Unbeaten heavyweight hope Martin Bakole, 11-0(8) takes the biggest, most high-profile fight of his four-and-a-half year pro career tonight, as he tackles once-beaten former Olympian Michael Hunter in London. Bakole, of The Democratic Republic Of The Congo and now based in Scotland and trained by Billy Nelson, has excited Irish boxing legend Barry McGuigan – so much so that the former featherweight champion has compared Bakole to the great Riddick Bowe.
Writing in his regular column in The Mirror, McGuigan said that while Bakole is far from the finished article at the moment, he has all the “natural talent” needed to go all the way. McGuigan says tonight’s fight against Hunter – 14-1(9), beaten only by Oleksandr Usyk, on points and down at cruiserweight – will be Bakole’s coming out party.
“Heavyweight prospect Martin Bakole reminds me of Riddick Bowe,” McGuigan wrote. “And I choose my words carefully here. Bakole has a long way to go to match Bowe, but in terms of raw talent he has all he needs to make an impact on the world stage. At 6’6,” he is a formidable beast, and good enough to spend 150 rounds sparring with Anthony Joshua over his last couple of fights. He has that most precious quality, innate boxing talent. He also has an incredible chin. His jab is not as good as Bowe’s. But he has quick hands, good combinations, better head movement and arguably takes a better shot than Riddick did. His left hook and left uppercut are sensational.”
Such high praise certainly makes one want to see tonight’s fight between Bakole and Hunter (Hunter trained by former heavyweight ruler Hasim Rahman, who calls “Bounty” Hunter “the best kept secret in the heavyweight division”) – and UK fans can do so on terrestrial channel, Channel 5. McGuigan says that although Hunter and Rahman are “coming to win,” they will know by tomorrow morning how good Bakole really is.
“They might even accept the similarities with Bowe,” McGuigan said.
It’s a good fight tonight, a very interesting match-up. Let’s see how Bakole handles the smaller, but faster Hunter and see if he does indeed have any of the stuff “Big Daddy” had in spades.