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Michael Hunter: ‘I will KO Alexander Povetkin after he fades’

Alexander Povetkin

By Dean Berman: Michael Hunter (18-1, 12 KOs) wants to wear down the old lion Alexander Povetkin (35-2, 24 KOs) and take him out in the later rounds tonight at the Diriyah Arena, in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia.

Hunter, 31, plans on taking his time before going for a knockout of the still dangerous 40-year-old Povetkin in their co-feature match on the Anthony Joshua vs. Andy Ruiz Jr. 2 card. Povetkin packs too much power for Hunter to get wreckless against him.

Both heavyweights are mid-sized, but Povetkin has elite level power. Hunter still punches more like a cruiserweight, and he’s not going to be able to stand and trade all night with Povetkin.

Povetkin-Hunter are the chief support on this Matchroom Boxing promoted card, and they could steak the show from the headliner fight. Most boxing fans are talking about the Joshua vs. Ruiz rematch, but that may not live up to the huge hype.

Hunter vs. Povetkin looking to steal the limelight

2012 U.S Olympian Hunter understands the responsbility that he had on his shoulders to give the fans something exciting to see on the card, and that’s why he wants to KO Povetkin. A knockout win for Hunter would set the table for the main event fight between Joshua and Ruiz.

Hunter weighed in at 226 pounds after Friday’s weigh-in, and he’ll be just 3 lbs lighter than Povetkin, who came in at 229 lbs. The weight is important for Hunter, since this is only his sixth fight at heavyweight. He moved up in weight from cruiserweight following his disapointing 12 round decision loss to Oleksandr Usyk in April 2017. Hunter has looked good since moving to heavyweight, beating the likes of Martin Bakole, Sergey Kuzmin and Alexander Ustinov.

‘The Bounty’ Hunter compares Povetkin fight to being in Olympics

“This is a test, and this is like my Olympic gold medal fight, being in the finals of the Olympics,” said Hunter to IFL TV in discussing his feelings about his match against Povetkin. “Only time will tell after it all unfolds, we’ll see what everyone says. It doesn’t really play into my mind. It’s not something I really think about,” said Hunter in responding to a question on whether he still thinks about his loss to Oleksandr Usyk.

“I don’t think too far in the past, and get ahead of myself. I’m here for Povetkin, and that’s basically my only mission. That [defeat to Usyk] was when I was at cruiserweight, and I’ve learned a lot and grown over time since then over the years. I’m excited, and I want to see what everyone else is going to say [after he beats Povetkin],” said Hunter.

The loss to Usyk was a situation where Hunter met up with a guy with a good set of wheels, and he wasn’t able to adapt to beat him. Hunter was getting the better of Usyk in the first five rounds when the 2012 Olympic gold medalist tried to punch with him.

Usyk was no match for Hunter’s combination punching, and this forced him to change tactics by using movement. Hunter didn’t have the mobility to cut off the ring on Usyk once he started moving to evade him. The good news for Hunter is Povetkin isn’t capable of movement like Usyk, and he’ll be right there in front of him all night tonight.

Hunter: I want to knockout Povetkin after he fades

“What are they going to say now? I would like to stop Povetkin. That would be ideal for me, but we’re not going to press for the knockout. I told them before, I’m going to keep poking the lion until he starts to fade a little bit, and then we’re going to skin him,” said Hunter.

Povetkin can still punch, which makes this a tricky fight for Hunter. If he elects to slug with Povetkin early on, he could get caught with something. At the same time though, Hunter can’t play it safe, and let Povetkin build a big lead on him in the first half of the contest. If that happens, Hunter may not be able to make up the lost rounds in the second half of the fight.

What Hunter doesn’t need is to be put in a situation where he absolutely has to knockout Povetkin in order to win. Hunter isn’t a big enough puncher to be under that kind of pressure to get a come from behind knockout. If Hunter had Deontay Wilder’s punching power, then he could give away the first six rounds without worry, and still catch Povetkin with something big later on. Hunter will need win some of the early rounds tonight in order to be in a good position to win the contest down the stretch.

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