Michael Hunter vs. Alexander Ustinov – preview & prediction
By Jim Dower: 2012 U.S Olympian Michael Hunter (15-1, 10 KOs) will be making his fourth fight at heavyweight this Saturday night against Alexander Ustinov (34-2, 25 KOs) this Saturday night in a 12 round fight at the Casino de Monte Carlo Salle Medecin, Monte Carlo.
Hunter, 30, is stepping in as a replacement opponent to fill in for 2012 Olympian Zhilei Zhang, who had visa problems. The 6’2″ Hunter will be giving away 5 1/2″ inches in height and 65 pounds to the 280+ lb Ustinov on Saturday. The size advantage for Ustinov might not make much of a difference though. Hunter is a lot younger than the 41-year-old Ustinov, and far more athletic. The conditioning and the high punch output from Hunter is going to present a problem for Ustinov that he’s not going to be able to overcome on size alone.
Hunter would like a rematch with IBF/WBA/WBC/WBO cruiserweight champion Oleksander Usyk at heavyweight. Hunter lost to Usyk last year by a 12 round unanimous decision in April 2017 in a competitive fight from start to finish. It was easily the toughest fight for Usyk of his career as a pro. While Bellew gave Usyk some problems for the first five rounds before running out of gas and getting stopped,
“I found out a few days ago, really,” said Hunter to skysports.com. “It hasn’t been long. I’m always working out and I’m in shape. “I’m pretty confident I’m going to chop him down. I’m kind of like the giant slayer right now. That’s the plan, to chop him down, and probably get him in the later rounds,” Hunter said.
Since turning pro in 2013, Hunter has impressive wins over Isiah Thomas, Iago Kiladze and Martin Bakole Ilunga, The victory over Ilunga was a big one, because there were a lot of people in the boxing world that thought Hunter would lose that fight. Hunter was outweighed by over 40 pounds by Ilunga, and yet he found a way to win by outworking him.
Ustinov looked great five years ago, beating David Tua, Chauncy Welliver, Travis Walker, Raphael Zumbano and Denis Bakhtov. The only guys that have beaten Ustinov is Kubrat Pulev and Manuel Charr. The bad thing is that Ustinov only recently was beaten by Charr last year in a one-sided 12 round decision in November 2017. That was the last time the 280+ pound Ustinov fought. To be out of the ring for that length of time isn’t a good deal for Ustinov with him taking on a juggernaut like Hunter. The American fighter is going to push a fast pace to try and wear Ustinov down, and if he’s not in the best of shape, he’s going to wind up getting worn down and likely stopped.
Although it would be a great fight for boxing fans to see a second Usyk-Hunter fight, it’s unlikely to happen. Usyk’s co-promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing USA will likely prefer to match him against one of his own fighters rather than going outside of his stable. That means that after Anthony Joshua likely defeats Dillian Whyte on April 13, he could be a future opponent for Usyk to fight. Dereck Chisora and Dave Allen are other options.
Ustinov had a chance of going somewhere with his career six years ago, but he was stopped in the 12th round by Kubrat Pulev in September 2012. Pulev did little more than throwing jabs the entire fight, but that was more than enough for him to dominate Ustinov, who couldn’t get close enough for him to land his power shots. Pulev’s outside game was too much for the taller Ustinov to deal with. Ustinov’s career went nowhere after the loss to Pulev. Ustinov was matched against largely weak opposition for the last six years until recently when he was put in with Charr.
“Hopefully I will get to fight him [again]. I know he’s going to be moving up to heavyweight and hopefully my time will come where I meet him again,” Hunter said about wanting a rematch with Usyk.
Hunter needs to keep his attention on Ustinov. This is a fight that he could lose if he takes his eyes off the ball.
This is a fight that Hunter has a very good chance of winning. He’s got the fight in the bag pretty much based on his youth, work rate and pedigree. Hunter will very likely wear Ustinov down and stop him by the 8th round. The badly flawed Manuel Charr was able to knock Ustinov down in the 8th round in the process of winning a one-sided 12 round unanimous decision by the scores 115-111, 116-111 and 115-112. If Charr was able to knock Ustinov down, then Hunter has a very good chance of doing the same thing and more.