Michael Hunter hands Sergey Kuzmin his first defeat, wins wide decision in NYC
NEW YORK — Michael Hunter collected another big man “bounty”, outboxing the larger but technically inferior Sergey Kuzmin at The Theater at Madison Square Garden Friday night. The scores were identical across the board – 117-110 – as Hunter handed Kuzmin his first pro loss.
Kuzmin had no answers, following around the former cruiserweight as Hunter boxed and countered, landing and turning the corner before Kuzmin could respond. Hunter weighed 221 1/4 pounds, significantly smaller than the 258 1/4 pounds of Kuzmin, though the size never was much of a factor.
Hunter (18-1, 12 knockouts) of Van Nuys, Calif., targeted Kuzmin with right hands and split the guard with uppercuts – often from distance – while not neglecting Kuzmin’s ample midsection with his body punches.
Hunter scored the only knockdown in the fight in the fifth when he caught Kuzmin in an exchange of hooks, and despite having more than two minutes to finish matters, he maintained his pacing and continued to pick his spots.
Kuzmin (15-1, 11 KOs) of Russia had his best moment in the eighth, when Hunter stayed in the pocket too long, catching him with a three punch combination that briefly rocked Hunter. Hunter, who had former heavyweight champ Hasim Rahman in his corner, continued the same game plan, as did Kuzmin, to his detriment.
“I wanted to stop the boy, but he’s a tough opponent, I didn’t get him. I am pleased with my performance, but I saw some things I need to sharpen up on,” said the 31 year old Hunter, a 2012 U.S. Olympian.
The win makes five straight for Hunter since his lone defeat, a competitive decision loss to Oleksandr Usyk in April of 2017 in a WBO cruiserweight title fight. The win was reminiscent of his dominance a year ago against Alexander Ustinov, another giant whom Hunter picked apart with his movement and counterpunching.
Afterwards, Hunter made it known he wanted a fight with another Russian – Alexander Povetkin.
The Hunter-Kuzmin fight kicked off the main card portion of the DAZN broadcast, which is headlined by Devin Haney vs. Zaur Abdullaev.
Ford, Yeleussinov remain unbeaten
Raymond Ford, a 2018 National Golden Gloves champ from Camden, N.J., moved his record to 4-0 (1 KOs), outboxing Rafael Castillo to a four round unanimous decision win. Ford used his southpaw jab and movement to keep Castillo (1-4) off him, but still took a few shots in the fourth round from the game journeyman.
Daniyar Yeleussinov (8-0, 4 KOs) showed some serious maturity as a pro, dropping the previously unbeaten Reshard Hicks (12-1-1, 6 KOs) twice in round one of the welterweight bout to force the stoppage at 2:38. Yeleussinov, a 2016 Olympic gold medalist, walked to the ring to Public Enemy’s “Welcome to the Terrordome”, reminiscent of Mike Tyson’s entrance for the “Razor” Ruddock rematch, and brought some Tyson-esque ferocity, using straight left hands to overpower the Texan.
The fight was the first scheduled ten rounder for the 28 year old Yeleussinov.
The eight round junior welterweight fight between Larry Fryers, a come forward brawler, and Wesley Ferrer, a smooth boxing New Yorker, was as stark a contrast in styles as there can be. Unfortunately for Fryers, that styles clash worked far more in Ferrer’s favor than his own.
Ferrer (14-1-1, 7 KOs) switched stances and countered the popular Irishman Fryers (11-2, 4 KOs) at will, busting him up and winning a unanimous decision. One scorecard had the fight a shutout, 80-72, while the other two had it 79-73, all for Ferrer, a former New York Golden Gloves runner-up from Brooklyn.