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Mansour, Cunningham to fight

2/19/2014 - Boxing

Unbeaten Amir "Hardcore" Mansour and former two-time cruiserweight titlist Steve Cunningham will square off in a noteworthy heavyweight fight on April 4, promoter Main Events announced on Wednesday.

The scheduled 10-round bout will take place at the Liacouras Center on the campus of Temple University in Philadelphia, Cunningham's hometown, and headline a "Fight Night" card.

For Mansour (20-0, 15 KOs), the fight is chance for him to put a notable name on his record for the first time while Cunningham (26-6, 12 KOs) needs a victory to keep his hopes of landing a major fight at heavyweight alive.

"I'm really looking forward to this fight. It has everything we want on this series -- heavyweights in an evenly matched crossroads bout at a great venue in a location that really adds something to the match. You can't ask for more," Main Events chief executive Kathy Duva said.

Mansour, a 41-year-old southpaw from Wilmington, Del., won all four of his fights in 2013. In his last fight, he impressively knocked out Kelvin Price in the seventh round on Dec. 14.

"I'm looking forward to this fight more than any other fight in the past," Mansour said. "I'm gonna train for Steve as if my life depends on the win. I greatly respect Steve, but on April 4th I'm gonna speak to the boxing world, using my hands. I will not be denied."

The 6-foot-1, 230-pound Mansour was out of the ring from 2001 to 2010 because he was in prison at the Schuylkill Federal Correctional Institution in Minersville, Pa., for drug possession.

Cunningham (26-6, 12 KOs), 37, of Philadelphia, lost his cruiserweight title to Yoan Pablo Hernandez in 2011 and then, after losing to Hernandez again in their 2012 rematch, did what many cruiserweights do -- he moved up to heavyweight.

But the 6-3, 210-pound Cunningham has had mixed success, going just 2-2 in the division. He did drop top-10 contender Tyson Fury in the second round in an eventual seventh-round knockout loss last April. Cunningham rebounded from that defeat with an eight-round shutout decision against Manuel Quezada on the Mansour-Price undercard on Dec. 14.

"I'm not going to talk this to death. I'm very focused and taking this seriously," Cunningham said of the fight with Mansour. "This time I'm fighting in my backyard and I want to give my fans a spectacular performance. It's time to fight."

Said co-promoter Russell Peltz, "Cunningham has to win this fight to remain viable in the heavyweight division. Mansour needs to win to prove to people that despite beating the second tier of heavyweights en route to his 20-0 record he is capable of taking the next step."