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Steve Cunningham

Career Record, Bio & Fighter Profile for Steve “U.S.S.” Cunningham

Credit: Gianluca (Rio) Di Caro

Steve Cunningham is the current IBF cruiserweight champion of the world. The 34 year old from Philadelphia goes by the moniker “U.S.S” in tribute to the huge aircraft carriers he encountered during the years he spent serving in the American Navy. As the “U.S.S Cunningham” thinks nothing of sailing into enemy territory to do battle, it is indeed a fitting nickname.

Cunningham is widely considered to be the best cruiserweight in the world but having fought just 3 times since December 2007,  his inactivity makes it difficult to judge exactly where he currently stands in the cruiserweight division rankings.


After enjoying some success in the amateur game, including winning the 1998 National Golden Gloves title at 178lbs, Cunningham joined the professional ranks in the year 2000. He was very active in his early career, fighting 11 times in 2001 and progressing swiftly.

In May 2004, Cunningham made what would be the first of many overseas trips when he ventured to South Africa to take on the highly rated Sebastiaan Rothmann. In his most impressive performance to that point, Cunningham earned a majority decision victory.

Cunningham’s biggest showcase to date came on the undercard of Felix Trinidad’s stoppage of Ricardo Mayorga at Madison Square Garden and he didn’t disappoint, stopping Forrest Neal in the 4th round.

His string of impressive victories propelled him up the IBF rankings and in April 2005, Cunningham found himself matched with the tough Guillermo Jones. Cunningham proved he could compete in world class and he took a split decision victory over the Panamanian.

The win earned him an IBF elimination bout with former champion Kevin Davis. Cunningham produced the best display of his career to clearly outpoint Davis and guarantee himself the chance to fight for his first world title.


In November 2006, Cunningham travelled to Warsaw to take on local hero Krzysztof Wlodarczyk for the vacant IBF cruiserweight title. After a close battle, the bout went to the scorecards and two judges scored the bout for the Pole by narrow margins while the third judge awarded Cunningham 11 of the 12 rounds. A furious Cunningham demanded an immediate rematch and 6 months later ventured back to Poland and faced Wlodarczyk again. After dropping Wlodarczyk in the fourth round, Cunningham out-landed the Pole throughout the fight, and although the pair once again went the distance, this time it was the Philadelphian native who had his hand raised as he was awarded a majority decision and the IBF title. Cunningham finally had his world championship belt.

Cunningham moved on to a bout with the much hyped German hope, the controversial Marco Huck. Once again finding himself fighting in an opponents back yard, Cunningham withstood Huck’s early assault and then showed his experience as he boxed superbly to counter the German’s wilder attacks. Huck tired and was eventually stopped in the final round.

After a twelve month layoff, Cunningham faced another Polish fighter when he took on Tomasz Adamek in what developed into a contender for the fight of the year. Although both men had their moments in a thrilling battle, Cunningham was dropped 3 times and after twelve give and take rounds Adamek was awarded a split decision victory. In the process he took Cunningham’s belt and the vacant Ring magazine title.

The close nature of the fight meant Cunningham retained a high ranking with the IBF and he found himself matched with the big punching Wayne Braithewaite in an elimination bout. Braithwaite had no answer for Cunningham’s slick boxing and the Philadelphian took a clear twelve round decision.

Cunningham’s chance to regain his title came against Canadian Troy Ross in June 2010. Looking rusty after another long layoff, Cunningham had to pick himself up from the canvas in the 4th round but a cut suffered by Ross ended matters a round later and Cunningham could once again call himself champion.


Cunningham has yet to return to the ring although he is scheduled to defend his title against Enad Licina in February 2011. As the majority of the world’s best cruiserweights are based in Europe, a recent move to Sauerland Promotions ensures Cunningham enters 2011 in a position to face the top names in the division and cement his place at the top of the world rankings.