By Mike Coppinger
Steve Cunningham, regarded as the No. 1 cruiserweight in the world by The Ring, is looking for the big fights that have long eluded, and in doing called out Antonio Tarver, who made his entrance into the cruiser division with a knockout last month of Danny Green.
Much to Cunningham’s dismay though, Tarver has not stepped up to the challenge.
“He wants the big money fights, he wants money, and he feels that there’s not money in it for him to fight me,” said Cunningham. “The fight’s gonna be hard, I don’t think he thinks he wins it and he wants to get paid. We know the cruiserweights in America don’t draw money, but we should try to see how much HBO or Showtime would put up for the fight.
"I’m willing to fight and he wants to rematch Green or rematch [Bernard] Hopkins which nobody wants to see, or [Wladimir] Klitschko, which is impossible,” said the Philadelphia-based Cunningham. “
Cunningham even went so far as to offer a winner take-all match to sweeten the pot for Tarver.
“We were on Twitter back-and-forth for two weeks and he doesn’t wanna pursue it,” said Cunningham. “He’s just talking big, but he won’t put up. I even offered winner take-all, which I would do, because I’m that confident that I would beat him, but he turned that down. That was to make it attractive to him to come into the fight.
“He wants money, however much I would make, he could have had that, if he beat me, and I don’t think he believes he’ll beat me.”
For Cunningham, the fight isn’t about money, he wants to prove he’s the best against a big-name fighter. He would take short money to get Tarver in the ring.
“I’ve been taking short money all my career anyway,” said Cunningham, 35. “I’m a cruiserweight, I’m a two-time world champion, I still haven’t made a $500,000 payday. The money is secondary to just being the best. So beating him would be great for my resume. Yep, I’d take short money.”
Mike Coppinger is a regular contributor to both USA TODAY and THE RING Magazine. He is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America,THE RING Ratings Advisory Panel and the Yahoo! Sports Boxing Panel. Check out his blog: www.mikecoppinger.com , follow him on Twitter: @MikeCoppinger. Write to him: firstname.lastname@example.org.