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USS Cunningham gets off the deck to beat Mansour, Stevens scores controversial final round stoppage

Credit: Rich Graessle / Main Events

Steve “USS” Cunningham (27-6, 12 KOs) took down the undefeated Amir “Hardcore” Mansour (20-1, 15 KOs) via unanimous decision at the Liacouras Center.

In the all-Philly main event, Philadelphia-raised Cunningham and Philadelphia-trained Mansour brawled for ten rounds of heart-stopping action that had the entire crowd at the Liacouras Center on their feet and screaming for more. These two warriors just kept coming at each other for ten straight rounds. By the end they were both bleeding and and battle-worn.

Mansour was relentless from the first bell. He kept coming at Steve with huge looping hooks. Cunningham began bleeding in the second round. Then Cunningham cut Mansour over the same eye in the third.

Mansour knocked Cunningham down twice in the fifth but Steve managed to get back up just before the bell. Cunningham came back with a vengeance in the sixth and the crowd at the Liacouras Center was on their feet. The fans were split equally as half chanted “Hardcore” and half chanted “USS.” By the ninth the chants of “Steve” drowned out everything else.

Cunningham knocked Mansour down in the tenth and went on to win via unanimous decision. One judge scored the fight 97-90 and the other two scored the fight 95-92.

Kathy Duva said, “Jolene Mizzone and J Russell Peltz are the best matchmakers in the business, hands down. That was the bull and the matador. Steve, you get knocked down but you get back up baby!”

Steve said, “With my God I can do anything! Faith is all I have. I was alright. I have been down before and got up and won. He wasn’t built for the ‘USS’ Cunningham. I want to be heavyweight world champion. ‘USS’ Cunningham always finds a way.”

Mansour said, “I can’t complain. He was the better man; the tougher man. I got tired but he got tired too. I just kept stepping on the gas pedal because that is just the fighter in me. You got to be smart in the ring if you want to be successful and tonight he was smarter than me.”

In arguably the best of 2014 so far, Brooklyn’s own Curtis “Showtime” Stevens (27-4, 20 KOs) came from behind to knockout Nassau, Bahamas native Tureano Johnson (14-1, 10 KOs) in the tenth round. The crowd was into every punch from the first bell until the referee called the fight with slightly more than two minutes to go in the fight.

Both fighters came swinging in the first. In the first two minutes of the first round, Johnson fought southpaw to confuse Stevens then he switched back to orthodox. He continued to switch back and forth throughout the fight. It seemed to work for the first few rounds as Stevens appeared to take a beating. Then in the fourth round Stevens turned the tables on Johnson and unleashed a holy war on him.

Johnson was relentless; he never slowed down the entire fight. He controlled the pace and made Stevens fight his fight. He kept coming forward. Johnson connected for 38% of his punches (235 of 624) and Stevens connected for 40% (223 of 557). However Curtis landed 45% of his power punches (210 of 470) and Johnson landed 39% (231 of 598. Both men landed 15% of their jabs but Curtis landed 13 of 87 and Johnson only landed 4 of 26.

This back-and-forth battle continued and neither fighter seemed to have control of the any one round. Johnson had Curtis against the ropes for the majority of the fight. Stevens reached another level in the tenth and unloaded on Johnson. The referee stopped the fight at 2:09 in the tenth. Johnson was not happy with the decision and continued to contend that he was not going down.

Johnson was actually leading on the scorecards convincingly and Curtis needed the knockout in order to win. Through nine rounds the judges had Johnson up 87-84, 89-82 and 89-82.

Stevens said, “I didn’t set it up the way I was supposed to set it up. He was smothering me. He did what he was supposed to do. He came in here and smothered me.”

An upset Johnson said, “It is a privilege to be here. It was unfortunate that I didn’t get the win. Curtis Stevens is a great fighter. The stoppage was an unfair one but I accept it. I worked hard and I won every round. I worked hard for this. I want a rematch immediately.”

Kathy Duva said, “Johnson, your stock just went way up. I would love to schedule a rematch for both these fights on HBO because these fights were unbelievable.”

Gary Shaw plans on filing a protest…

“I’m outraged that my fighter Tureano Johnson was robbed of his ability to finish the fight.” said Gary Shaw. “Johnson clearly could have continued on. Stevens is nothing. Johnson was winning every round. I’m going to protest this premature stoppage and demand an immediate rematch. To rob a fighter like Johnson got robbed tonight is preposterous. With what Johnson gave the fans tonight, he should have at least been able to finish the fight. I’m beside myself with this decision.”

“I wanted to come out tonight and give the fans an all action war.” said Tureano Johnson. “My game plan was to come right at Stevens and bring the fight to him. I did exactly what I wanted to do and I was winning the fight convincingly. I have a great chin. When he landed that left hook in the final round, I was rocked, but I was ready to continue. I was robbed by the referee tonight and the fans should rally behind me to command an instant rematch. My message to Curtis Stevens is…you better not run from the rematch, because if you do, the fans will know you’re a fraud.”

Junior welterweights Evincii Dixon (4-4-1, 2 KOs) of Lancaster, PA and Edgardo Torres (2-3, 2 KOs) of Vineland, NJ squared off in the last undercard fight of the evening. Dixon came out of the gate guns blazing and knocked down Torres in the first. Torres lasted 2:45 into the second round before the referee called him out and declared Dixon the winner by TKO. Dixon said, “This is boxing. I see you hurt and I am going to attack.”

In a match-up of undefeated light heavyweights, Notre Dame alum Mike Lee (12-0, 7 KOs) knocked out Peter Lewison (6-1, 5 KOs) in the sixth round. Lewison was bleeding near his upper lip in the fifth and Lee knocked him down in the sixth before shutting him down at 1:39. Lee showed his Notre Dame pride by sporting blue and gold trunks/gloves and definitely had the crowd on his side.

In an eight round light heavyweight war Roberto Acevedo of Puerto Rico (8-2, 5 KOs) and Lee Campbell of Laurenburg, NC (7-0, 3 KOs) put on a show for the crowd at the Liacouras Center. Acevedo fell to Campbell via majority decision with one judge scoring the bout 76-76, and the other two judges scoring the bout 77-75 and 78-74 in favor of Campbell. Roberto Acevedo suffered a cut under his left eye but was able to finish the fight.

Roberto said, “I know we had a good fight but could not come away with the victory. Campbell is a very strong guy and the fighting was intense. Now back to the drawing board, concentrate and train for the next step coming back stronger. I hope to be back soon with the help of God.”

In a six round light heavyweight match-up Cuban-born Sullivan Barrera (11-0, 6 KOs) remained undefeated as he overcame Washington, DC native Larry Pryor (7-8, 4 KOs) via unanimous decision with all three judges scoring the fight 60-53. Barrera dominated the entire exchange and knocked down Pryor in the fifth round. Barrera said, “I feel good. I am very happy. 11 wins is good. It’s perfect. I am so happy.”

Edner Cherry (32-6-2, 17 KOs) did not disappoint in his much-anticipated return to the ring after a year-long layoff. The 32 year old Cherry defeated his opponent by UD in the first fight of the evening, an eight round super featherweight match-up with Robert Osiobe (14-9-4, 6 KOs) of Ughelli, Nigeria. The officials scored the fight 77-75, 79-73 and 78-74 all in favor of the veteran Cherry.

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