Michael Hunter is much more familiar with Mike Wilson than most boxing fans.
Hunter beat Wilson on points in an Olympic qualifying tournament 14 years ago. The heavyweight contender remembers Wilson as a nationally acclaimed amateur in their weight class, a fighter that defeated a lot of opponents who became successful pros.
The 38-year-old Wilson’s pro career hasn’t been nearly as fruitful as Hunter’s, but he can earn another important bout by upsetting Hunter in their 10-round heavyweight fight Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater in New York.
Wilson (21-1, 10 KOs), of Medford, Oregon, mostly has competed as a cruiserweight since he turned pro in August 2009. He’ll encounter Hunter, also a former cruiserweight, in the division within which Hunter has become a credible contender.
Fite.tv will stream Hunter-Wilson as the main event of a free five-fight show scheduled to start at 7 p.m. EDT.
“I respect him as a fighter,” Hunter told BoxingScene.com. “When I was coming up, you’d look on the USA Boxing website and you’d see Mike Wilson was number one in his weight class. So, that’s a face I’m very familiar with. I was following that face for quite some time as a kid. I did fight him in the amateurs, so we do have some history. He knows the type of fighter I am and I know the type of fighter he is.”
Wilson has won both of his fights since he lost a one-sided, 12-round unanimous decision to Russian southpaw Denis Lebedev (32-3, 23 KOs, 1 NC) in November 2018. Hunter, 33, will fight for the second time since his 12-round split draw with former WBA heavyweight champ Alexander Povetkin (36-3-1, 25 KOs) in December 2019.
Hunter, a 2012 U.S. Olympian, and Wilson were supposed to fight June 19 at loanDepot Park in Miami. All of the fights on that card were postponed because undefeated, unified lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez tested positive for COVID-19 on June 15 and withdrew from his mandatory title defense against George Kambosos Jr.
“You know, we both have families and this is not just gonna be a walk in the park,” Hunter said. “He has a lot to fight for. When you’re like that and you’re ready to leave it all on the line for your family and kids, it’s never gonna be easy for anyone to get you out of there. I know that this is gonna be a difficult fight for me, but I do feel very confident that all the hard work has been done, all the plotting and planning has been seeded, and we’re gonna get the job done for sure.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.