Craig Cunningham a Frustrated Champ
In 2016 professional boxer Craig Cunningham was floating on a crease of a wave after retaining his super welterweight Midlands area title, winning the Middleweight Midlands area title and beating 20 to 1 odds by stopping unbeaten Olympic silver medalist Anthony Ogogo to become the WBC International Middleweight Champion. After this victory you would expect massive things for Craig who was also vote Midlands boxer of the year at the annual award ceremony and also voted boxer of the year by the Birmingham Boxing Column, but 2017 has been frustrating for the champ with setbacks and disappointments.
Thing did seem to start brightly for Craig in 2017 with the announcement that Cunningham would be fighting Tommy Langford for the British Title in April. This was the first disappointment for Craig as at first they just cancelled the press conference and then when his management asked about getting the tickets for the fight they were met with silence. Then they were informed the fight was off just before Langford announced that he would be fighting for a interim world title instead. Cunningham and his team were not even given a promise of a title fight In the future. This in it's self would be a bad start to the year, but then their was even more disappointment when Matchroom came to Birmingham for the Homecoming show headlined by Birmingham's World champ Kal Yafai and newly crown European champ Sam Eggington. The show was live on Sky sports and Craig had won his WBC middleweight title on the last Matchroom show that was held in Birmingham so it would only be right for Cunningham to be on this show and at least defend his title. For some reason Matchroom did not put Craig on the show, why I don't know, maybe it is because he derailed there Olympic medalist and they were punishing him for that, but I think they said the show was full. Craig kept ticking over and won a four rounder on Tommy Owens Promotions show In March.
At the start of June Tommy Langford put a statue up on social media asking the fans who they would want him to defend his British title next? There were 3 names that kept coming up Jack Arnfield, Jason Welborn and Craig Cunningham, Welborn and Cunningham were the most mentioned by the fans but Cunningham's name got the majority of the fans vote as they thought he deserved it more than the other boxers. I myself thought that this would pave the way for Craig to get his shot at the British title, but then the British Boxing Board of control notified Tommy Langford that his mandatory challenger for his title would be Jack Arnfield.
I caught up with Craig after his last fight on the Tommy Owens Promotions "Stand and Deliver" show at Villa park. He had just won a good six round fight but you could see the disappointment in his face when asked about not being on any big shows. Craig told me "These fights are hard to get up for, I just want to be In big fights now". I then said to Craig that after beating Ogogo he has been overlook, Cunningham said "Boxing can be a horrible sport, theirs a lot of politics in it, I'm gutted I haven't had my shot yet but hopefully It comes soon". I then asked Craig about how he felt when he found out Jack Arnfield had been made mandatory Challenger for the British title? Cunningham Informed me "it's disheartening, but that’s boxing, nothing we can do about it. Langford knows we want the fight he still knows now, but it's been taken out of his hands". I finished off by asking Craig what's next? I could see Craig's frustration as he told me "I don’t know you tell me? I just want big titles big shows, so I would like the British at super welter or Middle, which ever comes first".
Craig was smashing it in 2016 and I could see the buzz he had when I interviewed him after the Ogogo fight. The man retained and won 3 titles in a year, smashed the hell out of an Olympic medalist which should have set him up for bigger and better things, why Matchroom didn’t sign him up their and then is a mystery to me. Craig has been fighting on the Tommy Owens Promotions shows and I have loved watching him at the Villa, but this is not the place for this very talented Southpaw. Cunningham should be in big arenas now on televised shows being moved up the ranks and going for titles. I do hope Matchroom get him on their next big show In Birmingham on September where Craig's Stable mate Sam Eggington will be defending his European title for the first time. Hopefully he can be in a big fight on this show and get his career going in the right direction.