Fury recovers from knock down in second round to knock out Cunningham in New York and set up IBF eliminator bout
Tyson Fury recovered from a second round knockdown to knock out Steve Cunningham in the seventh round of their heavyweight clash at Madison Square Garden Theatre.
It was only the second time in the Briton's career he had had to pick himself up off the canvas, but he recovered strongly to go 21-0 and set up a final eliminator against Kubrat Pulev - with the winner of that contest to face Wladimir Klitschko.
This fight was billed as Fury's toughest test with Cunningham a two-time world champion at cruiserweight, with eight world title fights behind him.
After party: Tyson Fury with his wife Paris after his win over Steve Cunningham in New York last night
Recovery: Tyson Fury recovered from a knockdown in the second round to beat Steve Cunningham by knockout in the seventh
And it all looked to be a step too far after an uppercut put him on the canvas in the second before his own uppercut followed by a sickening right hook two minutes, 55 seconds into the seventh round ended the contest.
Fury had a considerable seven-inch height advantage and used that to full effect early on as the American struggled to get close in the opening round, although Fury's lack of discipline showed as he pushed Cunningham after the bell, with the referee issuing a warning.
Seconds into the second and the Manchester fighter was put on the ground for just the second time in his career.
Jumping for joy: Tyson Fury celebrates knocking out Steve Cunningham in the IBF Heavyweight eliminator in New York
Cunningham caught Fury with a swinging right hand over the top which although failed to make full contact was enough to put the Briton on the floor.
Fury dusted away the cobwebs and straight jabs kept his opponent at bay, but in the third Cunningham had better success inside, while a blow in the fourth had Fury again in trouble.
Fury's antics were starting to annoy the referee and he took a point off the 24-year-old for going in with his head in the fifth.
Huge punch: Tyson Fury (left) was knocked down in the second round after a huge right hand from Steve Cunningham
A right uppercut put Cunningham under pressure as Fury began to assert his authority on the contest.
In the seventh a bodyshot and an uppercut clearly had the 36-year-old in trouble before a right hook landed plumb on Cunningham's chin and the American had no chance of beating the count.
It was the first time in the American's career that he had been stopped and Fury was keen to praise his opponents before turning the attention to his own performance.
To the mat: Fury sends Cunningham to the floor
'It's one of those things, you can't go swimming and not get wet he put on a good fight,' Fury said.
'I got caught with a big swinging right. You have to get up, this is a learning experience.
'That was a good hook to the side of the jaw, it was a matter of time until I got hold of him and when I caught him it was curtains.'
Rarely lacking in confidence, Fury proceeded to sing for the audience and although he proved he can mix it with international class fighters, the blow which put him on the floor shows there is plenty of improving left to do if he is to seriously challenge a Klitschko.
One more: Fury must beat Kubrat Pulev to set up a world title shot against Wladimir Klitschko
Tyson Fury wins U.S. debut with knockout of Steve Cunningham
NEW YORK -- Tyson Fury stopped Steve Cunningham with a right hook 5 seconds before the end of the seventh round of their heavyweight bout on Friday to win his United States debut.
Despite a second-round knockdown, Tyson Fury improved to 21-0 by beating Steve Cunningham.
"I was just hunting him down like a deer," Fury said. "I think it was a good performance."
It was the 15th knockout for the Briton, who is 21-0. Cunningham fell to 25-6.
Billed an IBF voluntary eliminator fight, the matinee card at the Theatre at Madison Square Garden was an attempt to showcase Fury to American boxing fans. The bout aired on NBC Sports Network.
Nineteen of Fury's first 20 fights occurred in the United Kingdom. His only other North American fight was an eight-round defeat of Zack Page at Quebec City's Pepsi Coliseum on Dec. 18, 2010.
Fury taunted his American opponent by dropping his hands, exposing his chin and shouting "come on" during the first round. Fury's disdain cost him when he was dropped 18 seconds into the second round with a right hook to the chin. Following the knockdown, Fury began attempting to tie up Cunningham in the ropes.
Of Fury's first 20 fights, 19 happened in the United Kingdom. His only other North American fight was an eight-round defeat of Zack Page at Quebec City on Dec. 18, 2010.
The American showcase nearly turned into a disaster for Fury, who was dropped 18 seconds into the second round with a right hook to the chin. Fury had taunted Cunningham by dropping his hands, exposing his chin and shouting "come on," during the first round.
"I didn't come here to play any games although I did," Fury said. "He got me with one."
Following the knockdown, Fury spent the remainder of the round along with the third and fourth rounds attempting to tie up Cunningham in the ropes.
After being deducted a point for a head butt in the fifth round, Fury began to surge. He started to use his length and reach to keep Cunningham on the outside while landing power punches, culminated by the knockout punch.
"I turned it into a dogfight," Fury said. "I was expecting to put on a good boxing performance. That was a perfect example. You have to get on with your business and fight on."
Cunningham fell to 25-6. The former IBF Cruiserweight Champion said he has no interest in dropping back down to that weight class.
"I got to talk with my team and see what's going on," Cunningham said. "I feel like I performed."
The Fury-Cunningham bout was the main event of a six-fight card.
Curtis Stevens won an eight round unanimous decision over Derrick Findley in the semi-main event. Stevens improved to 24-4. Findley dropped to 20-10. Judges Robin Taylor and John McKaie ruled in favor of Stevens, 78-74, while judge Don Trella gave the NABF Middleweight Champion a 79-73 ruling.
"I knew I was winning the fight clean," Stevens said.
Stevens took control in the fourth in which he staggered Findley with a hook to the chin and repeated body shots. The two middleweights spent the majority of the bout trading blows, although the furious pace they set began to take its toll on the fighters in the fifth round as Stevens and Findley engaged in clinches following exchanges.
"It felt great to go eight rounds," Stevens said." It was excellent for me to get in rounds. It was great for me."
Calbert Lewis fell to 0-3 after being knocked out by Adam Kownacki (5-00 1:43 into the second round of their heavyweight fight. Hughie Fury, Tyson's younger cousin, moved to 2-0 with a first round TKO of Alex Rozman (1-1). Edward Valdez (12-10-2) could not come out of the corner for the third round of his lightweight fight against Karl Dargan (13-0) with what was announced as "an injured hand." Josh Harris improved to 9-6-1 with a fifth round TKO of Albanian Sevdail Sherifi (9-2-2).