Michael Hunter becomes first to inflict defeat on Martin Bakole
Injured Bakole didn't want to continue but trainer convinced him to continue
2012 US Olympian Michael Hunter gate-crashed the thriving heavyweight scene with a thrilling tenth-round stoppage over heavyweight prospect Martin Bakole at Bethnal Green’s iconic York Hall on Saturday night.
Hunter maintained his unbeaten campaign as a heavyweight and secured the vacant IBO Inter-Continental title for his efforts.
The former world cruiserweight title challenger, who conceded a three-stone weight advantage to the Congolese heavyweight, was the pre-fight underdog despite his sole defeat in the professional ranks coming at the hands of history-making Oleksandr Usyk, one of the best active fighters on the planet.
Both boxers started the contest in aggressive fashion, with heavy leather being exchanged early. It became apparent from the opening bell that Bakole was in no mood to establish a jab and make full use of the reach advantage he enjoyed over Hunter, but instead absorb the American’s power punches and walk him down.
By round four, the 26-year-old Billy Nelson trained fighter had stopped marching forward as relentlessly and was pushed back to the ropes frequently by the smaller man Hunter.
As the fight continued, it was evident to see Bakole became over-reliant on swinging hooks as the Las-Vegas born Hunter was boxing to a much more disciplined gameplan, devised by none other than trainer and former world heavyweight champion Hasim Rahman, who once shocked Lennox Lewis to rid him of his world titles.
A change in the tide looked to be on the cards at the end of the seventh round as the Scotland-based heavyweight seemingly rocked Hunter with a powerful right hand, but the American was saved by the bell.
Bakole looked to continue his late assault in the fight with a promising display in round eight, with Hunter at this time sporting a cut above his left eye.
The ninth round saw the 26-year-old Cyclone Promotions prospect struggle with an injury that prevented him from throwing the right hand and as such, Hunter began to take over the fight once again.
The contest was a shoot-out from the opening bell and this rhetoric did not disappear as the fight drew on.
Bakole’s ability to withstand further punishment appeared to diminish in the final round as a powerful onslaught of punches from the multi-time US national champion sent him crashing back to the ropes and being rendered defenseless as he struggled to pick his injured right arm up, which saw Hunter earn a last-round TKO victory.
Hunter's victory will inevitably elevate his name in the rankings for a big fight next and Bakole will need to go back to the drawing board for a serious rebuild.
Other title action on the card saw bantamweight prospect 'Lightning' Lee McGregor (5-0), 21 from Edinburgh, clinch the vacant Commonwealth title in just his fifth pro outing against Cameroon-born Thomas Essomba (8-5), 30 from Ryhope, by way of a 12th round knockout.
Bournemouth’s promising cruiserweight prospect Chris Billam-Smith (7-0) captured a seventh consecutive victory as his opponent Robin Dupre (13-2), hailing from Dagenham, retired at the end of the fifth round to land the mandatory spot for the coveted Commonwealth title, about to be contested between Wadi Camacho and unbeaten Arfan Iqbal on November 17.
Three JE Promotions fighters all scored wins - Grant Dennis (12-1) with a 48-second KO, and Lenny Fuller (3-0) and Martin Hillman (11-6) in points wins.
Northampton’s Chantelle Cameron (8-0) retained the IBO World lightweight crown with a convincing points victory over Mexican former world title challenger Jessica Gonzalez (7-5-2). The IBO champion almost became the first person to inflict a stoppage on her opponent, with an uppercut flooring Gonzalez in the seventh segment. The 27-year-old edges closer to future unification fights, including the potential clash with Irish sensation Katie Taylor.
Fleet’s Aaron Collins (4-0) extended his unbeaten record as he comprehensively outpointed Dylan Draper (0-20). The 26-year-old welterweight pushed Draper back for the duration of the contest, who himself appeared not particularly keen to engage.
Southampton’s Jack Hillier (3-0) claimed a third-round stoppage win over Polish southpaw Kamil Jaworek (5-11) as he amounted his third successive victory in the paid ranks.
Controversial welterweight Louis Adolphe (9-1), fighting out of Tooting, easily outpointed tough journeyman William Warburton (26-143-10), as the 26-year-old picked up a second win since the shock first-round disqualification he suffered last October.