Olympic Heavyweights: Michael Hunter Loses in “Countback” to Russian


By Charles Jay

Michael Hunter, the American heavyweight who was thought to have a chance going into his fight against Russia’s Artur Berterbiev, instead went down to a disappointing defeat as he blew the tie-breaker, under the rules which AIBA conducts its bouts.

Hunter is a slick type, who throws with some leverage. But he also has a tendency to tire sometimes, and he certainly did not have the same level of steam last two rounds that he did in the first. And as he did not have the vigor to move and box as much as he should have, he allowed Berterbiev, who is rated #12 in the world by AIBA, to wrestle and use his strength. Still, he did not get a clear advantage.

The fight was ruled a draw at 10-10. But then the tie-breaker came into play. The AIBA uses a system of “countback” to determine who wins in the event of a tie score, which means, in effect, that the officials start to count the instances where only two of the judges were in agreement about a landed punch, to see who has more.

Hunter cited a slight illness for his loss, but no one in particular cares. He had an opportunity to beat a rated opponent, and he lost. That was the bottom line.

Berterbiev, who is 27 years old, gets to face off against Oleksander Usyk of the Ukraine, who is rated #3 by AIBA. Berterbiev is well-credentialed, as a former world amateur champion (2000) and veteran of the 2008 Olympics, where he lost to Zhang Xiaoping, who eventually won the gold.

There were some medal hopes for Hunter, who has something of a pedigree. As a matter of fact, his father, Mike “The Bounty” Hunter, was a former NABF heavyweight champion who had one of the more unorthodox styles ever seen in the division.

The younger Hunter is more conventional, and should become a good pro. He has already done quite a bit of sparring with pros, and was in fact in camp with Wladimir Klitschko last year when the heavyweight champ was preparing for his bout against David Haye.

Hunter was precocious early on; in fact, he was a finalist in the National Golden Gloves at the age of 18. The next year he won the U.S. Championships and the Olympic Trials in the super heavyweight division, but failed to qualify for the Olympic Games themselves when the qualifier was held.

Hunter was a super heavyweight but decided to make the move down to the 201-pound limit and won the National Golden Gloves. This was the division that got him into the Olympics through the qualifying process. At the Trials he scored dominant wins over Steve Geffrard and Javonta Charles by a combined 26-point margin.

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