There’s a time when even the most protected fighters get the first true test of their careers. There is no comparing Steve Cunningham’s resume, which is deep and full of recognizable names, to Amir Mansour resume. Will Cunningham’s experience and reach advantage be too “hardcore” for Mansour to overcome? We will find out this Friday night from Philly on the NBC Sports Network.
Amir Mansour’s first fight was in 1997, and at age 41 his career is really just getting started after taking over 9 years off from 2001 to 2010. Mansour comes into this matchup sporting an unblemished record of 20 wins with no losses and 15 of those wins coming by way of knockout.
Since his return to boxing Amir was busy in 2011 with five fights and fought four times last year. However, in 2012 Mansour was idle in the ring but still managed to get some attention from underground hardcore fans. A former caller of mine named “South Carolina” on the Rope A Dope Radio show used to warn us about Mansour and how in a few years he would take over the Heavyweight division.
In his last fight Mansour defeated Kelvin Price but the fight before had some issues that raised red flags when breaking down this fight versus Cunningham. The scorecards for his fight with Maurice Harris can be very deceiving if you look at the judges that had it 120-108 and 119-109. The actual fight was reflected on the third judge’s scorecard a much closer at 116-112 still in favor of Amir.
Harris was able to use his size and jab to work his way inside at times troubling Mansour, who gave away 6 inches of arm reach. Mansour has a compact frame standing around 6 feet tall with a 74 inch reach depending on what website you want to believe.
Amir pays attention to detail on the defensive side of things with good head and upper body movement. He has shown the ability to counter well and a crouching type stance using leverage in his punch helping him produce plenty of pop. His offensive weapons consists of a jab that needs to be thrown more accurately, lead straight or overhand lefts, lead rights hooks, and works the body well when his opponent is cornered.
Defense for Amir can be both a positive and negative. He keeps his hands way too low leaving him open for uppercuts. Another thing I noticed when watching tapes of Amir was the shape of his punches. He can get wide with his punches and also lunges leaving him very susceptible to incoming fire.
Steve U.S.S. Cunningham is a very skilled fighter with good hand speed and a long jab that will come in handy if he hopes be the winner of this Friday night fight from his hometown of Philadelphia. He can control a fight from the outside yet still fan friendly enough to make most of his fights entertaining.
With 8 inches of reach Cunningham should fight smart positioning himself just outside of the pocket, instead of making the mistake that’s been made by many of fighters performing in their backyard. Busy work and foot movement will be the keys for Cunningham to come out victorious. If he allows himself to get caught up in a war it could be a sign of things to come and favor Mansour.
His first fight with Tomasz Adamek is a perfect example of coasting with a lead and getting caught with a big punch that forces him to the canvas, a place he’s experience 8 times in his last 8 fights. The level of competition that Cunningham has faced win, lose, or draw is very impressive. Losing two split decisions to Adamek, most thought he won the second fight, two fights with Yoan Pablo Hernandez, and a slew of other high level opposition at Crusierweight and Heavyweight will be the difference in this matchup.
He’s learned from past fights on the road overseas, and knows the fight is not in the bag until the final bell is rung. Considering his skill level Cunningham has been hurt plenty and has a bad habit of walking himself to the ropes or parking on them to by time in ear muff mode.
I fully expect Cunningham to control most of the action and distance with sprinkles of Mansour flurries throughout the fight. The one question that I have is who will come forward in this fight? Maybe they will take turns pushing the pace but a lot of this fight may reside in the middle of the ring.
Although Mansour has those defense and counter punching skills he has never done it versus a real test. I just can’t shake watching Mansour struggle at times with Harris out of my mind. His inexperience and sloppiness will cost him this fight.
Cunningham’s jab, reach advantage, and activity will help earn him a victory in a fight that will be entertaining with each fighter having their moments.
My official prediction is Steve U.S.S. Cunningham to win by Unanimous Decision.