Underneath the rumbling Market-Frankford El in the heart of Kensington is where heavyweight Steve Cunningham chose to get away.
In order to prepare for Saturday's bout with Poland's Tomasz Adamek, Cunningham moved his training camp from West Philadelphia's Shuler Gym to Rock Ministries on Kensington Avenue near Somerset Street.
"It's just all for me, and I needed that," Cunningham said. "I needed to get away from the rigmarole. . . . Sometimes, you switch it up to show yourself how serious you are."
The fight, a 12-rounder to be televised live on NBC10 at 4 p.m. from the Sands Casino in Bethlehem, Pa., will be his second since moving up to heavyweight. In December 2008, Cunningham lost his IBF cruiserweight title to Adamek on a split decision.
Adamek (47-2, 29 KOs) moved to heavyweight in 2009 and has won nine of his 10 fights at that weight class. Cunningham (24-4, 12 KOs) said the 36-year-old Adamek has become a better fighter since their last meeting.
"He's doing different things. He's adapted a different style," said Cunningham. "And he's a guy with a chin that's solid as granite."
In the first fight, Adamek sent Cunningham to the mat three times, including with a short right at the end of the second round. Cunningham persevered and rallied to pound Adamek in the fourth with a barrage of left uppercuts before losing the 12-rounder.
Cunningham was denied an immediate rematch, although he thought it would have been an exciting pay-per-view fight.
"I'm looking at this like it's the first time we're fighting," said the 36-year-old Cunningham. "A lot of people are talking about revenge, I'm not looking for revenge. I'm just looking to win this fight."
Ideally, Cunningham will weigh in at 210 pounds on Friday. In September, Cunningham won his heavyweight debut at 207 pounds. The weight allowed him to feel energetic and comfortable, Cunningham said.
"Whatever I come in at, 207, 210, 202, I'm ready to fight," Cunningham said.
The wall across from the ring at Rock Ministries is covered with a sign that reminds gym members that there is "No cursing in this building." In the rear of the room, Cunningham rattles the speed bag while his trainer, Nazim Richardson, hits the fighter with foam noodles.
Graffiti of biblical passages covers one wall, a reflection of the tough streets that await outside the building's caged windows.
"This is where I worship sometimes. There's a church here," said Cunningham. "It's great for the kids to come off the streets and see a former champ working out."