Doncaster’s Jason Cunningham vows to become champion again after devastating Zolani Tete knockout

‘The underdog who never lost hope’ reads a tattoo inked across Jason Cunningham’s chest.

Wednesday, 27th July 2022, 4:54 pm
Updated Wednesday, 27th July 2022, 8:28 pm

And true to that message, ‘The Iceman' has rubbished talk of retirement and vowed to drag himself off the canvas and become a champion again following his devastating knockout defeat to Zolani Tete.

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Cunningham’s seven-fight winning streak, which saw him win British, European and Commonwealth titles, was abruptly halted earlier this month.

Zolani Tete as Referee Howard Foster halts the fight after Jason Cunningham is knocked out during the IBF International and Commonwealth Super Bantamweight Title fight between Jason Cunningham and Zolani Tete at OVO Arena Wembley on July 02, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by James Chance/Getty Images)

But he is already back in the gym under the guidance of trainer Stefy Bull and targeting a return to the ring in October.

“I just want to get back and put things right,” Cunningham told The Free Press.

"There’s still some big fights out there for me.”

Cunningham struggled to impose himself on two-weight world champion Zolani before suffering a hospitalising knockout in the fourth round, having been floored moments earlier.

Jason Cunningham in action during the IBF International and Commonwealth Super Bantamweight Title fight between Jason Cunningham and Zolani Tete at OVO Arena Wembley on July 02, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by James Chance/Getty Images)

The Woodlands fighter admitted he was in trouble from round one and added: “I could feel the level, it was something completely different to what I’ve been in with before.

"He was razor-sharp. The better man won. I don’t regret it, I always believe.”

Cunningham’s renaissance meant he hadn’t tasted the disappointment of defeat since 2018.

But the seventh loss of his professional career hit harder than ever.

He said: "I have got this promotional deal with Frank (Warren, Queensberry Promotions), my career has really took off and it’s on a roll and you think ‘I’m getting close now’.

"It’s a bit sore because of the manner of the defeat. I wasn’t feeling myself for a good week after the fight, it’s gutting and it’s taken a bit longer this time to get over and pull myself together.

"Now it’s time to give myself a kick up the backside and prove a point. I’m putting things right, I don’t want to hang about.”

With his chances at world level now seemingly over, several people, including Warren, mooted the idea of retirement to Cunningham.

"Frank said: ‘We’ll do whatever you want to do’, I said: ‘I’m carrying on, I can’t go out like that for my own pride’.

"I won’t end my career on that fight. I’m coming towards the end of my career and I just want to go out on a high.”

"I’ll definitely be back and I’ll definitely be champion again.”