Heavyweight Michael ‘The Bounty’ Hunter 18-1-1 (12) had to settle for a split draw in his WBA eliminator against veteran Alexander Povetkin 35-2-1 (24) in the co-feature to the Andy Ruiz Jr-Anthony Joshua rematch at the Diriyah Arena in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia on Saturday night.
Hunter, 31, started the fight fast, rocking Povetkin early in the opening round with a right hand and wrestling the 40-year-old Russian to the canvas.
Povetkin showed his poise to settle into the fight in the second round and in the third he started to find a home for his trademark left hooks while Hunter attacked his body in the fourth.
The hooks kept on coming in the fifth with Povetkin bloodying Hunter’s nose, but the Las Vegas resident took the punishment well to rally back in the later stages of the round.
Povetkin looked fatigued in the middle rounds but was still able to control the centre of the ring with his educated jab.
Hunter got his own jab going in the seventh before finding a home for his right cross in the eighth.
The ninth and 10th were close affairs punctuated by body shots before Hunter opened up in the 11th with a pair of right hooks and three hard rights that had Povetkin in trouble.
Both men traded hard blows in the 12th and final round to close out the show.
When the dust settled and the final scores were tallied, judge Yury Koptsev had it 115-113 for Povetkin, judge Stefano Carozza had it 115-113 for Hunter, while judge Glenn Feldman had the fight even at 114-114.
“I don’t make the scores, so I don’t know what to say,” said Hunter in his post-fight interview with Sky Sports.
“I just have to get back to drawing board. I thought I did enough (to win), but obviously the judges didn’t think so.
“I hope that we have another chance to fight him again. I don’t like to leave any stone unturned, so I definitely want to do it again.”
Povetkin praised Hunter for giving him a tough fight.
“I think it was a 50-50 fight,” Povetkin said. “I want to say that I appreciate (Hunter) for giving me a good rumble. I respect Michael very much, he’s a good guy.”
Hunter, who was having his seventh fight as a heavyweight, is ranked WBC number 14, WBA number seven, IBF number seven and WBO number eight.
Povetkin is rated WBC number six, WBA number six and IBF number 10.
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