|PHILLY BOXING HISTORY - March 30, 2016|
Eric "Outlaw" Hunter, 21-3, 11 KOs, held an open media day on Wednesday, just prior to his trip to England for an IBF world featherweight title shot against Welshman Lee Selby, 22-1, 8 KOs. The 12-round bout is scheduled for London's O2 Arena on April 9th, and will be broadcast in the USA by Showtime.
While some fighters might be leery about taking their chance for a world title on foreign soil, far closer to the champion’s home turf, Hunter seems unfazed by the potential disadvantage of this important away game.
“About me fighting him in London, I don’t think it really means nothing,” Hunter said. “Even if they try to cheat me over there, as long as it’s on TV the world still gets to see it.”
Hunter has had a long and rocky road to this, his first title bout. He was an outstanding amateur when he turned pro ten years ago. At that time, most believed that he would march right to a world title, but that was not the case.
Hunter piled up wins, but his career seemed to go nowhere – especially for one with so much talent. The word in Philly has always been that The Outlaw was probably the best overall fighter in the city. However, Hunter never had much to show for it.
Hunter won his first five bouts before dropping a controversial decision against Carlos Vinan in Philadelphia. Eric bounced back with ten more wins before losing his first nationally televised bout.
His fight with Luis Franco on Showtime was a disaster. Taking the fight on short notice, Hunter struggled against Franco before finally fouling out in round eight. It was a terrible TV debut.
He remained inactive for the next nineteen months, but then returned for two more wins, including an excellent nationally televised decision over then-undefeated Jerry Belmontes.
The victory appeared to signal Hunter’s second coming, but in his very next bout he was disqualified again, this time for hitting on the break against veteran Mike Oliver. The stray punch knocked Oliver cold and stalled Hunter’s career further.
Six months later, Hunter returned to defeat Yenifel Vicente to win the USBA featherweight belt, his first piece of professional hardware. Clearly Outlaw seemed on his way to a title shot.
But not so fast.
Hunter signed with Golden Boy and fought for the promotional giant three times. Then he was scheduled to fight in Argentina in a title elimination bout. The fight never came off, and Hunter and Golden Boy went their separate ways after the non-fight.
Outlaw has always been a fighter with a (self-proclaimed) black cloud hanging over him. After his split from Golden Boy, his career seemed to again be going nowhere fast.
However, it a rare turn of luck, the IBF installed Hunter as the mandatory challenger for champion Lee Selby.
“I was rated by the IBF for the longest time,” Hunter said. “I was rated higher than Lee Selby was when he fought Fernando Montiel and when he got Evgeny Gradovich.”
Suddenly the black cloud had lifted and Hunter actually caught a break, and this title opportunity materialized. Had it not been for that mandatory designation by the IBF, Hunter surely would have still been waiting.
Ever since the first whisper of a possible title fight, Hunter has been working hard and seems more focused and confident than ever before.
“Not to be smart or cocky,” Hunter said. “But I never seen him fight. I never heard of him until the Gradovich fight. And with that fight, I think Gradovich was winning but he (Selby) got the hometown decision. He boxed well. He runs pretty good.”
Despite believing that Selby got lucky at home, Hunter doesn’t see it happening in their fight next week.
“I don’t think that’s going to be the case,” Hunter said. “Not in this fight. I can adjust. I can fight. I can box. I got better footwork. I can bang. I can do a few things that he probably can’t.”
If this is the case and Hunter can beat Selby and escape the UK with a fair shake, maybe that black cloud will be gone for good.
This is the chance that Eric Hunter has been waiting for. He has the talent to be a champion. Everyone in Philly knows that. Now he just has to prove it.
Watch for a final interview with Eric Hunter and a preview of the fight on Monday.