It made better business sense.
That’s Michael Hunter’s simple explanation for why he withdrew from an IBF heavyweight elimination match with Filip Hrgovic recently to fight an unknown, 38-year-old opponent on the Teofimo Lopez-George Kambosos Jr. undercard. Hunter has drawn criticism for pulling out of a fight that could’ve made him the IBF’s mandatory challenger for one of Anthony Joshua’s titles, but the American contender isn’t concerned about what’s being said or written about his 10-round pay-per-view fight with Mike Wilson on June 19 at loanDepot Park in Miami.
Wilson is 21-1, including 10 knockouts, but he has competed almost exclusively as a cruiserweight in 11 years as a professional. The Medford, Oregon, resident also lost his only fight against a top opponent, Denis Lebedev, by unanimous decision in November 2018.
Las Vegas’ Hunter (19-1-1, 13 KOs) discussed his decision to face Wilson instead of Croatia’s Hrgovic (12-0, 10 KOs) during an appearance Friday on SiriusXM’s “At The Fights,” co-hosted by Randy Gordon and Gerry Cooney.
“I still would like to fight [Hrgovic], you know, but, you know, when we’re talking about the business, Triller just gave me something that I could not deny,” Hunter explained, referring to Triller Fight Club, promoter of the Lopez-Kambosos card. “And, you know, we were definitely getting ready for Hrgovic. That was my only focus at the time, but, you know, like you said, when we’re talking about business – it’s always looked and frowned upon when the boxer does a good business move. They never really do that when, you know, there’s promoters making all sorts of bad business moves.
“They’re making so many of ‘em, you can’t really tell which ones are which. So, I think that, you know, they’re just mad that, you know, they, you know, didn’t get what they were, you know, hoping for. You know, to lowball me and, you know, to kind of, you know, get over on me. You know, I was just with DAZN not too long ago. So, you know, we’ve gotta make sure we play our cards right.”
Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing won a purse bid last month to earn the right to promote the Hrgovic-Hunter fight. Hunter’s 60-percent share of that winning bid of $606,666 would’ve paid him just about $364,000 for fighting the 6-feet-6, 240-pound Hrgovic, who won a bronze medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
The 32-year-old Hunter has been moved down from fourth to 11th in the IBF’s rankings since he withdrew from the Hrgovic fight. Hrgovic, who moved up to fourth from fifth in the IBF’s most recent ratings, will fight the next available leading contender now that Hunter has withdrawn from their eliminator.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.