By Lem Satterfield

Steve Cunningham – Boxing Champion and Comic Book Hero

Steve Cunningham sees a lot of parallels between the world of boxing and the world of comic books. Sometimes the matches devolve into a good guy against a bad guy. Sometimes there are heroes and villains. And in most fights there are winners and losers that come at the end of an epic battle.

Cunningham, a U.S. Navy veteran, has decided to combine his experiences and the characters that he has encountered in boxing with his talents as an illustrator and storyteller to come up with a series of comic books, starring him as the main super hero, entitled “USS Comics”. 

When Cunningham meets Krzysztof Glowacki for the WBO cruiserweight championship at Barclays Center on NBC on April 16, he will give out examples of his work. It is the kind of battle that would make for a good story line for one of his comic books. Cunningham, a former cruiserweight champion, is returning to the division after four years of campaigning at heavyweight.

Drawing illustrations comes as naturally to Cunningham as throwing combinations. He has always liked art.

“When I was a kid, my older brother, Jermaine, was an artist, so you try to do what your older brother does,’’ Cunningham said. “My mom, Jackie, was also an artist, and with that being in the family, I was an observant little guy who tried to imitate. I drew Transformers, G.I. Joe’s, cartoons and superheroes and when high school came along, I was an art major. I had it for four periods after lunch. My initial idea was to graduate high school and go to an art college for graphic design because I was so much into drawing."

KhurtsidzeKhytrov and Derevyanchenko sharpen each other

The intensity between Avtandil Khurtsidze, Ievgen Khytrovand Sergiy Derevyanchenko when they sparred against each other created awe in their trainer, Gary Stark Sr.

“It’s an incredible thing to watch because they all have about the same amount of power, but their styles are a little bit different from one another,” said Starks, who co-trains the trio with Andre Rozier at the New York Fitness Club in Brooklyn, New York.

“Sergiy’s more of a technician, taking his time, studying you and breaking you down. Khytrov’s more of a relentless come and get you type of guy, and Avtandil, that little guy, he can punch with force and gets rougher in there. They respect each other, but the skills that are on display make it great to watch.”

Those intense workouts against each other paid off for Khurtsidze (32-2-2, 21 KOs) and Khytrov (13-0, 11 KOs) in their middleweight bouts on March 5 at The Sands Casino in Bethelehem, Pa. The 5-4 Khurtsidze scored third and seventh-round knockdowns on the way to a 10th-round stoppage of previously unbeaten 6-foot Antoine Douglas, and Khytrov ground out a unanimous decision over Kenneth McNeil.

Now it’s time to see if it works for Derevyanchenko (7-0, 5 KOs). The Ukrainian super middleweight will take on Mike Guy (8-1-1, 4 KOs) at Robinson Rancheria Resort & Casino in Nice, California on TOE-TO-TOE TUESDAYS on FS1 (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).  Derevyanchenko-Guy is scheduled for the undercard of a welterweight clash between Sergey Lipinets (8-0, 6 KOs) and Levan Ghvamichava (16-1-1, 12 KOs).

“I definitely see three in a row because Sergiy’s on another level from the guy he’s gonna be fighting,” Starks said. “I just think Sergiy’s going to break him up and break him apart, and that’s how Sergiy’s stoppages come.” 

 Selby Eyes a Featherweight Feast

Fans will get a back-to-back look at featherweight champions Lee Selby of Wales, and southpaw Gary Russell Jr., of Washington, D.C., in defense of their belts on April 9 and April 16, respectively, on Showtime during a year Russell has called “our season of harvest” for the 126-pound division.

The 29-year-old Selby (22-1, 8 KOs) will make the second defense of his IBF title against mandatory challenger Eric Hunter (21-3, 11 KOs) at the O2 Arena in London. Two weeks later, the 27-year-old Russell (26-1, 15 KOs) will put his WBC championship on the line against Patrick Hyland (31-1, 15 KOs) at Foxwoods Resort in Mashantucket, Connecticut.

Another featherweight title clash is slated for June 25 at a site to be determined as three-division title winner Abner Mares 29-2-1, 15 KOs) challenges Jesus Cuellar (28-1, 21 KOs) of Argentina as the co-feature to a welterweight championship showdown between Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter on CBS.

Selby has been keeping a close eye on all the featherweight comings and goings because he believes he will be the man who reaps the greatest bounty at the end of “the season of harvest.’’ He was impressed by Leo Santa Cruz, who beat Kiko Martinez two weeks ago, and Russell and can see himself against them in the future.

“My style is a bit similar to Santa Cruz in that I can do both: I can mix it with anyone as I have proven, but I can also box as well. I’d like to think our styles are made for each other.  I’d fight Santa Cruz either in Britain or the US. I’d have no problem facing him in America. He is the biggest draw in the division and so I would have no complaints if he said it had to be in America,” said Selby. 


“I rate Gary Russell very highly and I like to watch him fight. He is a cracking boxer to watch. I don’t think he has got a big enough name in Britain, but that will change because he keeps winning.  I can see us fighting each other in the future as he is my kind of boxer. I wouldn’t care where we fought, but I think my style is made to beat him. “


Lem Satterfield is a writer for Premier Boxing Champions. Re-use of any or all of this material must contain proper attribution that reflects that.