Richard Quiñones (Journeymen Boxing) – As Philadelphia featherweight Eric “The Outlaw” Hunter gets set to take on Lee Selby for Selby’s IBF featherweight title Saturday night at the O2 Arena in London, he not only will be carrying a big chip on his shoulder but also the notion that once again he has been disrespected as a boxer, a sentiment he believes has followed him around his entire career.
The slated 12-round affair will be on the Charles Martin-Anthony Joshua undercard, and highlights of the bout will be shown on Showtime’s telecast beginning at 5PM.
A extremely talented boxer, Hunter (21-3, 11ko’s) seems to be coming into his own, after several years of trying to find the right people in his corner inside the ring and outside of it, he has started to settle down and it has shown in some recent wins.
The local knock on Hunter in Philly goes something like this. “He is a good boxer, great talent, but could never keep it together between the ears, he finds a way to self-destruct”. A sentiment echoed by several others in the boxing world.
“His MO is when he runs second, he looks for ways out, more than once in his career, remember I had him,” said longtime matchmaker Ron Katz Tuesday.
Another east coast promoter I spoke to on Tuesday did not hold back any punches when speaking about the talented Hunter.
“The kid has all the tools to be a great boxer, but he is just an immature kid, you can’t bounce around from manager to manager and always blame someone else. Eventually you have to look in the mirror, and realize maybe it is you,” the veteran promoter said.
Another Philly based manager, who had close ties with Hunter in the past said “The kid is just a headcase. He will always be one of those “Could have been” boxers we talk about coming out of Philly, but it will stop there.”
The criticisms of Hunter have been loud over the years — some of them justified — but one thing can not be denied.
When he puts it all together, Hunter is a skilled and sound boxer, who just might be hitting his stride and just might bring a title back to Philadelphia.
After a horrible DQ loss against Mike Oliver back in 2013, Hunter came roaring back with a dominating performance over Yenifel Vicente for the than vacant USBA featherweight title. He followed up that win by dismantling Daniel Ramirez and two fights later, scored a KO win over Antonio Escalante last May.
With each win, Hunter seemed to grow as a boxer and he looked more confident and mature in the ring. An aggressive fighter, Hunter has been able to use his head more then his punching power.
Take the fight against Vicente, who tried to bully Hunter and get under his skin.
It did not work, as Hunter showed great poise and patience in picking apart the highly touted Dominican in a lop-sided win.
However, those old feelings of being slighted reared their ugly head on Monday.
“They had an open workout for Selby and didn’t have one for me,”the 29-year-old said. “I’m kind of irritated about that. It’s not even fair to the fans, you know? I have no choice but to use it as fuel for even more motivation”
That slight might have promoted Hunter to go after Selby.
“He’s a runner, we know he’s a runner, he boxes and runs away,” Hunter told Sky Sports on Monday.
“He’s not really fought anyone yet. He fought (former IBF champion) Evgeny Gradovich, who has not really been the same since he fought Billy Dib. He just walked forward with his hands up,” he added.
A 29-year-old Welshman, Selby (22-1, 8ko’s), is coming off a stellar win his last time out over Fernando Montiel (54-5-2, 39ko’s), but believes he could have done better.
“I did good in parts and not so good in others, and I think a lot of that was because of the quality of my opponent. Hunter is a strong fighter but nothing like Montiel,” said Selby. “With Montiel, I had to take my time and work him out, which I did, but I plan to be a lot more aggressive from the first bell against Hunter.”
Never shy from engaging in words with his opponent, Selby fired back at Hunter.
“First thing I’m looking forward to is shutting Hunter up, as he clearly has a mouth a lot bigger than his talent,” he said to SkySports. “Hunter has got a big gob, but can he box to the level I have been for many years? I don’t think so,”
Trash talk aside, both men will find out who the better boxer is come Saturday night.
A win for Hunter will his critics and Selby eat their words, but more importantly it might just erase once and for all the “He is a great boxer, but” rap that has dogged him his entire career.