Michael Hunter dominated fellow contender Sergiy Kuzmin in New York as he continued his impressive march towards a heavyweight world title shot.
The 31-year old American, a former cruiserweight, came in over two-and-a-half stone lighter than Kuzmin and it proved pivotal as he bounced around the ring to skillfully beat his man to the punch over twelve rounds of action at the Madison Square Garden Theater.
Three scores of 117-110 saw Hunter take the Russian’s WBA Inter-Continental heavyweight title, putting him on the brink of a mega-fight in boxing’s prize division.
The slick ‘Bounty’ Hunter quickly got behind his jab in the opening periods, launching in with some well-crafted straight rights to take control, Kuzmin edging forward but struggling to match his counterpart’s output.
The third saw the powerful Russian force himself up close to land some short, thudding blows, but it did little to deter his younger foe, Hunter responding with sharp counters in the next to regain rule.
A huge crisp left hand then dumped the Saint Petersburg man on the canvas in the fifth and, on return to his feet, Kuzmin was immediately back playing second fiddle.
0:19 Hunter says that he wants to fight Alexander Povetkin on the Ruiz-Joshua 2 undercard in Saudi Arabia
Despite the occasional heavy left finding him flush, Hunter stayed in cruise control for the following rounds, crashing home class combinations with victory an ever-increasing certainty.
One of those left equalizers did hammer home at the end of a better eighth for Kuzmin, but ‘The Bounty’ fired back, uppercuts and quick hooks marking up the Russian’s left eye.
The unbeaten visitor rallied in the final minutes and valiantly met his man in the middle to take things to the scorecards.
Earlier in the night, Daniyar Yeleussinov produced an electrifying performance to score his fourth stoppage and improve his ledger to 8-0.