivated?
SC. my faith in my lord, Jesus Christ, overall the bible tells me that “I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me & I’m not to fear any man but only fear God” and secondly, I got a family with a wife, son & daughter you know, when my son says “my dads a world a world champ” that’s something that I want to keep, it’s a business and I want to do it for as long as I can.
CB. Who would you define as your toughest fight and why?
SC. Guillermo Jones I probably underestimated him a bit, after seeing him at the weigh in but he was a real smart, crafty fighter aside from that, I wore black tights underneath my trunks because I wanted to look good but after the third round, I was extremely exhausted my muscles felt drained I learned a lesson from doing that but it showed that I can still dig deep and win a fight like that
CB. The cruiserweight division is a division that has been somewhat, of a who’s who. Are you content with your position in this division or do you think you could be lured to the heavyweight division for more lucrative pay-days
SC. right now, I believe this is where God wants me, I believe I was created to do exactly what I’m doing right now, I’m patient, I wait on the Lord, we pray before every fight. I’m very content with where are right now, of course we work hard to get more but I’m very content with where we are right now, if the proper fight presented itself, I’d put on the pounds and do it considering I do spar with heavyweights.
CB. When can Philadelphia expect to see their very own champion, defending the title at home?
SC. We’re in the talks right now with Don King we going to pitch a fight for next year and see how the Philly fans base is doing.
CB. Your moniker “USS” where did it come from?
SC. I started fighting in the navy, initially; I had a few different monikers. ’Quiet storm’, ‘destroyer’ Cunningham but they just didn’t fit. Me and my wife, sat down and came up with
USS” Cunningham, we said let’s commission our name as a ship. The name fits and it fits perfectly.
CB. Do you feel as though your fan base is home grown or more welcomed abroad?
SC. Most definitely abroad. I fought in Germany; five million people saw the fight on television in Germany. We left for our flight the next morning, and almost didn’t make it because we were getting mobbed with people asking for autographs and wanting to take pictures. But when we got back home to Philly, it was just us walking back to our car, no cameras or nothing. I’m not really seeking fame but who doesn’t want a fan base.
CB. life outside boxing, what does it involve?
SC. I’m part of the FCS fellowship of Christian athletes. We go to schools, show off the belt, give them stories about faith and tell them how that ties into what I do. I’ve got the pizza shop dealing with that, I play paint balls, you know, just acting like a kid sometimes.
CB. you are now an entrepreneur, tell me more about that
SC. Well, you hear all of the stories about fighters who have made millions of dollars, only to later once their career is over, become broke. I mean they don’t have nothing, not even a car. I mean being hear in Philly, you see these guys. I said to myself, I don’t want to be one of these guys, I don’t want to be broke when I’m through fighting. So, after my first championship fight, me and my wife came across of this pizza shop that was for sale, and we thought it would be a good investment and its working pretty good.
CB. To your fan base near and far, what would you like to say to them?
SC. I would like to thank those that prayed for us & for my daughter. Keep your eyes out for me. I’m going to be hitting the big scene soon, HBO & SHOWTIME.
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This site was last updated 07/12/08