"Me and Steve Cunningham gonna get it on April 4th at the Liacouras Center at Temple University, man, and of course you know I'm hyped and excited for this next fight. Each fight I have stepped it up in the competition. Nobody can say I'm ducking this one or ducking that one. Steve Cunningham is definitely a fighter that ain't none of these up-and-coming heavyweights trying to see at all," stated undefeated heavyweight contender Amir Mansour, who announced his upcoming April 4 clash with former cruiserweight champion turned heavyweight Steve Cunningham. Check out what else he had to say about the fight and much more!
PC: You have a date, venue, and opponent for your next fight. Tell us about it my man!
AM: Me and Steve Cunningham gonna get it on April 4th at the Liacouras Center at Temple University, man, and of course you know I'm hyped and excited for this next fight. Each fight I have stepped it up in the competition. Nobody can say I'm ducking this one or ducking that one. Steve Cunningham is definitely a fighter that ain't none of these up-and-coming heavyweights trying to see at all.
PC: I saw Steve and Naazim and their crew at your last fight cheering you on. Was this simply a business fight that made all the sense in the world?
AM: Man, it's obviously just business, especially for him. When they called me and told me I was fighting Steve, I was in utter disbelief because we ain't from the same camp, but he knows I have a lot of respect for him as a fighter. He is one of my favorite fighters and Steve gave me an opportunity that no world champion has ever gave me, and that opportunity was, when I came home from prison, the first person I got in the ring with was Steve Cunningham. He was defending his title against a southpaw and he was victorious. The work that I gave him and he gave me, I don't think that he's looking at that, and I'm definitely not looking at it. Like I said, he was the first person that I had sparred in 8 1/2 years. Of course I held my own though, but I always respected him to the fullest and I still do, but at the end of the day, of course this is just business and it's an opportunity for both of us to continue on our course towards the heavyweight title of the world.
PC: Coming off of your last couple of fights, it has to be comforting to know you are fighting someone who is also perceived as a small heavyweight as well. I feel you will be able to show more of your arsenal.
AM: Oh yeah, for sure. My last 2 opponents, man, they had so much height and reach advantages over me, it was very difficult to do a lot of the things that I wanted to do. Steve is not that much taller than me and he's not bigger than me, so it's gonna be an exciting fight for me. I know he's fast and very talented, so this is going to be very exciting and a great opportunity for me to finally be able to showcase the skills that I have always said that I have and to be able to mix it up with a former world champion. It's really a blessing to be on this position considering the road that I took to get here.
PC: What network is carrying this fight, Amir?
AM: NBC Sports, man! NBC is giving boxers a new opportunity to be on TV and an opportunity to really get our faces out there. More people are watching NBC Sports than they are some of the other networks that carry boxing, unless it's a huge fight like Mayweather and those guys. It's a great opportunity to get my name out there and a great opportunity to finally go up against somebody that has been tested and somebody that already has a name in this sport as a world champion. It definitely gives me one of the best opportunities that any opponent has given me before.
PC: Both of your guys are in that Tri-State area. Do you feel the need to possibly move your camp so things that you have going on don't get back, or are you not even thinking along those lines because I'm sure people talk?
AM: No, I'm not considering that. He's fought so many times, there is nothing new I'm gonna expect from him in terms of boxing. I just have too much tape on him and the tape he has on me is very little, and then the exclusive tapes he has on me are against two guys with so much height and reach over me that it's really gonna be hard for him to look at those fights and say, "I'm gonna do this or do that," because he doesn't possess those advantages for one, and for two, I'm gonna do everything different for this guy.
PC: We will get a ton with you leading up to April 4th. I appreciate you giving me the first word and I always knew fights like this would be on the horizon for you, so congratulations. Give me some closing thoughts my man.
AM: This is a breakout year for me. I've been telling everybody in 2013 that you were gonna see some big things out of me and coming out of Amir Mansour's camp in 2014. This is my first fight of 2014. I'm not no internet gangsta or Twitter gangsta; my talk is real. I walk the talk and I talk the talk and I do everything that I say I'm gonna do. I duck no one. They came to me and told me who I was fighting because they already had the green light to get anybody that's in the top 10 in any organization or rankings. I'm willing to fight anybody ranked in the top 10, so they didn't bother coming to me seeing if Steve Cunningham was okay or if I approved of him or whatever. They just called me and said, "This is the guy. He accepted the fight. What you wanna do?" And I said, "Let's go green light it." So I'm excited to finally get back into the ring and really go up against a guy with a good record and a good reputation. And I'm telling you now I'm training for this fight like I'm 'bout to fight a 7-foot, 265-pound Evander Holyfield in his prime. That's what I'm training for. I'm training to fight somebody with speed, I'm training to fight somebody with power, and I'm coming into this fight stronger and faster. I'm training for this fight like there is no tomorrow. Like I always say, I don't care who it is in front of me, I won't be denied. I'm excited and I'm looking forward to April 4th. And I wanna thank you, man, for always being there for me. You know I'm gonna keep it 100 with my fight news on FightHype, man. At the end of the day, it's all a blessing. My hat goes off to Steve for accepting the fight. That shows great courage on his behalf and I'm just ready to get it on, man, and finally get a chance to display some real talent in this sport where people gonna say, "You know what? This is really a future world champion and we need to get behind this guy."
[ Follow Percy Crawford on Twitter @MrFighthype ]