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.
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).