By Matt Winsper



Michael Hunter, the European super-bantamweight champion, notched up his third straight defence of the belt, and also got his third straight stoppage in a row with a ninth round KO of gritty Frenchman Tuncay Kaya.

Hunter had been given a rough ride by the veteran challenger for 8 and a half rounds...but suddenly the Hartlepool fan favourite decided to go to the body, and a single shot to the Frenchman’s abdomen put him down and out for the count. Hunter, who has began to develop a reputation as a decent hitter after mostly going the distance early in a now 26-0-2 (11) career, pounded his opponent’s head for most of the fight. Kaya, however, was rough, ready and determined, doing his best to stay with the fresh 28 year old champion, and landing a few meaty right crosses of his own. The excited crowd at the Blackpool Winter Gardens enjoyed an honest fight between two guys who refused to take a backwards step. Kaya may not have been a world class boxer, but he gave his all. After eight rounds, it looked like Hunter would have to go the distance, but then one body shot later it was suddenly over.

Hunter, who won the title from world ranked Esham Pickering last year, has now notched up all three of his defences since April, marking an impressive and busy year for him. He is ranked in the top ten by all three sanctioning bodies...the WBC, WBA and IBF, which makes him a good bet for a big title fight sometime in the next year or two if he can maintain this form.

However, Kaya, who has fought many good names, losing to most of them, had a good opening round, landing several clubbing shots as Hunter tried to press the action. Sensing this, the champion opted to box a little more in the 2nd, but Kaya kept pushing forwards in his awkwardly effective way.

Finally, in the third, Hunter settled and began to take control of the fight. Accurate and hurtful combinations rattled the head of the former French national champion...but the challenger still kept trundling forwards, lobbing wide right hands over the top and trying to bull Hunter backwards. It was messy, however, and Hunter clearly took the round.

From the 4th to the 8th, the European champion grabbed the lead, landing stinging punches and rocking back Kaya’s head...but it seemed as if Hunter would be forced to go the full twelve round distance this time around.

Then came the ninth round and a hearty body punch landed on Kaya’s mid section, folding him up on the canvas as referee Erkki Meronen issued the ten count.

Hunter, who also owns the British and Commonwealth belts, took another step forwards towards a possible world title fight, and his exciting style and new found power could make him a star attraction for his English fans. Especially thrilling would be a European title defence against recently deposed WBA champ Mahyar Monshipour, who also has a non-stop style and decent power. However, the Iranian-Frenchman announced his retirement following his loss to Thai puncher Somsak Sithchatchawal, leaving little doubt that Hunter is currently the finest super bantamweight in Europe.