PHILLY BOXING HISTORY - April 09, 2016  
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SELBY DEFEATS HUNTER
TO DEFEND TITLE
 
Story by John DiSanto
Photos by Lawrence Lustig
 

 
   

IBF featherweight champion Lee Selby, 23-1, 8 KOs, defended his title against West Philly’s Eric “Outlaw” Hunter, 21-4. 11 KOs, via 12-round unanimous decision, Saturday at the O2 Arena in London. Hunter floored Selby in round two, but the champion got up and went on to outwork the challenger over the remainder of the fight.

Throughout the bout, Hunter was repeatedly warned for low blows and referee Marcus McDonnell penalized him one point in round eight. The point itself didn’t really factor into the outcome, but the referee and his reprimands did have a major impact on Hunter.

The high-strung Philadelphian slowly became unglued by the referee’s actions, and in doing so, let his long-awaited title opportunity slip through his fingertips. The fight was an agonizing affair for Hunter and his fans. It was the worst case scenario and worst nightmare come true. The toughest part about it was that Hunter played his own part in the fiasco.

As the warnings came, Hunter fell into a familiar pattern of paranoia and it kept him from doing his best in the fight. Certainly it was an extra hurdle for him, but it did not put the fight out of reach. Hunter had the skills to win this fight, but didn’t. 

Hunter is probably the most distrustful boxer to come along in quite a while. Some, including Eric himself, say that he’s this way for good reason. His promising career stalled through the years with one bad break after another slowing his progress.

However, Hunter has not been an innocent bystander in all the misfortune. His skills have never been in doubt, but his temperament has always been the elephant in the room.

On Saturday far away in the UK, Hunter, instead of silencing his critics and erasing all the previous turmoil of his career, squandered his opportunity and galvanized his standing as a talented, but troubled enigma. Hunter did not cleanse his reputation in London, he doubled-down on it.

Perhaps the cards were stacked against him. He was the challenger fighting near the champion’s backyard. The British referee was heavy-handed in his judgements and seemed to know the American’s troubled track record well. However, all of these disadvantages were presumed to be likely obstacles long before Hunter ever boarded the plane for the UK. The job was to avoid them or fight through these issues. Unfortunately, Hunter didn’t manage to do either.

Outlaw fell victim to not only to the referee’s style, but also to his own penchant for chaos on nights that aren’t going his way. It’s a bad habit, and it really bit him this time.

None of the “low blows” were flagrant, or even very low for that matter. Still, the referee regularly warned Hunter, and eventually deducted one point. Although it is true that the warnings and one threat to disqualify him were disruptive to Hunter and his game plan, it was Hunter’s own behavior that ultimately undid him. 

The Philadelphian showed that he had the power to hurt and floor the champion. However, Hunter failed to capitalize. He did not put Selby away in the second round and even allowed the wounded Welshman to come back and win the third. In fact, Hunter failed to win another round until the eighth, a frame that wound up even, after the one point penalty.

Selby used his long jab and stiff right hands to control much of the fight. He landed on Hunter steadily and his work rate was far better. Hunter fought in spurts, landing dangerous counter punches, but not nearly enough to build any momentum during the fight. Surely the referee hindered Hunter’s momentum, but the challenger simply didn’t do enough to win the fight.

The official scores were 116-110, 116-110 and 115-111, all for Lee Selby.

After the bout, Hunter complained that he had been robbed. His claims were 100% true, but what Hunter didn’t seem to understand was that the referee was only an accomplice on this night. The reality is that it was the Outlaw himself who robbed Eric Hunter of winning the title.   

Hunter waited eleven years for his first title shot, and his performance probably won’t produce another big opportunity anytime soon. Upon his return to the USA, Hunter hinted that he might not continue his career. With time, those feeling should fade. He’s always had the skill to compete with the best. He still does, but as he proved in London, that may not be enough.

   
 

 

 
 


John DiSanto - London - April 09, 2016
 

 
     
 

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