Cunningham-Jones to battle for IBF title!


Cunningham-Jones to battle for IBF title!

Guillermo "El Felino" Jones will face Steve "USS" Cunningham for the IBF cruiserweight title when the 20th anniversary celebration of SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING continues on Cinco de Mayo weekend with a world championship doubleheader Saturday, May 6, on SHOWTIME (9 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the west coast) at the DCU Center in Worcester, Mass.


The main event, as previously announced, will feature hard-hitting Alejandro "Terra" Garcia (25-1, 24 KOs) making his first defense in his second stint as WBA super welterweight champion against enormously popular local favorite and former WBA welterweight titleholder Jose Antonio "El Gallo" Rivera (37-4-1, 24 KOs).


Jones (33-3-2, 26 KOs), who is ranked No. 2 by the IBF, and the No. 1-ranked Cunningham (19-0, 10 KOs), will clash in the co-feature for the title made vacant recently when O'Neil Bell was stripped by the IBF.  Bell was supposed to defend against Cunningham on May 6.


Cunningham-Jones will be a rematch of their April 2, 2005 meeting in which Cunningham narrowly edged Jones on a 10-round split decision.


Jones, of Colon, Panama, is 10-1-1 in his last 12 starts. He has won two straight since falling just short against Cunningham, both victories coming against former cruiserweight champions. In his last start, Jones produced a career-best performance when he scored an upset fourth-round TKO over Wayne Braithwaite Sept. 3, 2005, on SHOWTIME. In his outing before last, he registered a fourth-round TKO over Kelvin Davis on May 21, 2005. Jones, who turned pro at welterweight, twice fought for the WBA junior middleweight title, but has been campaigning as a cruiserweight since April 2002. Jones fought to a controversial 12-round draw against WBO cruiserweight champion Johnny Nelson on Nov. 23, 2002.


Cunningham, of Philadelphia, is ranked No. 1 in the IBF, No. 2 in the WBC and WBO and No. 4 in the WBA. A talented boxer-puncher who was an All-Navy Military champion is trained by the legendary Richie Giachetti. Cunningham, who recorded a fifth-round TKO over Lloyd Bryan in his last start on Jan. 7, 2006, earned his biggest win when he outpointed Davis across 12 rounds in an IBF eliminator on Sept. 3, 2005.


Garcia, of Tijuana, Mexico, was reinstated by the WBA as its 154-pound champion when Travis Simms refused to give him a rematch. The only defeat in Garcia's career came when he was dethroned by Simms on a controversial, fluke fifth-round knockout in December 2003. Garcia captured the WBA interim 154-pound crown with a ninth-round TKO over Rhoshii Wells on May 21, 2005. In his last start, Garcia retained the interim belt with a 12-round decision over Luca Messi on Aug. 13, 2005.


Rivera, of Worcester, by way of Philadelphia, is the WBA No. 3 super welterweight contender. He is stepping up a notch in weight and making his first start since losing his WBA 147-pound crown to Luis Collazo on a 12-round split decision in a thrilling, give-and-take slugfest on April 2, 2005, in Worcester. Rivera, who came up short by the scores of 115-113 twice and 113-115, was supposed to challenge the then-WBO 154-pound kingpin Daniel Santos last September on SHOWTIME, but was forced to withdraw with an elbow injury that required surgery.