Steve Cunningham plans move
Former cruiserweight titlist Steve Cunningham signed with promoter Main Events on Wednesday and announced his intention to move up to the heavyweight division, where a rematch with fellow former cruiserweight champion Tomasz Adamek looms next year.
Cunningham's first fight as a heavyweight likely will take place Sept. 8 at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., on the undercard of Adamek's fight against Travis Walker.
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"Moving to heavyweight has always been a move I knew I would make at some point," said Cunningham. "After my last fight we sat down and looked at our options: It was either continue at cruiserweight and go for another world title, but I felt like what's the point? I have been there and done that twice; or I could finally make the move to heavyweight. This felt like the right thing to do."
Cunningham has lost two fights in a row, both to Yoan Pablo Hernandez in cruiserweight world title bouts. Cunningham lost his title to him in October via a highly controversial sixth-round technical decision. In the immediate rematch in February, Hernandez won a unanimous decision in an all-action fight.
Main Events tried to sign Cunningham in 2009, but he opted to sign with German promotional company Sauerland Event -- which had several top cruiserweights under contract -- and has fought his last four bouts in Germany.
But after the recent loss to Hernandez, Cunningham and Sauerland Event agreed to go their separate ways, making him a free agent.
"Both parties had mutually agreed to a contract termination some months ago," Sauerland Event general manager Chris Meyer said. "All of us at Sauerland wish Steven and his family all good. He is a gentleman and a great ambassador of boxing, both inside and outside the ring."
This time, Main Events signed him.
"Steve Cunningham's decision to move up to boxing's top division will make the U.S. heavyweight scene that much more lively and interesting," Main Events chief executive Kathy Duva said. "At 6-foot-3, Steve certainly has the frame to carry more weight and gain strength. We look forward to watching Steve test his skills against the best the division has to offer and expect fireworks."
Said Cunningham: "I am very excited about this new chapter and signing with Main Events. I'm looking forward to working closely with them as we plan my entry into the heavyweight division. It is going to be a welcome change to be fighting close to home again."
Cunningham, 36, of Philadelphia, is a two-time cruiserweight titleholder whose first reign came to an end on a split decision loss to Adamek in December 2008 at the Prudential Center in a slugfest that was one of the best fights of the year.
A rematch was discussed at the time but did not materialize. Adamek fought three more times at cruiserweight and then moved up to heavyweight, where he eventually lost a title fight to Vitali Klitschko in September.
A rematch between Cunningham and Adamek, a Poland native based in Jersey City, N.J., and a major draw in Newark, seems inevitable now that they are both with Main Events and once again fighting in the same weight class.
"Steve fits in the plans that we have," Duva said. "We've talked about how we want to focus on the heavyweight division and his desire to move up had a lot to do with the decision to sign him. That's a fight (a rematch with Adamek) that obviously is in our minds that you might be seeing next year. It's a natural."
Duva said that when she and Cunningham (24-4, 12 KOs) were working out the deal he said he wanted a rematch with Adamek (46-2, 28 KOs).
"When we were talking he asked the question. He asked if he could fight Adamek again," Duva said. "So he wants the fight. It's a natural and hopefully there will be a place for it next year.
"It's guaranteed to be all action like the first time, but with it being in a new weight class."
Cunningham won't be the first top fighter Main Events will help make the transition from cruiserweight heavyweight. Besides Adamek, Main Events also promoted Evander Holyfield, who was the undisputed cruiserweight champion before moving up in weight to become the undisputed heavyweight champion.
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