Michael Hunter, unbeaten as a heavyweight, is fast becoming a contender to keep an eye on. Last night in Monaco, the 30 year old who is guided by former heavyweight king Hasim Rahman stopped the far bigger Alexander Ustinov, chopping and breaking Ustinov down for an impressive ninth-round stoppage win. Despite giving away a good deal of height and weight, Hunter dominated the fight pretty much all the way through – as he had predicted he would do.
Finally, in the eighth, Hunter cracked the 41 year old with a series of rights hands to the head that sent the big man down hard. Ustinov got back up but he was badly wobbled by a left hand at the bell and it was apparent the Russian was done. The end came in the ninth, as another flurry of shots sent Ustinov down, forcing his team to throw in the towel. Hunter is now 16-1(11). Ustinov, who might want to think about retirement, falls to 34-3(25).
Hunter has enjoyed a good year here in 2018. The Las Vegas-based contender has fought and won four fights, and back in October he ruined unbeaten hope Martin Bakole with another late-rounds stoppage victory. Now owning the scalp of Ustinov, Hunter is becoming a heavyweight to follow. With his speed, Hunter has proven too much for bigger men and the question is, can he do the same thing he did to Bakole and to Ustinov at elite level?
Wanting to keep his busy schedule going, Hunter will, according to Sky Sports, fight once more before the end of the year; against TBA on the December 22 Dillian Whyte-Dereck Chisora II card in London. Jarrell Miller aside, no heavyweight has had as active a 12 months as Hunter has had.
The sole loss on Hunter’s record came down at cruiserweight, against the supreme Oleksandr Usyk (and Hunter wants a return up at heavyweight), but Hunter has proven to be a different fighter up at heavyweight. It will be very interesting to see who Hunter is matched with on December 22.