HUNTING DOWN AJ: US OLYMPIAN IN THE ASCENDANCY TO PROVE WORLD CLASS CREDENTIALS
Sunday 25th November 2018
He's made a huge statement with two impressive wins on the bounce; the first against Billy Nelson's protégé Martin Bakole at the York Hall in October and over a month later, recorded his best win on record, stopping Alexander Ustinov in the ninth round in Monaco, which puts 30-year-old American Michael Hunter in an excellent position among the promising heavyweight mix.
The amateur pedigree of Hunter was displayed from the opening bell, with 'The Bounty' touching the rather immobile and fleshy Ustinov to the body and whipping that looping right hand upstairs.
Hunter started with a ferocious pace and maintained this level of ferocity and intensity throughout the second, third and fourth round, before slowing down the 6 foot 7 inch Russian in the fifth round.
Ustinov just didn't seem to get into any sort of flow and was reluctant to throw his jab to start producing openings and exploit Hunter's high guard at times.
Hunter came out for the majority of rounds, full of confidence, throwing feints and landing consecutive one-two combinations down the middle and could not miss with Ustinov, who was a sitting target.
The right leg of Ustinov dipped at the end of the fourth and Hunter was finding the accurate right hand all night long, banking the rounds with the higher volume of shots and making Ustinov's defence look silly.
Into the fifth round, Ustinov was being outclassed in every exchange and was forced to hold on when the pair got caught up on the inside.
Hunter was judging the distance, stepping in and although not always getting the shot off and hitting the target, was making calculated steps to find that eye-catching shot for the judges to applaud.
The constant success of Hunter was having a detrimental and fatigue effect on Ustinov and the Belarusian was slowing the fight down by leaning on the American trying to stop him from finding his range on the outside.
The lead left hook, right-hand expresses Hunter's intentions to make a statement and step on the gas in what could send warning signs out to the rest of the heavyweights in the division.
Down on the scorecards, Ustinov was desperate to have a breather. Hunter knew Ustinov was tiring and was not satisfied with cruising to a points victory after his explosive KO victory over another rising heavyweight prospect, in Bakole.
Hunter announced his rival at heavyweight landing a crippling shot at the end of the eighth round, with less than a minute in the round, and left Ustinov disorientated when he got to his feet and needed the intervention of the bell to save him from further damage.
To the great surprise of everyone at ringside, inside the glamorous Casino de Monte Carlo Salle Medicin, the fight continued into the ninth, but Ustinov's time was up with 1 minute 10 seconds left in the round and the corner finally showed compassion by throwing the towel in.
What is for certain is that Hunter has got ambition and a great addition to the heavyweight landscape that is lacking modern heavyweights with mobility and good movement that could cause more conventional heavyweights problems.