When Michael Hunter moved up to the heavyweight division in 2018, many didn’t pay attention.
They should have.
Hunter has reeled off six straight wins, the latest a dominant decision over Sergey Kuzmin last September in New York City.
The victory earned Hunter (18-1, 12 KOs) a fight against former WBA heavyweight champion Alexander Povetkin this Saturday night on the undercard of the Andy Ruiz Jr. versus Anthony Joshua rematch.
When he campaigned as a cruiserweight, Hunter captured the WBO cruiserweight title in 2017. He lost his undefeated record and title to top-ranked Oleksandr Usyk in his next bout. Hunter took some time off to regroup. Boxing is in Hunter’s blood. His father, Michael Hunter Sr., threw hands with a number of the major heavyweights in the 1980s and 90s.
Hunter Jr. returned with a new outlook and trainer, family friend, and former heavyweight champion, Hasim Rahman. There first fight together was memorable. Hunter fought undefeated heavyweight Martin Bakile Ilunga in London.
Bakile was a big favorite. Some said he’d be heavyweight champion someday. Hunter didn’t listen. He ignored a cut over his right eye, and a rough seventh round, before stopping the much bigger Bakile in the 12th round.
Hunter was back in the ring a month later against old pro Alexander Ustinov. The result was a brutal ninth round knockout.
The 31-year-old Hunter has a pretty good idea what he’ll be facing when he fights Povetkin.
“Povetkin’s fought against top-level guys for over a decade, and that’s something I don’t have,”
Hunter said in an interview with Manouk Akopyan of www.boxingscene.com. “I will have to overcome a lot of things with his experience. He’s a strong puncher with a great left hook. People really don’t know what I have, so this is a test. This is the perfect opportunity for me.”
Povetkin, 40, has won 35 of 37 fights, scoring 24 knockouts. His defeats were at the hands of Wladimir Klitschko and Joshua. He was last seen in the ring winning a decision over Hughie Fury.
The win wasn’t very impressive. Povetkin has looked creaky at times.
Hunter is ready.
“This is my big shot,” said Hunter. “It could have come earlier, but I’m here now.”