“I can’t disrespect this sport. I come from generations of fighters or people who’ve been around the game for years. It’s an art form in there, and it’s more than a sport to me. It’s my life.”
Michael Hunter II
There’s a difference between being taught how to box and just knowing how to fight. To be great at anything requires instinct- or that which cannot be taught. You are born with this, and certain qualities can lead the rare to that place some come to know as: “legend”.
Whether or not Michael Hunter II (the elder Michael Hunter eschewed “Jr.”) will even remotely come close to this remains to be seen. The promise of potential- like promises themselves; is often broken.
Take the Olympic Games in China or London for example; which were both disappointing to Michael, 25, for different reasons. But over the course of roughly 120 amateur bouts (winning 102), Hunter showed enough promise to attract the attention of prominent business magnet Jared Weiss. A promise which prompted Weiss to delve into the shark infested waters of boxing- with no previous history of managing fighters. The stated purpose is to make history.
But if history does one thing we can all be sure of, it will repeat itself, and a truly great American heavyweight prospect has not emerged from out of nowhere since Mike Tyson.
Someone will step forward to take the mantel of the Klitschko’s, and I wanted to find out if Hunter had a chance at this. So I went hunting this past Sunday and mashed a few numbers on the cell.
This is how it went down.
JG: I figure if Zou Shiming just went 2-0 and came out like a rockstar the other night, it’s not too early to talk about you right? (laughing)
MHII: Exactly! He looked pretty good though to be just two fights in at pro. I feel like I want to be like Leon Spinks. You know he had around 10 fights or so before he was challenging Ali, and if I go about my business the right way, I feel like I can get in the discussion.
JG: What have you done to give you that type of confidence?!? You sound like you want it with the Klitschko’s right now! Have you sparred with them?
MHII: (laughing and slowly regaining composure between chuckles) Actually I have sparred with both of them.
JG: Who else?
MHII: Eddie Chambers, David Haye… Andre Dirrell a few years back. Chad Dawson… Quite a few guys you would probably know. But I had encounters with them I’ll never forget.
JG: Tell me about the differences between them and who was better.
MHII: Well Vitali was beginning to show his age to me, but by no means was I dominant. My game is movement and angles, and I had an easier time executing against him. He was very, very strong- but I could time him and box him easier. Wladimir was different. Way more difficult.
JG: How so?
MHII: He doesn’t spar like you see him fight. He’s far busier and super aggressive. He was sending guys home. Emanuel Steward (the late training great) molded something in him and he’s got different gears. I was very surprised.
JG: Interesting. But Wladimir is very cerebral, and I saw him thinking he needed to be somewhere else watching Seth Mitchell on the undercard of Broner/Malignaggi. Mitchell was also an outstanding football player, which I think has somewhat hindered his progression as a pro. Have you played other sports or just committed to boxing?
MHII: I played basketball, but my focus has been nothing but boxing.
JG: In listening to you, you sound like a craftsman, who appreciates the nuances of the sport. I know you’ve been spending a lot of time with Jeff Mayweather… But what do you think has primarily influenced your style?
MHII: My uncle, Kevin Henry, has meant a lot to me. My trainer Kenny Croom, we put in a lot of work at The Hit Factory here in Vegas. I look at a lot of old school techniques. Jersey Joe Walcott, Ezzard Charles, Hopkins. The smart guys…
JG: Now you got a fight on 8/30 in San Diego right? (He answers “Yes”) Distractions have killed many a career before it’s ever come alive. When Floyd says, “Hard work! Dedication!” we know this isn’t just a game. He means it. Do you live by this mantra?
MHII: I can’t disrespect this sport. I come from generations of fighters or people who’ve been around the game for years. It’s an art form in there, and it’s more than a sport to me. It’s my life.
JG: What are you going to do when we get off the phone?
MHII: Oh man you got me ready to go put in work right now!
JG: Go get it…
I like his chances.