In 2010, Steve Cunningham became the IBF cruiserweight champion for the second time. His lone fight of the year was a title-winning effort against Troy Ross. Cunningham, the ultimate road warrior regained his title in Germany. It was his fifth major fight abroad.

Cunningham has had an excellent run inside the ring. With his win over Ross, his record improved to 23-2 (12 KO). The tough part for Steve has been landing fights. Granted the cruiserweight division is the foster child of boxing, but how this talented and marketable American fighter has trouble getting into the ring is confounding. He was supposed to face another fighter a couple of months before for the same vacant title, but that fight fell through at the eleventh hour. Cunningham has made his mark in boxing by being dedicated, and grounded, and faithful. As usual, Cunningham managed to stay focused and continued to wait for his opportunity.

On June 5, 2010, that chance finally materialized. Cunningham was matched  with 24-1 (16 KO) Canadian Troy Ross for the IBF's vacant championship. The fight was held in Neubrandenburg, Germany and it was a memorable bout.

Over the first three rounds, the two boxed evenly. Then in round four all hell broke loose. With Cunningham pulling out into the lead, Ross landed a powerful right hand counter punch that dropped Cunningham. Steve bounced right up and waded back into the sudden war. Like a champion, he tore into his opponent to again gain the edge. Near the end of the round, Cunningham cut Ross badly on the lower eyelid. The round ended, and the doctor would not allow Ross to continue for round five. The fight was over and Cunningham was champion once again.

The victory brought Steve his second world title, making him one of only 29 men who can claim to be world champions from Philadelphia. And Cunningham has done it twice.

Steve Cunningham is a credit to boxing, in and out of the ring. He is patient and professional - always prepared, always looking forward, and always doing his best.

In 2010, Cunningham won a world title against a world-class foe. It doesn't get better than that. There were other worthy Philly fighters in 2010 - it was an excellent year for our boxers. But from the historical perspective, 2010 was Cunningham's year. His victory and accomplishment will be remembered for years to come. Winning his second world title has shaped Philly Boxing History.

Added to this accomplishment, is the fact that by winning this year's Briscoe Award as "2010 Philly Fighter of the Year", Cunningham becomes the first person to repeat as a Briscoe Award winner. Steve Cunningham was our first "Fighter of the Year (in 2007), and now he is also our fourth.

Steve Cunningham will be presented with his Briscoe Award on October 10, 2011 at the Veteran Boxers Association Club in Philadelphia. (PHOTOS)__________________________________________________________________

The other nominees for 2010 Philly Fighter of the Year:
 
1)  Derek Ennis (junior middleweight)
2)  Danny Garcia (junior welterweight)
3)  Mike Jones (welterweight)

 

       
                 
       


On July 30, 2010, the South Philly Arena was the site of the Philly Fight of the Year. All three previous awards in this category took place at the Blue Horizon, but for the first time, this South Philly fight club produced the match and the event of the year. The fight was a terrific contest, dubbed the "All Philly War", and it was a throwback to the good old days when the best Philadelphia boxers took pride in facing each other for local bragging rights and a chance to move ahead in the world rankings. The current local scene is more civilized than those great old days, with boxers less enthusiastic about fighting their ring neighbors. Of course it still happens, but not very often at the highest level like this. But for one night, July 30, 2010, Philadelphia's two best junior middleweights and the City's best promoter collaborated on an event that was destined to become memorable, at the very least. To the delight of local boxing fans, everything fell into place for this one, and the match turned out to be the fight of the year. For that one night, it was as if we all crowded into a time machine and travelled back to the Spectrum circa 1978. Even the poster and program were designed in a vintage style.

The moment the fight was announced fans buzzed about its possibilities. It would be a fight between the two best 154-pounders in Philadelphia, the USBA title would be on the line, and the winner was likely to wind up with a top 10 world ranking by the IBF.

Derek "Pooh" Ennis, 21-2-1 (13 KO), was the reigning USBA champion, and well known around town as one of the best boxers on the scene. His record was solid and his recent activity showed a maturity and a development that indicated he was ready to move onto the next level.

Gabriel Rosado, 14-4 (8 KO), was the challenger. His record was dotted with over-achieving performances and hints that he was a fighter ready to seize the spotlight.

