By Jake Donovan
Devin Haney isn’t the only DAZN fighter who can look forward to a Las Vegas homecoming. in September.
Streaking heavyweight contender Michael Hunter will finally get a home game for his next ring adventure, which will come versus unbeaten Russian prospect Sergey Kuzmin. The crossroads heavyweight clash will take place in mid-September in Las Vegas, serving in supporting capacity to a DAZN-streamed show featuring Haney (22-0, 14KOs) in a title eliminator versus Russia’s Zaur Abdullaev (11-0, 7KOs).
The working date for the event is September 14, although promoter Eddie Hearn—whose Matchroom Boxing USA outfit houses Hunter and Haney—plans to reveal final details in the coming days.
News of the bout was confirmed to BoxingScene.com by Hunter, who declined comment on further details as the show has yet to be formally announced.
Hunter (17-1, 12KOs) gained notoriety in a big way earlier this year, all for a fight that never happened. He was among the first names mentioned as a replacement for the U.S. debut of then-unbeaten heavyweight titlist Anthony Joshua after originally scheduled foe Jarrell Miller was pulled due to testing positive for multiple banned substances.
The second-generation boxer—whose father and namesake was a mid-level heavyweight contender in the late 1980s and early 1990s—was removed from the mix, however, as event handlers sought a bigger name. They landed on Andy Ruiz Jr., who shocked the world with an off-the-canvas 7th round knockout of Joshua to win the heavyweight crown.
Not all was lost in the career of Hunter, however. In signing with Matchroom Boxing USA earlier this year—in fact right around the time of the initial Joshua-Miller fallout—he landed on a DAZN show this past May, on the undercard of a Haney-headlined card. Both left the MGM National Harber in Oxon Hill, Md. as knockout winners, with Hunter scoring a 2nd round stoppage of Fabio Maldanado to extend his current five-fight win streak.
The lone loss of his career came at that very venue more than two years ago, dropping a hard-fought but clear decision to then-World cruiserweight king Oleksandr Usyk in April 2017. Hunter has since moved up to heavyweight, where the entirety of his current win streak has taken place.
Kuzmin (15-0, 11KOs) undoubtedly rates as the best of his post-Usyk opposition, although the fight is very much a coin-toss matchup. The 32-year old from Russia—who is managed by Vadim Kornilov—made his own DAZN debut this past March, though failing to impress in a 10-round majority decision win over scrappy Philadelphia (Pa.) pug Joey Dawejko.
The former gifted amateur—whose 227-23 record includes a 32-second knockout of Joe Joyce in the 2013 European National Championships semifinals—has spent most of his young pro career divided between the U.S. and Russia. His most notable win to date, however, came in London, England, albeit in anticlimactic fashion as he was forced to settle for a 4th round injury stoppage of hulking heavyweight David Price.
His upcoming bout with Hunter will mark Kuzmin’s first career fight in Las Vegas. For Hunter, it’s his first fight in his hometown since 2016 and just fourth overall.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox