For the duration of his pro career, Michael Hunter has developed a reputation as a fighter willing to take on all comers.
Getting his divisional peers to return the favor has proven troublesome, which is why he has chosen the route he will next travel.
The 2012 U.S. Olympian and second-generation heavyweight contender is scheduled for a showcase slot on the August 14 Triller Fight Club Pay-Per-View event, which takes place at a location to be determined. Las Vegas’ Hunter (19-1-1, 13KOs) will face Oregon’s Mike Wilson (21-1, 10KOs) in a 10-round bout on a show topped by World lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez (16-0, 12KOs) versus IBF mandatory challenger George Kambosos Jr. (19-0, 10KOs).
The fight came together on the heels of Hunter walking away from an ordered title eliminator versus 2016 Olympic Bronze medalist Filip Hrgovic, preferring instead to pursue a path where he can raise his profile and enter talks as the A-side rather than to be the one constantly chasing bigger opportunities.
“My biggest thing is to have a platform like Triller to fight on is to get my face out there, to be seen,” Hunter noted during a media conference call to discuss the bout versus Wilson. “A lot of my opponents and peers use the excuse that I’m a high risk, low reward type of fighter.
“Getting my face out here, being seen is the only thing I have left. I have all the rankings. That’s the way I’m going to be pushing it—have a few fights on Triller and more to come. People getting acclimated to me being the number one heavyweight, getting them used to that.”
Hunter advanced near the top of the IBF rankings, doing so the hard way after moving up from cruiserweight following a 12-round title fight loss to then WBO champ Oleksandr Usyk in April 2017. The 32-year-old American has since gone 7-0-1 at heavyweight, including his bumping off unbeaten prospects Martin Bakole and Sergey Kuzmin. The lone blemish over that stretch came in a hard-fought 12-round draw with two-time heavyweight title challenger Alexander Povetkin in December 2019.
The bout with Povetkin was the final one for Hunter under the Matchroom Boxing USA banner, having fought just once since then. The moment came last December, when he stopped Shawn Laughery in the 4th round of their supporting bout of an independent PPV event topped by unbeaten former super middleweight titlist Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez in Galveston, Texas.
Hunter was interested in entering any fight leading to a title shot, though preferring to level the playing field in the process.
A significant first step comes in his appearance on the Triller card, which he hopes to be the first of many.
“I think they should be able to keep me very active,” believes Hunter. “They throw shows very often. And it’s on a big platform. Those two major factors should be able to help, me and my career.
“Everyone’s career is different. This will eliminate the excuses from guys like Dillian Whyte and even Anthony Joshua, to be able to fight me. This is kind of something to cut it off. This is something for me to build my brand.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox