By Jeff Aranow: Former cruiserweight world title challenger Michael Hunter (15-1, 10 KOs) defeated Martin Bakole llunga (11-1, 8 KOs) by a 10th round knockout to capture the vacant IBO Inter-Continental heavyweight title on Saturday night at York Hall in Bethnal Green, London, UK.
Hunter hurt IIlunga with a hard right hand in the 10th. Hunter then flurried on IIlunga with a storm of unanswered punches until the referee Phil Edwards was forced to step in and halt the fight. The official time of the stoppage was at 2:19 of round 10. If the referee hadn’t stepped in and stopped it, Hunter would have knocked Illunga clean out. Hunter had Illunga trapped against the ropes and was hitting him with shots that had his head ricocheting back and forth. It looked bad.
The performance by the 2012 U.S Olympian Hunter showed that he could be a major player in the heavyweight division in a year or two. He just needs to possibly put on a little more weight so that he matches up against the bigger fighters. Although Hunter weighed in at roughly the same weight that WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder weighed in for his last fight at 213 pounds, he didn’t show the same kind of punching power. Hunter beat IIlunga tonight with his high volume punching and his ability to take a lot of shots. Hunter was willing to stay int the pocket and trade with IIlunga, which allowed him to land a lot of shots that wore the fighter from Congo down.
Hunter’s lack of size compared to the 256 pound IIunga made the fight a lot tougher than it should have been. Hunter didn’t have the weight on his punches to get the much heavier and bigger IIlunga out of there the way that a bigger heavyweight would have. Hunter was basically a rehydrated cruiserweight tonight, and that’s what made the fight tough for him. Hunter will need to firm up his physique and add a lot more muscle for him to compete with guys like Anthony Joshua, Jarrell Miller, Dillian Whyte, Deontay Wilder, Joseph Parker Luis Ortiz.
The victory for Hunter was his third straight since losing to World Boxing Organization cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyl last year in April 2017. Hunter gave Usyk one of his toughest fights of his pro career in losing a 12 round unanimous decision by the scores 117-110, 117-110 and 117-110. Hunter forced Usyk to box him, as he was getting hit too much by him when he initially tried to stand in front of him and slug. Hunter was too busy for Usyk, so he was forced to get on his bike and box and move.