Michael Hunter never felt like he was part of the family during his tenure under Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing promotional banner.
The American heavyweight from Las Vegas has since signed with boxing upstart Triller. Hunter will headline Triller’s new monthly boxing series – TrillerVerz Boxing – at the Hulu Theatre at Madison Square Garden in New York City on Aug. 3 in a 10-round bout against Mike Wilson. Hunter believes he will be getting the sort of institutional support he lacked while working with Hearn.
Hunter’s deal with Hearn's Matchroom ran for three fights, all in 2019, during which he scored wins over Fabio Maldonado and Sergey Kuzmin, while drawing with Alexander Povetkin, after which Matchroom elected not to re-sign him.
“I peaked at Matchroom Boxing,” Hunter said in an interview on The SI Boxing Podcast.”I kind of knew that. Them letting me go was a tell tale sign that I had outgrown them.
“I just felt like I wasn’t really obviously a fighter like Dillian Whyte or a guy that was really embraced by Matchroom. I was really a guy that just went to work. They called me and I didn’t really have a say so in who or what or when to fight. You know, I fought harder fights than [Matchroom signee] Filip Hrgovic and I was on the undercard. I fought below them, when I easily could have fought him at that point. That’s what I kind of mean that I kind of outgrown it, I had worn out my stock and it came to a point where they were going to have to fully embrace me and give me some type of opportunity.”
Hunter (19-1-1, 13 KOs) pointed out that Matchroom would not have been able to go ahead with their two matches between Dillian Whyte and Alexander Povetkin, if Hunter had not drawn with Povetkin, in December 2019, on the undercard of Andy Ruiz-Anthony Joshua heavyweight title rematch.
“You know my rankings had gone up there, and they barely got on with the Dillian Whyte and Povetkin fight [because of my draw with Povetkin],” said Hunter. “I basically allowed that fight to happen. Dillian Whyte wouldn’t have had [any] fights if I didn’t [draw with Povetkin]. Yeah, I had outgrown [Matchroom]. It was time to move on.”
Hunter is keen on his new deal with Triller, the music app that has made recent inroads in the sport by promoting the lucrative exhibition match between Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr., as well as launching the fight career of YouTube star Jake Paul. For a while, however, it was slim pickings.
“I didn’t really have too many options,” Hunter said of the period after he was cut from Matchroom. “Top Rank, their forté isn’t really heavyweight fighters, especially African-American heavyweight fighters. PBC [Premier Boxing Champions] I had already been with. I didn't have too much of an option. My thing was always to continue to fight as many fights as I can on a solo basis and try to find a way to get these big fights.”