UNDEFEATED heavyweight champion Tyson Fury got off the floor to edge a step closer to a world title shot with Wladimir Klitschko with a seventh-round KO of Steve "SSS" Cunningham at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Fury (24) almost paid the ultimate price for dropping his hands, exposing his chin and taunting 36-year-old Cunningham to "come on" in the early exchanges.
The Philadelphian, a former world cruiserweight champion, obliged and dropped Fury with an overhand right in the second round. Fury was also docked a point by referee Eddie Cotton for leading with his head in the fifth.
The KO in the IBF eliminator for the No 2 position improved Fury to 21 wins (15 KOs). Unbeaten Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev, the No 1, now awaits ahead of a shot at Klitschko for the world title. However, it is possible that Pulev will meet Klitschko first and Fury will meet the winner.
Fury's win was far from convincing, but the Irish champion was looking at the positives.
"I'm not a judge so I couldn't tell you how the fight was going," he said. "But I can tell you how the fight was going in my mind. I was just hunting him down, like a lion on a deer. And he was running away and I was hunting him down and bang, struck, caught, goodnight."