PHILLY BOXING HISTORY                                                                     December 08, 2012


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By John DiSanto
Photos by Gary Purfield


For many years Eric Hunter has been considered by many to be one of Philadelphia's best fighters. His early rise as a world class amateur suggested that his climb to the top of the heap as a professional was not only destined, but would be a rather easy trip. But after seven years in the pro ranks, Hunter seemed to be just another talented boxer failing to reach his potential. On Saturday night, Hunter took a major step in changing the direction of his career with a dominant handling of the previously undefeated junior lightweight Jerry Belmontes of Corpus Christi, Texas. His 10-round unanimous decision victory confirmed Hunter's potential, and even more importantly, displayed the fine fighting skills that he currently possesses. Instead of the future, Hunter supporters can finally talk about "now". 

Belmontes came to Philly as a highly touted 17-0 prospect, the betting favorite to extend his undefeated streak, and the fighter who could finally send Hunter away for good. But Eric Hunter, brushed off the chip he always carries on his shoulder, ignored the distrust he has of the world outside the boxing gym, and chose this night to stage his coming out party. His timing couldn't have been better.

With a rowdy North Philly crowd and a wide audience watching at home, Hunter took Belmontes to school in the ring. Despite a deep amateur resume of his own, the "Corpus Christi Kid" could not match skills with the West Philadelphian. Hunter sent his message early on, landing a few good hard shots to his opponent's head and working the body well.  Belmontes jabbed, but failed to land with significance, while Hunter attacked with his foot on the gas. More effective body work and a hard right hand found the mark as the first round ended. 

In the second round, Hunter continued to rake Belmontes' body with solid shots. Then as Belmontes opened up and tried a com-bination, Hunter let loose with a short counter left hook that knocked Belmontes to the floor.

The knockdown shocked Belmontes, who rose to his feet wide-eyed, but that expression would change to one of frustration as the fight wore on. Belmontes had moments in the fight, especially in rounds three and four, when he landed hard shots that snapped Hunter's head back. But this night was Hunter's. He embraced the moment, filtered his paranoia, and let his talent shine.

As Belmontes grew more frustrated, he tried pressing Hunter to the ropes. Jerry had some success, being the bigger and generally busier man. Belmontes held and wrestled Hunter, but Eric kept punching, especially to the body, and held his lead.

At times the fight got ragged. They exchanged low blows, and at one point, Hunter was warned by referee Gary Rosato for lifting Belmontes straight up in the air. But tempers never completely boiled over and the bottom line was that Hunter just brought too much skill.

By round eight, Hunter was feeling confident and showed it by taunting Belmontes, fooling around and showboating a bit. Belmontes couldn't make him pay, but one of Hunter's teammates read him the riot act after the fight in the dressing room.

After ten rounds, the judges awarded Hunter a wide-margin unanimous decision. Dewey LaRosa had the fight the closest at 97-92. James Condon scored it 99-91, and Alan Rubenstein had it 99-90. I scored the fight 98-91, giving Belmontes only the third and seventh rounds. Hunter had a two-point margin in the third round, due to the knockdown.

The win improved Hunter's record to 17-2 (9 KOs). Hopefully he will stay active and use this great win as a springboard for the rest of his career. After all that time Hunter seemed to be wasting, he's only 26 years old, the perfect age for a run at the big time.

Belmontes, who slipped to 17-1 (5 KOs), fought a hard fight and gained some good experience. He should be able to rebound from the loss after a little rest, and the birth of his second child in April.

Team Hunter: Naazim Richardson, Hunter, Hazma Muhammad and Barry Hunter

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John DiSanto - North Philly - December 08, 2012

Photos by Gary Purfield