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Steve Cunningham Beats Frank Mir Via Decision on Jake Paul-Ben Askren Undercard

Nate Loop@Nate_LoopFeatured ColumnistApril 18, 2021

Frank Mir before fighting Daniel Cormier during a UFC heavyweight mixed martial arts fight in San Jose, Calif., Saturday, April 20, 2013. Cormier won by unanimous decision. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

Frank Mir's first professional boxing match didn't turn out like he hoped. The former UFC heavyweight champion had a chance to show off some skills on the undercard of the Jake Paul-Ben Askren fight, but it wasn't his night. Former heavyweight boxing champion Steve Cunningham used his experience and speed advantage to earn a unanimous decision over Mir at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

The judges scored the bout 60-54, 60-54, 58-54, per the pay-per-view broadcast.

This was Cunningham's first fight since August 2017. He was a late replacement for Antonio Tarver, who couldn't get a license to fight in Georgia because of his age. The 44-year-old Cunningham looked like he was in excellent shape and had little trouble against Mir, who's most recent professional fight of any kind was a win over Roy Nelson on a Bellator MMA card in October 2019.

Mir came into the bout 70 pounds heavier than Cunningham. Despite the size advantage, Mir didn't seem all that interested in throwing his weight around. He moved around the ring and stayed on the outside, opting to trade punches with Cunningham.

It didn't amount to much action in the first round, but the second saw both fighters land some clean punches. Cunningham did well to time his shots and catch Mir on the chin when he lunged forward. Mir landed a couple of powerful shots that kept Cunningham honest. Even with the flashes of action, neither fighter showed much polish.

Combat sports writer Jonathan Snowden was unimpressed:

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SportingNews.com's Andreas Hale seemed more interested in the commentary from boxing legend Oscar De La Hoya:


In the third round, Cunningham seemed to realize he wasn't in much danger of getting knocked out. He had the skills, speed and length to control Mir. Cunningham started dropping his hands while on the outside, waiting for Mir to leave an opening. He mixed in stinging shots to the body with hard punches up top.

Mir didn't know how to disrupt Cunningham's increasingly relaxed performance. The 41-year-old MMA legend  did manage to make it to the final bell, and he had enough positive moments to impress Bloody Elbow's Connor Busch:


In the end, the fight wasn't much of a spectacle. It was a chance for both men to get a nice payday in their 40s and for longtime fans of Mir to see him in real combat again. If Mir wants to try his hand at boxing again, he'll have to refine his skills or find a different opponent.