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Steve Cunningham Vs. Troy Ross Fight Preview and Prediction

When: Saturday, June 5, 2010
Where: Jahnsportforum, Neubrandenburg, Germany
Weight Class: Vacant IBF Cruiserweight Championship

By Scotty L of Predictem.com

Steve Cunningham, 22-2 (11 KOs), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Vs. Troy Ross, 23-1 (16 KOs), Toronto, Canada.

Fight Odds: Steve Cunningham (-500), Troy Ross (+350)

Analysis: A great cruiserweight matchup takes place on June 5 as Steve Cunningham and Troy Ross battle for the vacant IBF Cruiserweight Championship. Cunningham, out of Philadelphia, has achieved a fair amount of his success in Europe. The cruiserweight division is very popular in Europe. It is where the best fighters at 200 lbs are based. The German-based Sauerland Event, a top promotional outfit, recently signed Cunningham to a deal.

Fighting in Germany is not foreign to Cunningham. His biggest win was in Germany, when he defeated Marco Huck, the current top dog in the division by knockout. Cunningham is the man with the better credentials going into this fight. He has been at the top of the division for about five years, enjoying the experience that goes with that. In addition to his win over Huck, Cunningham also holds victories over Guillermo Jones, Kelvin Davis, Krzysztof Wlodarczyk, and Wayne Braithwaite—all world champions.

Cunningham is built well at 6’3” with a massive 82” reach. He is athletic, fast, and can hurt his opponents with crisp shots. He moves well and is smart in the ring. Some forget his loss to Tomasz Adamek was by split decision. Seeing how well Adamek has fared at heavyweight, the loss now appears less shameful. It’s a little peculiar how Cunningham seemed to fall off the map after what appears to be a forgivable loss. He was in great form prior to that fight and had begun to build up a nice reputation. He has been inactive, and by the time he steps into the ring with Ross, he will have had only one fight in 18 months. He looks to zoom back into the consciousness of boxing fans on Saturday.

Ross has been much more active, winning the Contender series at cruiserweight and scoring two more victories since then. While Cunningham has been on the sidelines the Canadian puncher has been racking up victories and confidence. While there are no names on his resume to immediately suggest he can beat Cunningham, he is an active winning fighter with a fine pedigree to match. As a two-time Olympian, he is accustomed to many different styles and fighting on a large stage away from home. He is also a well-educated boxer, with the schooling and polish that comes with so much experience.

The problem with Ross is that he is so unproven at this level. Despite two Olympic appearances, winning the Contender series, and only one loss in a 9-year pro career, he has yet to establish clear world-class credentials.

Ross is still more than a capable contender. He just lacks that special something that would make him a substantial threat against Cunningham. He doesn’t have the rabid pursuit of Adamek. He will need it. With an alarming 10” deficit in reach, he will need to get inside. But before he does, he will be getting peppered by the slashing and stinging punches of Cunningham. Ross is strong and can do damage with his power shots, but will have to work very hard and absorb a lot of shots in order to get in that position.

While Cunningham is far from invulnerable, he can take a punch. Sure, Adamek put him down and had him swooning at times, but Cunningham always managed to get himself back together and be competitive. Just maybe, Ross’ southpaw power punching can cause Cunningham some problems. Ross is robust and when unloading, his punches are menacing—capable of knocking out anyone in the division. Since struggling a bit with journeyman Kendrick Releford, he has barely been challenged. He breezed through a decent lot of the Contender and he could be peaking.

Scotty L's Pick to Win: Frankly, there are a lot worse +350 picks in the world of sports betting than Troy Ross. He is a hard-hitting challenger facing a dormant fighter who depends on his sharpness to prevail. If Cunningham has suffered any adverse affects from this layoff or any resonating doubts from the Adamek fight, Ross will be a hefty proposition for him.

I predict Cunningham will be “up” for this fight, looking to re-establish himself as a top dog at cruiserweight and make a big splash in his debut fighting under a new promotional banner. Ross will be earnest and rugged, but the greater speed, ring generalship, and experience of Cunningham will win the day. He will use his gigantic reach advantage to score points at will, while staying completely out of Ross’ wheelhouse. I see Cunningham putting on a bit of a clinic against a dead game, but outgunned opponent over 12 rounds. Lay the –500 on Steve Cunningham to win.

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