Craig Cunningham goes after his hat-trick

Craig Cunningham goes after his hat-trick

Cunningham is riding the crest of a wave both personally and professionally ahead of his clash with the much-vaunted Olympian, writes Craig Birch.First the 28-year-old became a father for the second time on October 11, with his partner Natalie giving birth to a baby girl named Cara.Then Cunningham was invited to the annual British Boxing Board of Control’s Midlands awards ceremony last weekend, at the Eaton Hotel in Birmingham.The two-weight Midlands champion was nominated for Boxer of the Year, beating off competition from Commonwealth champion Tommy Langford and British titlist Kal Yafai to the gong.Fellow Brummie Cunningham, who lives in Oldbury, has no time to rest on his laurels, though, as he goes into his next battle.The year 2016 has seen Cunningham defend the area middleweight crown with a sixth round knockout of Ryan Aston and outpoint Jason Welborn to claim a Midlands strap at super welter.He was put through his paces again during a public workout at the Bullring Shopping Centre in Birmingham, part of the finishing touches to his training camp.The tough southpaw will need all of his wits about him against the London 2012 bronze medalist and unbeaten professional.They contest the WBC International middleweight title under the Matchroom banner at the Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham, with the bout set to be broadcast live on Sky Sports.Left-hander Cunningham said: “If things do come in threes, there’s been nothing but a smile on his face so far. Hopefully, that is going to continue.“Momentum can take you a long way and I’ve been on the rise, while he’s just been trying to get busy again. On Saturday, I’ve got to show him something he hasn’t seen before.“I respect his achievements, but he can’t bring them into the ring with him. May the best man win. I’m relaxed and I just can’t wait to get in there now.Back to the grind – Craig Cunningham at the Bullring in Birmingham for the public work-out today. Picture courtesy of Lawrence Lustig-Matchroom.“It’s going to be a great night of boxing and the awards evening wasn’t too bad either! It was an honour just to be nominated so, when they called my name out as the winner, I was buzzing.“Tommy and Kal are both British title level fighters, whereas I’ve been boxing at Midlands level. They were great fights and my opponents should take their fair share of respect for that.“Now I’ve got to go and do a job on Ogogo. This is my opportunity to step up a level now. I’m not going to let it pass me by without a fight.”Five other awards were dished out at the bash, with Zach Parker named Best Newcomer. Charlie Williams and Manny Zaber, from Old Hill, were also nominated.Best Young Boxer went to Commonwealth super bantamweight champion Gamal Yafai, with English boss Sean Davis also nominated.Yafai and Davis were due to meet in the ring at the Barclaycard, but the former is injured. Sam Bowen was the third choice.Tony Jones’ four-round draw with Irvin Magno won Best Fight of the Year, getting the nod over two other battles.One was a draw for the Midlands flyweight title between Usman Ahmed and Jamie Williams. They will do it again on Sunday.The other took place live on Sky Sports, with Rowley Regis’ Jason Welborn going down on points in a spirited WBC International super welterweight title fight against Matthew Macklin.Announced on the night gongs went to Paul Butlin and Matt Harris, heavyweight campaigner Butlin receiving Services to Boxing.Butlin, aged 41 and from Melton Mowbray in Lei…

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