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Boxing News: Cunningham Training With Byrd, Limond-Earl, Johnny Tapia

IBF Cruiserweight champion Steve “USS” Cunningham isn’t sitting around waiting for his next fight. The champ is currently in Las Vegas helping former IBF Heavyweight champion Chris Byrd prepare for his maiden voyage into the Light-Heavyweight ranks when Byrd takes on Shaun George May 16th in Las Vegas. Cunningham, 21-1 with eleven knockouts is in camp with Byrd for the fourth time and familiarity seems to bring success for the two fighters.

“It’s a great situation for me to be able to come out here and work with one of the craftiest and best boxers of the past decade.” said the currant Cruiserweight champ, “I think because we have similar lifestyle for which we have a strong belief in Jesus and we are devoted family men helped build a great friendship. Because of the friendship, I think we bring the best out of each other and want to push each other to make ourselves the best we can be.“

When asked about working with Cunningham, Byrd, 40-4-1 with twenty-one knockouts, said “Every time we work together, even for me who has been around the block, it’s a learning experience. Even more so now that I am a light-Heavyweight because of his speed and power. I can’t get away with anything with him. It’s very equal competition. He is the best cruiserweight in the world Bar None.”

“Because of out similar mentalities we are on the same page.”

Byrd and George will fight at The Cox Pavilion and the fight will be televised on ESPN-2

Limond v Earl On June 14

Willie Limond will make the first defence of his IBO Intercontinental lightweight title against Luton’s Graham Earl at Glasgow’s Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre on Saturday June 14. Limond captured the belt after a hard-fought 12-round battle with Coatbridge’s Martin Watson at the SECC in March and the 29-year-old joiner from Gartharmlock is delighted to be making a quick return to the ring..

The Watson bout was Limond’s first since losing his Commonwealth crown to Amir Khan eight months previously, and even that eight round defeat followed an eight month interlude.

Limond said: “I’m happy to stay active. I had a few weeks off after my fight with Watson, but I’m now back to full training in the gym and glad to be boxing on a regular basis.

“It’s a privilege to be topping the bill at the SECC again. Braveheart Promotions put on a great show last time and the atmosphere was electric. I’m hoping that I’ll put on another good show for the fans as part of a good night’s entertainment.”

Earl was vanquished by Limond’s old foe Khan in the first round of his last fight, leaving question marks as to whether the 29-year-old Lutonian should hang up his gloves.

However, Limond believes he will encounter a different Earl compared to the version that was spared further punishment by referee Howard Foster after only 72 seconds following a sustained onslaught from Khan back in December.

Limond said: “I think Earl is a good boxer. It seemed that he got caught cold when he fought Khan, and I certainly won’t be reading too much into that result. I’m training for the Graham Earl that fought and beat the likes of Steve Murray, Bobby Vanzie and Yuri Romanov.”

Earl insists that his stoppage loss to Khan was premature and that he should have been allowed to continue.

He said: “The fight shouldn’t have been stopped. Khan jumped on me, which I didn’t expect, but I wasn’t hurt. I’ve only ever been hurt five times in my career and I could tell you who the five guys are that hurt me, but I can assure you that Khan isn’t one of them.

“I tried to throw a punch back, but I slid down the ropes and that’s when the referee intervened. Fair play to Khan, he jumped on me and got the win.”

Former WBU, British and Commonwealth champion Earl added: “Ideally I wouldn’t have picked this fight because I consider Willie to be a friend in the boxing world, but for me it is a way back into the title mix and for Willie it is a way to move forward.

“We will still be friends after the fight because it is just business. Willie is a very good technical fighter. He has speed, power and at his last fight I could hear his shots from outside the ring.

“Having said that, I’m coming to Glasgow to win the IBO Intercontinental title and that will be my first step on the road to a world title shot. I still believe I will win a world title.”

Johnny Tapia Returns Friday

Former five-time world champion Johnny Tapia of Albuquerque, N.M., launches what he vows will be his final—and a successful—comeback when he fights veteran Pedro Rincon Friday, May 2, in El Paso, Texas. “I’m returning to win a title at 122 pounds,” said Tapia. “I’ve won belts at 115, 118 and 126, but not at 122..”

The 10-round bout against Rincon will be the first for Tapia in 14 months and only his second during the past 31 1/2 months.

Tapia has never fought for a 122-pound title, moving directly from bantamweight to featherweight between 2000 and 2002.

Tapia attempted to earn a shot at a 122-pound title during 2005. He won his first two bouts then was upset.

“I don’t like what happened; I didn’t like the way that ended,” said Tapia. “I had to try one more time. I know I still have big things ahead of me.”

Because he’s 41-year-old, Tapia, who has a record of 56-5-2 with 28 knockouts, knows he can’t dawdle nor duck tough competition when it comes to moving toward that title shot.

“Rincon is tough, but it doesn’t really matter,” said Tapia, who is the former International Boxing Federation featherweight, World Boxing Organization bantamweight, World Boxing Association bantamweight, IBF junior bantamweight and WBO junior bantamweight champion. “I have to keep busy and keep winning if I want to get that last title.”

The hard-hitting 33-year-old Rincon, originally from Colombia and now living in Miami, Fla., has a record of 30-14-2 with 25 knockouts and has a win over former WBA flyweight and IBF junior flyweight champion Mauricio Pastrana.

Five other bouts will be on the card promoted by Browning Boxing and sponsored by Viva Environmental.

The eight-round semi-main event matches heavyweight Arron Lyons of Gulfport, Miss., (8-2, 6 KOs) against southpaw Lovy Page of Dallas (15-8, 12 KOs).

The undercard includes undefeated, left-handed middleweight Austin Trout of Las Cruces, N.M., (13-0, 10 KOs) against Mikel Williams of Monroe, La., (8-21-4, 3 KOs) in a six-round bout; unbeaten heavyweight Alfred “Little Bum” Happy of Lovelock, Nev., (4-0, 3 KOs) against Michael Hamilton of Tyler, Texas, (2-3-1, 1 KO) in a four-round fight; and a four-round women’s contest featuring Jennifer Han of El Paso (pro debut) against Liakisha Harris of Monroe (0-1). The fourth preliminary bout will be announced.

The card will be held in the El Paso County Coliseum starting at 8 p.m. (Mountain). Doors open at 7:30.

Tickets, priced at $20, $40 and $60, are available at the El Paso County Coliseum from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays or by calling 915-533-9899 during those hours and through all Ticketmaster outlets.

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