By Matt Winsper



Hunter–Kaya European Preview

This Friday at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool, England, European Super-bantamweight Champion Michael Hunter continues his busy year with another defence, this time against French veteran Tuncay Kaya. After winning the title (plus the Commonwealth and, previously, the British belts to boot) with a thrilling upset decision over world ranked Esham Pickering in October of last year, Hunter has kept busy with two early stoppages in title defences against Yersin Jailauov in March and then German Guartos in April. With this third straight defence, Hunter aims to inch a step closer to a world title shot. He is already ranked no. 8 by the WBC, no. 10 by the WBA and no.4 by the IBF, so every title defence is of the utmost importance now.

Hunter, who has ran up an impressive 25-0-1 record is also boxing with more confidence and power. Despite only scoring 11 inside distance wins, he has stopped his last two opponents, which is certainly impressive for a non-hitter at European title level. The Jailauov victory, however, was denounced as being highly premature.

Whatever, 28 yr old Hunter has come a long way since toiling in six and eight rounders on the leisure centre circuit around Britain. His non-stop pressure tactics have won him many fans in his home town of Hartlepool in the working man’s North East of England. His honest approach to boxing and his exciting style have made him something of a cult favourite. When beating Pickering in their triple title showdown, Hunter came off the floor twice in the early rounds to chip away at the slick switch hitter, outworking and outhustling the world-ranked contender to nick a close win. That Pickering was due to face Valdemir Pereira for the IBF featherweight title on the recent Hatton-Collazo show (before pulling out injured seeing Eric Aiken seize the opportunity) speaks volumes of Hunter’s performance and his world class aspirations.

Onto his opponent. Kaya is a 29 year old veteran of 37 fights, including 23 wins, ten losses and four draws. He has mixed in fairly good class, beating a few good fighters along the way, but mostly losing to the higher class ones. Recently, he won a six round verdict over popular bantamweight buzz-saw Johnny Armour, who was one of Britain’s best little guys in the 90’s…but lost to unbeaten prospect Zsolt Nagy of Hungary last time out. He has also gone six and eight rounds with recently retired WBA titlist Mayhar Monshipour, lasted the distance with European Bantamweight champ Simone Maludrotti, and drew over 6 with former world titlist (and now veteran journeyman) Yober Ortega. There are plenty of European standard names dotted on the little Frenchman’s record, but nothing to make me think he can beat an in-form Michael Hunter. He may, however, stay with the champion and make things competitive for him.

A rematch with Pickering and a possible future title shot are in the offing for Hunter, and I can’t see him slip up here in front of his fans.

The Pick: “Kaya has been around a lot of good fighters over the years, and will know just what to expect from Hunter. The Frenchman is used to rough tactics, being able to use them a little himself, and will not be fazed by Hunter’s early pressure. However, as the fight goes on, the Englishman’s youth and class will tell, and Kaya will struggle to keep the pace. He will use his experience to get through the late rounds and will limp to the finish line for a credible but fairly wide points loss, edging Hunter ever-closer to a big fight in an interesting division.”
Hunter UD