Which Heavyweight Boxing Contender Is Now A Free Agent?
After a year with Matchroom Boxing, Michael Hunter has decided to test the market.
The former contender ended up telling Sky Sports he will be leaving the Matchroom brand. Hunter (18-1-1) also stated he will be looking for a return to the ring in September.
“I’m working on a fight in September but I’ve parted ways with DAZN and Matchroom,” Hunter stated. “I’m putting that out there. I’m basically a free agent now, and I’m looking for opportunities. I’m not sure where that’s going to lead me.
“I love Matchroom, I don’t have a problem with Matchroom. I like the company, but I think it wasn’t feasible for them to continue to allow me to be a part of their company, but not fully embracing the company. They had to make a decision where they fully embraced me or let me go.”
The 31-year-old Hunter is a one-time Golden Gloves Champion and a U.S. National Champion winner. “The Bounty” signed with Matchroom in 2018-2019 and won his first fight with the promotion against Alexander Ustinov, a TKO-win. As a result, he won the WBA International Heavyweight Title. He fought three more times, all in 2019; against Fabio Maldonado (TKO win), Sergey Kuzmin (unanimous decision win), and Alexander Povetkin (split decision draw).
The last bout was in December in Saudi Arabia, the same night as Andy Ruiz Jr. v. Anthony Joshua II. Hunter believes that Matchroom’s attention wasn’t really on him, at least compared to fighters like Joshua, Dillian Whyte, and Oleksandr Usyk.
“I was never fully embraced. I was more like an independent contractor for them,” Hunter stated to Boxing Scene. “They didn’t want me to fight their in-house guys. I’m the boogeyman to them. It was hard for them to find fights for me, but I found that flattering that opponents avoided me. That’s the best badge of honor I could get … I know [not renewing my contract] was a business move, and I have no ill feelings toward them. I was a high risk, low-reward fighter for opponents.”
Hunter is looking to get back to title contention. He fought for a world title once, losing to Usyk for the WBO Junior-Heavyweight Title in 2017. It was the lone loss of his career, and he has since gone 6-0-1. Ranked number four by the IBF, Hunter is interested in facing off against Charles Martin, ranked second. He beat Gerald Washington to earn the honor, and Hunter wouldn’t mind an eliminator bout.
Regarding the crowded heavyweight field, Matchroom’s Eddie Hearn spoke with Boxing Scene and agreed a lot is going on within the division.
“We did not make him a new offer following the expiration of his contract,” Hearn stated. “There is a lot of heavyweight congestion and with the current issues and backlog I didn’t feel we could deliver him fights with our outstanding obligations within the division.”
Hunter will now look to make a move to Premier Boxing Champions or Top Rank, where he believes his 12 wins via knockout will be valued.