In matching Eric “The Outlaw” Hunter (19-3, 9KOs) vs. Antonio Escalante (29-7, 20KOs) in a 10 round featherweight bout May 22, Memorial Day Weekend at Fantasy Springs Resort, Golden Boy is betting on an action packed main event live on FOX Sports 1 and FOX Deportes at 10:00 P.M. ET/ 7:00 P.M. PT. However, when it comes to the realities of life inside and outside the ring, prospect Eric Hunter has always made a point of betting on himself – especially when the chips are down and the stakes are life and death.
As an alternate on the 2004 U.S. Olympic team, back in his hometown of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Hunter got caught up protecting those who could not protect themselves when an all too real “outlaw” existence struck home and took root. When both his mother and father fell hard to drug addiction, it was Eric as the oldest of his mother’s children who had to take charge of his younger brother and sister’s lives to prevent their slip into a childhood of true ruin. “I never did drugs a day in my life,” recounts Hunter solemnly, adding: “I never smoke, I never drink, I never did none of those things.” Nevertheless, in the twisted irony that thrives in the ugliest of circumstances, Hunter found himself selling the very drugs that had destroyed the nucleus of his family in order to save the most precious cargo: “ I had to make some money,” said Hunter sadly. “I had to take care of my brother and sister.” “ Hunter stated darkly but truthfully as a bare bones quantification of the difficult times lost and hard choices made outside of the ring between the 2004 Olympics and now as a professional.
Despite these considerable challenges, in an existence that would have sucked many deep down into a murky sea from which there are no good exits, Hunter saw the light at the end of the tunnel and followed it back to the greener pastures he had glimpsed before in the best of his amateur days. “I just woke up one day and I said I don’t want to do this no more. I just want to fight, “ remembers Hunter of his clean break from the streets versus the gym. “I had to make a choice - sell drugs, getting in fights, job, going to jail or fight. And I picked the one that I know I can really fight… I’m going to keep going and I’m going to become world champion. So I picked that. I picked the fighting,” Hunter says with pride and conviction.
Indeed, since rededicating himself to boxing, things have been going well for Hunter. With only three losses on his professional record out of 19 wins, Hunter claims that he has more power than his record of 9 KOs suggests: “We’re fighting 10 to 12 rounds now…I’m still learning when you got a guy hurt… you want to get him out of there. I can definitely punch,” said Hunter eagerly in regards to what he wants to showcase in his Fantasy Springs battle and beyond.
As for those who regard Hunter’s record with skepticism when compared to that of the more seasoned Escalante with his impressive record of 20 KOs and exactly ten more wins than Hunter, Hunter is quick to point out that even though Escalante has fought bigger names with Daniel Ponce De Leon (45-7, 35KOs) , Rocky Juarez (30-11-1, 21 KOs) and Leonilo Miranda (36-7-1, 33KOs)topping that list, the overall story is negative for Escalante when it comes to a real ability and experience. “(Escalante) don’t got nobody on his record cause everybody that he fought (Ponce De Leon, Juarez) that got a name (Escalante) got knocked out… So how can I say (Escalante) got all this experience when (Escalante) got knocked out by everybody he fought?” said Hunter testily. For those who point out that Escalante actually got the win over Miranda, Hunter is equally dismissive of not just Escalante but also Miranda in the no holds barred fashion that only a fresh prospect can exhibit: “in that fight (Escalante) was about to get knocked out… and Miranda he get knocked out all the time too,” crowed Hunter, adding as a hasty rejoinder to cushion the blows,“ I’m just being honest.” Perhaps. But Miranda only got KOed 3 times - definitely not all the time in a career of 36 fights. However it would seem that Escalante fought a lot of his bigger names once they have been past their prime and still lost. Nevertheless, boxing is boxing. Always unpredictable - especially when it comes to prospects - which is what also makes it great.
With regard to whom Hunter would like next if he is successful against Escalante, he doesn’t miss a beat. “ Gradovich (Evgeny Gradovich 19-0-1, 9KOs) . He’s good and I’m right here,” stated Hunter with confidence. “I’m working… every time out.”
Hopefully we’ll all get to see an eventful hard days work this time out come Friday, May 22 from both Escalante and the entirely self made Eric Hunter.
Written by Kylie Krabbe
Photos by Kylie Krabbe
May 21st 2015