Style wise the match was perfect. Ennis was a boxer with excellent skills, poised to exploit Rosado's defensive deficiencies and with enough experience to keep the dangerous young fighter contained. Rosado was a well-conditioned puncher with enough power and pressure to become the third man to score a KO over Ennis.

Ennis' weaknesses played right into Rosado's strengths, and Rosado's weaknesses did the same for Ennis' strengths. Time to fight.

The 12-round fight was a delight to watch. Rosado brushed off a reputation as a slow starter and jumped out to take an early lead. In the first three rounds, it looked like Rosado's power and aggressiveness would win out. Rosado rocked the champion a couple of times, but Ennis showed his toughness and weathered the storm.

Beginning in round four.  Derek Ennis came to life and brought out his bag of skills. He jabbed, picked his shots, and began piling up points against Rosado, who tried hard to  get back on track. But ring generalship by Ennis was taking over the fight. Derek fought smartly and avoided Rosado's bombs.

Ennis was winning the fight, but the action was torrid with Rosado seemingly able to turn events with a single punch.

Derek continued his run into the later rounds, but Rosado bit down and stepped it up for the final act of the drama. Late in the fight, Rosado roared back and fought with the intensity he had at the beginning. Rosado landed and hurt Ennis and once again appeared to be one punch away from victory. But Ennis would not have it.

In the twelfth and final round, with Rosado back in control of the fight, Ennis unleashed a lightning bolt that rocked the sturdy challenger. Rosado wobbled back to the ropes and Ennis followed, looking for the kill.

But Rosado wasn't going anywhere. He regained his composure and fired back. Then the two blasted away at each other until the final bell. It was glorious.

The official decision was a close majority decision for Derek Ennis. He retained his title with skill, guts and intelligence. Rosado made the fight a thriller with his hard punches, forward motion and go-for-the-title rally.

It was a great fight and a great night. The crowd was large and evenly spilt between the two boxers. Everyone in attendance knew that this one was special and we were all happy to be a part of it. They don't make them like this anymore, but hopefully someday these two will fight again.

The fight was promoted by Peltz Boxing Promotions.

Derek Ennis and Gabriel Rosado will be presented with Briscoe Awards on October 10, 2011 at the Veteran Boxers Association Club in Philadelphia.  (PHOTOS)__________________________________________________________________

The other nominees for 2010 Philly Fight of the Year:
 
1)  Victor Vasquez TKO6 Gustavo Dailey I,  January 15, 2010 at the South Philly Arena, promoted by Power Productions (Greg Robinson).

2)  Derek Ennis W10 Jose Gonzalez, April 02, 2010 at the Blue Horizon, promoted by Blue Horizon Boxing Promotions (Vernoca Michael).

3)  Victor Vasquez D8 Paul Fernandez, April 30, 2010 at the South Philly Arena, promoted by KEA Boxing Promotions (Andre Kut).

 

       
                 
       

On December 11, 2010, Philly road warrior Dhafir "No Fear" Smith traveled to St. Petersburg, Florida to take on former world champion and heavy betting favorite Jeff "Left Hook" Lacy in a 12-round bout for the fringe UBO super middleweight title in the former champ's back yard.

No one thought Smith had a chance in the bout, but his career has been based on taking his chances in fights he's not supposed to win. So Smith went to Florida and took his shot. A far better fighter than his journeyman 28-19-7 (4 KO) record assumes, Dhafir surprised Lacy and pulled an absolute shocker. Smith's performance was so one-sided that they couldn't even rob him with a "hometown decision".

The victory was a true upset and deserved special recognition. Thus Dhafir Smith was given the Briscoe Award for the 2010 Philly Upset of the Year.

Usually the Briscoe Award is only given in two categories (Fight and Fighter). However, at times a special Briscoe will be awarded for a major accomplishment. Smith's upset of Jeff Lacy was one such accomplishment.

Dhafir Smith was presented with his Briscoe Award on October 10, 2011 at the Veteran Boxers Association Club in Philadelphia.  (PHOTOS)

 

       
                 
       

2009 WINNERS (Year #3)

       
       

2008 WINNERS (Year #2)

       
       

2007 WINNERS (Year #1)