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Fury vs Cunningham: Final presser heats up in NYC

Tyson Fury and Steve Cunningham couldn't have come off more differently if they'd scripted today's press conference, as Fury talked trash, poked, and prodded, while Cunningham remained steely-eyed.

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Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Tyson Fury was his usual animated self today at Legends in New York, where he and Steve Cunningham met up for the final press conference ahead of Saturday's big fight at The Theater at Madison Square Garden, an IBF heavyweight eliminator to be broadcast live on NBC in the United States and Channel 5 in the United Kingdom.

Fury (20-0, 14 KO) talked enough trash that he not only visibly annoyed Cunningham (25-5, 12 KO), but even the exceptionally cool-headed Naazim Richardson, Cunningham's great trainer, who had earlier in the presser expressed his respect for Fury's skills.

"This young man down the table, Mr. Fury, is an outstanding young fighter. Very big, has an exceptional reach. I have a great deal of respect for him," Richardson said. On Cunningham, he added, "Steve Cunningham is an exceptional young man. He takes on extreme challenges. This is what motivates him, and this is what makes him special. You're special when you reach out and go beyond what people think you're capable of doing."

Fury's turn at the mic was relatively calm, though he did stand up, perhaps to make clear how incredibly tall he is at 6'9", and perhaps just because he likes the extra attention.

"I'm sure you've heard it all before, training camp went well, sparring went well, so I'm not gonna bore anyone with that. I'm gonna run you through the fight: 'Fury comes out jabbing! Cunningham running 'round the ring, and boom! Spark-out!' I am in New York. The Fury will be unleashed," he stated.

"Tyson Fury is Tyson Fury," Cunningham said. "He's a good fighter. We've watched his fights. Decent fighter. Tall, agile to be that big. It's a great challenge."

Cunningham, now 36, recounted his days at cruiserweight, when he traveled to face the top fighters in the division, with next to no media coverage at home. "There wasn't any prestige behind it. Nobody knew me."

With a big opportunity to make his mark and get into the title chase at heavyweight, he says he's fully prepared for the man he'll be facing.

"I'm gonna do it now with the lights on us. NBC on us, America, the world watching. I've been motivated," he said. "People have been asking me, Pulev next? Maybe Klitschko? I don't know anything about them. For two months, it's been nothing but Tyson Fury. Eat, sleep, and breathe Tyson Fury."

The real test of the patience of Cunningham and Richardson came after the "official" comments were made, when Main Events promoter Kathy Duva was ready to do a coin toss to determine who would have the second ringwalk. Fury objected to the idea, and off he went.

"There's only one star here," Fury said, "and it's not Steve Cunningham. He's an opponent. He's a stepping stone."

As Cunningham stared forward and tried to ignore Fury's needling, the big man from Manchester continued on, saying that while Cunningham is his "brother in Christ," "God has bigger plans for me than for Steve, obviously, because he's already been defeated."

There wound up being no coin toss, as Fury said he hadn't agreed to that, and expected he'd enter second as the A-side of the fight. The staredown, as you might imagine, was pretty intense, with Fury continuing to yammer on, and Cunningham staring daggers, even though he had to look up to do it.

"For me, Tyson Fury is already the best heavyweight on the planet," promoter Mick Hennessy had said earlier. "He just needs to prove it, and he will do, in front of a huge audience."

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