|PHILLY BOXING HISTORY - March 14, 2015
For the better part of twelve rounds, Steve Cunningham out-boxed Vyacheslav Glazkov Saturday night at the Bell Centre in Montreal. He started fast, built a substantial points lead and withstood Glazkov's desperate late rally to turn the fight around. Although Cunningham appeared to fade a bit at the end, after the full twelve, there was no question that he had done plenty to win the fight, earn a mandatory shot heavyweight champ Wladimir Klitschko, and bring home what he had called the biggest bout of his career.
However, things rarely play out as expected in the career of Steve Cunningham. When Michael Buffer read the official scores, it was like deja vu all over again for the hard-luck heavyweight from West Philly.
The tallies themselves appeared correct - 116-112, 116-112 and 115-113 - but when Buffer finished his announcement with the phrase, "...for the winner and STILL undefeated, Vyacheslav 'Czar' Glazkov!!", his words were as harsh as a blaring alarm clock early on a Monday morning.
That's right folks, Cunningham had been robbed yet again. The perpetrators of record this time were official judges Sylvain LeBlanc, Alex Levin and Pasquale Procopio.
At face value, this wasn't even the biggest robbery that Cunningham has suffered in his 14-year pro run. The worst offense had to be his controversial rematch with Adamek in 2012. But this theft - before the world on HBO and with a lucrative world title crack going to the winner - was a felony that came at the worst possible time for the nearly 39-year old Cunningham.
This finally was supposed to be Steve's chance to make a move at heavyweight. Dues paid, do or die, this was it - the oft-slighted good soldier at last had an opportunity to squeeze onto Klitschko's jam-packed dance card before it was too late. If fighting Glazkov was Cunningham's last hurrah, logic says he may not have the time for the next chance to come around.
After the result was read, Cunningham's reaction put into perspective the whole story of his troubled boxing career. His response to the outrageous verdict wasn't the wide-eyed, open-mouthed shock he showed after that second Adamek fight. It wasn't the "did-I-hear-that-right?" furrowed eyebrows from his first bout with Wlodarczyk. Nor was it the angry head-shaking that came after his first meeting with Hernandez. No, this time Cunningham's reaction was very different.
When Buffer told this latest tale of larceny, Cunningham merely flinched. If you weren't looking closely, you may have even missed it. Cunningham's flinch was like the reaction you give when you get a needle at the doctor's office. Yes it hurt, but no worse than you had expected.
Cunningham has been robbed so many times at such crucial junctures he may not even be able to feel the trauma anymore. After his flinch, Steve's face was totally blank. No expression. It was almost as if he expected it all to happen this way.
It's a sad state of affairs when a fighter - and his fans - start to rely on the worst case scenario as the norm. As the fight got closer down the stretch, thoughts of conspiracy and bad decisions inevitably crept in to the minds of every Cunningham fan watching.
Cunningham won this fight and deserved better, but once again it was taken from him. So there was no celebration after the fight. There was no dreaming of that overdue would-be payday for fighting the champ. And to add insult to injury, Cunningham was even mugged of his USBA title belt, so valiantly earned last year against Mansour.
Despite the many accomplishments he's had, the majority of Cunningham's career has played out like a gloved version of the Book of Job.
I can't imagine where he goes from here.
"I ain't going nowhere," Cunningham said the morning after the fight. "I'm still here, but I am sick of being that guy that gets robbed. I felt I handled my business in that fight. I just don't understand how you can out-punch a guy, out-power-punch a guy, and not win the fight. These judges have to be held accountable. Somehow we have to do something."
Cunningham continued, "You saw what you saw. I did what I did, and the judges did what they did. It is what it is. We're still faithful. God has a plan. Let God's will be done. If this is what happened, then he's going to bounce us back off of this."
God's plan is still a mystery. However one thing is certain, Klitschko vs. Cunningham was never in the plans of boxing's powers-that-be.