Michael Hunter stops Martin Bakole in the closing seconds of heavyweight slugfest
There was plenty of drama, and experience overcame size.
In a hugely entertaining heavyweight attraction, former cruiserweight world title challenger Michael Hunter cemented an effective performance by violently halting colossal prospect Martin Bakole in the 10th and final round at the York Hall in London. The official time was 2:19.
Hunter (15-1, 10 knockouts) landed a big right hand-left hook combination in the 10th and followed up with a series of crunching power shots on an easy and defenseless target. There was no way back for Bakole and referee Phil Edwards stopped the contest, saving the 12-fight novice for future business.
Both men traded some terrific blows in the first two rounds and Hunter, who was outweighed by 43 pounds, got the best of it. Bakole (11-1, 8 KOs) elected to do some reconnaissance, whereas Hunter used the free time to unload with powerful bursts. The American was stunned himself but he’d made an impression on a fearsome looking opponent.
Despite that success, however, Bakole’s size and strength appeared to be taking a toll on Hunter, who began to give ground and lose his shape. It was therefore confusing when Bakole decided to stand off in the third and, although he opened up periodically, Hunter was given plenty of time to box off the target and build a lead.
Trainer Billy Nelson informed his fighter that he was losing before the bell rang for Round 6, but there was still no urgency from the Congo-born heavyweight. Hunter, whose only loss came at the hands of undisputed cruiserweight champion Aleksandr Usyk in April of last year, continued to pick his spots well and Bakole became more and more discouraged.
Things went bad to worse when Bakole injured his right shoulder at the end of Round 8. The bout looked close to being stopped between rounds, but Nelson provided enough encouragement for Bakole to go out for the ninth. The big man merely pawed with his left jab in that session but went for broke in the 10th, a tactic which ultimately was to his detriment.
Hunter should now be a factor at the low end of the heavyweight Top 10. Bakole, who is promoted by Cyclone Promotions, will need a serious rebuild.
Tom Gray is Associate Editor for Ring Magazine. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing
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