Cunningham vs Mansour: Fighters ready for heavyweight crossroads clash

USA TODAY Sports

Steve Cunningham and Amir Mansour need to win on Friday night, and are ready for their Philadelphia showdown.

Steve Cunningham and Amir Mansour headline this Friday night on NBC Sports Network from Philadelphia, with both heavyweights in a must-win situation if they hope to land a world title shot in the near future.

Cunningham, 37, is going to have home field advantage in Philly, but he remembers when he wasn't even a known fighter in his own city. This will be his first fight in Philadelphia since 2003.

"The last time I fought in Philadelphia, Philly didn't know me," he said. "I learned to fight in the Navy so I didn't have a following at home. I am grateful to NBC for putting me on with the Adamek fight and the Fury fight and allowing me to do the 'In the Ring' with B.J. [Flores]. They really helped me develop a fan base."

Cunningham (26-6, 12 KO) is 2-2 as a heavyweight, beating Jason Gavern and Manuel Quezada, with a controversial loss to Tomasz Adamek and another loss to Tyson Fury in a fight where Cunningham's lack of size hurt him. The 41-year-old Mansour won't have the sort of size advantage that Fury did, but Mansour is an extremely hungry fighter looking to make his move. He's also defending his USBA heavyweight title, a minor trinket to most of us, but something he fought hard to win.

"I won this title with the flu, dehydrated and sick," Mansour said. "I really hurt myself winning this title and I am prepared to defend it. I am not willing to let anyone take it from me. This is my time. I am prepared to die before I lose in this ring. That is my mentality. Before I lose take me out on a stretcher."

Main Events CEO Kathy Duva says this is the exact type of fight she and her team have strived to make for their "Fight Night" series.

"We are thrilled to bring the Philadelphia fans this exciting all-Philly matchup," Duva said. "We strive to make interesting and competitive crossroads fights on Fight Night and this one just delivers in every way imaginable."

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