2012 U.S. Olympian says he's hunting for a big bounty after his most recent victory.
Michael “The Bounty” Hunter, a former cruiserweight title contender and 2012 U.S. Olympian, had to overcome a mountain of obstacles to score a 10th-round TKO victory over Martin Bakole at York Hall in London on October 13.
Hunter was out-weighed by 43 pounds. He gave up a four-inch height advantage. He suffered a cut near his right eye. And he was severely wobbled and out on his feet in the seventh round. Still he managed to score a dramatic stoppage victory against Bakole in the final round.
Hunter (15-1, 10 KOs) fired a head-swiveling right hand-left hook combination, the first of 28 unanswered blows against Bakole, who lay defenseless on the ropes, until referee Phil Edwards rescued the Scotland-based Congolese fighter.
“The majority of the crowd was for Bakole at first, but after making my statement, they weren’t necessarily my fans, but they stood up, cheered and respected me with a standing ovation,” Hunter said. “After an action-packed fight, where we were knocking sweat on fans and everything, I ended up winning them over. I really enjoy fighting at heavyweight, coming from underneath and going over the top with overhands and generally giving the fans their money’s worth.”
In taking down the 6-foot-6, 256-pound Bakole, the 6-foot-2, 213 ¼-pound Hunter won for the third-consecutive time in as many heavyweight bouts since losing a unanimous decision to unified cruiserweight titleholder Oleksandr Usyk in April 2017.
“Bakole got away from me in the ninth round, but I knew I had another round and was patient. Once I saw him gassing and complaining about his arm or whatever his problem was, I knew that was a sign that he was giving up, that I should turn it up, land from distance, let my hands go, and that he wouldn’t be able to last against my punches,” said the 30-year-old Hunter, who is the son of former heavyweight contender Mike “The Bounty” Hunter.
“The cut never concerned me as much as it felt like there was something in my eye, so I was touching and trying to wipe my eye because my vision was blurry for a round or two. But I wasn’t really worried about the blood or anything because I saw that he was tiring out. Their thing was that I was a small heavyweight, so I wanted the knockout to try and make a statement that, large or small, I’m a heavyweight who is here to stay.”
Former heavyweight champion Hasim Rahman, who coaches Hunter, was a 20-to-1 underdog when he landed a picture-perfect right cross in the fifth round to knock out champion Lennox Lewis in Brakpan, South Africa in 2001. It still ranks as one of the greatest upsets in heavyweight boxing history.
“Everyone knew Hasim from knocking out Lennox, and with his presence and his wisdom, he told me from Round 7 on that Bakole was ready to quit and had nothing left,” Hunter said.
“Bakole’s coach picked his gloves, and Hasim, from his experience, let me pick my own gloves. From going to watch them wrap Bakole’s hands and little things like that, Hasim just brought a different level of energy, making sure everything was perfect and on-point.”
“ I just wanna let the fans know I’m ready to get my name out there and ready for anybody in the top 10. ” Heavyweight Michael Hunter
Bakole was coming off consecutive first-round stoppages in November and June over previously unbeaten Ali Baghouz and DL Jones, who entered with an 8-1-1 record.
“Bakole definitely had the size advantage, he’s very heavy-handed and took a lot of shots well right from the beginning, which let me know that it was going to be a long night even though I knew I would out-will him. But I never really got hurt from his shots to the point where I was going to go down,” Hunter said.
“I was just a little fatigued trying to get my feet back under me. His arms were pretty long, so he would throw shots when I was trying to exit. I would get caught as he connected right at the tale-end as I was pulling out, which made it look worse than it was. I tried to three shots to every one shot he threw, being mindful of what the judges might be seeing.”
Bakole has served as sparring partner for a trio of big British heavyweights—champion Anthony Joshua, title challenger Hughie Fury and prospect Daniel “Dynamite” Dubois (9-0, 8 KOs).
A superheavyweight national champion in 2007 and 2009, Hunter returned to London for the first time since losing in the first-round of the 2012 Olympics to current unbeaten IBF 175-pound champion Artur Beterbiev.
“I’ve had plenty of sparring sessions with Deontay Wilder, who was a cruiserweight when I was a heavyweight, and we both know who was in control. Tyson Fury, I took his will away just like Bakole and had him out on his feet, but they gave him the win. I was still an amateur when I stopped (former champion) Bermane Stiverne as an undefeated pro back-to-back over two days,” Hunter said.
“I stopped (title challenger) Andy Ruiz in the amateurs and sparred Charles Martin and Dominic Breazeale, and they both know they’ve never ever gotten the best of me. Now I’d like to fight Dillian Whyte or Dereck Chisora, or even Joseph Parker. I just wanna let the fans know I’m ready to get my name out there and ready for anybody in the top 10.”
Hunter scored a unanimous decision win in April over Terrell Jamal Woods and a fifth-round KO of Iago Kiladze in June. Prior to Uzyk, Hunter overcame previously unbeaten southpaw Isiah Thomas by unanimous decision in May 2016.
“Your tactics are different as a heavyweight than against smaller guys, trying not to let bigger guys lean on you, fighting more from distance, being craftier, using footwork and movement to get in and get out and under bigger guys’ shots,” Hunter said.
For a closer look at Michael Hunter, check out his fighter page.
- Michael Hunter