BELMONTES IN HUNTER'S CROSSHAIR
Press Release: When Teon Kennedy sustained an injured knee last month and had to withdraw from his fight with Jerry Belmontes on Dec. 8th at Philadelphia's Temple University, it opened the door for a fellow Philadelphian. Eric Hunter is talented but his career was on a treadmill going nowhere, so he jumped at the chance to fight on national television in front of his hometown fans. Hunter, 24, had an impressive amateur career and he is 16-2 with 9 KOs, as a pro.
The ten-round junior lightweight fight between Hunter and Belmontes will serve as the co-feature to the heavyweght tussle between Bryant Jennings and Bowie Tupou. The two fights will be televised on NBC Sports Network Fight Night beginning at 10pm (EST).
"I had about 200 amateur fights," he said. "I won the National PAL, Junior Olympics, Golden Gloves, Diamond Belts, all that. I got a couple of titles under my belt."
Hunter's nickname is "Outlaw" because, he says, "I didn't care how I won when I was kid. I just fought everybody."
After turning pro in 2005, Hunter racked up five quick wins, then he was idle for 10 months before fighting Carlos Vinan, of Newark, NJ, early in 2007. Hunter dropped Vinan early in the fight but faded down the stretch and lost a six-round split decision.
Two weeks later he fought again, winning the first of 10 straight fights despite another one-year gap in activity from mid-2008 to mid-2009. After beating lefty Andre Wilson, of St. Joseph, MO, in 2010, Hunter landed his first TV assignment against Cuban Luis Franco, but was disqualified in the eighth round for low blows.
"I took it hard," Hunter said. "On TV and a guy I shoulda beat. I think I really should have won that fight. Honestly, it was an easy fight for me. But you take fights on short notice (six days) and take the opponent lightly, that's what happens.
"Listening to people that you think have your best interests at heart (is what hurt me). That's what messed me up. Thinking they were going to move me. Being manipulated. (Letting) people draw you in instead of having your own mind. But now I just have to grow. Right now I'm gonna right my wrongs. That's what I'm gonna do."
Hunter was idle for 19 months after losing to Franco. He returned last July 7 and stopped Jason Rorie, of Winston-Salem, NC, in two rounds at the Convention Center in Philadelphia.
"That was my pro debut (against Rorie) as far as I'm concerned," Hunter said. "Now I have to do what I was supposed to do.
"My talent is real, real high. But I'm not proven. Maybe it's the people I associate with, or used to associate with. Maybe it's a lot of things why I'm not a world champion right now.'
"I want to show now that I'm busy and that I want to go to the top. I figure I'm one of the best fighters in Philly. You got a lot of great fighters out there. You got Mike Jones, Teon Kennedy, Danny Garcia, Hank Lundy, Karl Dargan. You got a lot of guys who came up with me and I should be right there (with them). So I'm back to the drawing board."
When he got the call to fill-in for Kennedy, Hunter did not hesitate to take on Belmontes (17-0, 5 K0s), of Corpus Christi, TX.
"I'm always in the gym and I'm blessed with this opportunity," he said.