Do you know when people put a lot of eggs in one basket? In fact, all of them? That’s what seemed to happen here, in Trillerverz IV’s main event, Michael ‘The Bounty’ Hunter versus Jerry ‘Slugger’ Forrest. Hunter is a Ring Magazine Top 10 Heavyweight man and WBA No.2 ranked, looking to move up. ‘Slugger’ Forrest isn’t, but he is a hard-hitting southpaw who has good experience. This was not going to be a simple fight for Hunter. He realized that during the Trillerverz IV main event, but didn’t seem to do much about it.
I’ve got a Triller Fight Club subscription and I’m looking forward to their mixing it up, media v media. Trillerverz IV sounded interesting. Triad Combat featured Metallica, Trillerverz IV promised a rap battle between Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, who we were reminded won an Oscar! 15 years ago…And Three 6 Mafia. Interesting, the way they mix it up.
Not much of an exciting ring walk here, it resembled DAZN, which is fine for that boxing-focussed promotion but not so good for an event-based company like Triller. The red and black design is nice, but the atmos isn’t popping. This had a co-main event at the Hammerstein Ballroom, Cassius Chaney v George Arias was on first, more of that another time, but those names aren’t heard on many lips at the moment.
Let’s say one thing immediately. It seemed as though the Trillerverz IV commentary team was sold on Hunter.
Why not, he’s the likeliest to move into the title contendership, the one most likely to look good, the one who you’d look to score a KO. That’s all good for the TV program. Forrest came out to spoil that party. Cancel the cake, put the party poppers away, this was not a coronation. Or a conflagration. Forrest was looking for opportunities, he was the more urgent, the one proactive, Hunter calmly regarded him, then connected with a right uppercut that wobbled his opponent. That action may have convinced him it wasn’t going to be tough.
Hunter continued to look unperturbed in the 2nd, a punch from Forrest got to him, the commentary team called it a rabbit punch but it didn’t look like one. There were the first of many worries that Hunter has his hands very low. This was the round Forrest took a good look at and realized he wasn’t afraid of what was in front of him – he now eased into the fight. And after he looked more comfortable in the next round, the commentary team suggested Hunter may have received a punch, perhaps to the bicep, which slowed him down. Not sure about that.
Forrest certainly had more pep in the 4th and even though Hunter was getting through when he threw with intention, it wasn’t enough. In fact, Forrest smacked him with a straight left. When Hunter connected with some clubbing blows and Forrest just stopped and told the ref a blow was low, Hunter backed off and let him! Where was that killer instinct?
By the 5th of 10 in this Trillerverz IV main event, Forrest was getting through with more shots and the commentary team were bigging Hunter up even as he was being tagged; their advice to Hunter? ‘I suggest that he moves around’. Well, that would be a way to stop shipping shots. Something odd happened before the 6th. They were ready to go and Hunter coughed, then gagged, then seemed to heave a little. The round started, but was he ill? Was that the reason for the torpor?
In this round, Forrest was hit with a right hand but walked through it, the commentators insistent that ‘something’s gotta hurt him’, almost willing it to happen. I believe he felt Hunter’s power and inwardly smiled. But things got more difficult for Forrest in round 7. He took a punch and executed an odd bunny hop, then touched down with both gloves. Was that a delayed reaction knockdown? Did he trip? No knockdown ruled. The word was that it may have been a cuff rather than a punch which is why it was no knockdown; hmmm…
Forrest just went straight back to the jab, he wasn’t phased in the slightest and although Hunter was trying a little more to make something happen, he labored, no real groove, it all seemed clunky. By the 8th Forrest, looking increasingly confident, caught Hunter coming in to try to make something work, too slow and far too open, with no movement and little thought except to throw. By now Hunter had swelling under both eyes and Forrest’s face looked clean, a story of the fight, heavy hands v not enough movement.
Even in the last round, Forrest kept coming forward, mixing it up, and enjoying getting a little dirty. He was still landing as the bell rang for the end of the fight which made the commentary comment ‘what resiliency from Michael Hunter’ ring hollow. Surely Forrest had just taken that fight.
96-94 for either man from 2 judges. And 95-95 for the other.
A draw. That was a shame. There should have been a winner and it should have been Jerry Forrest, he was doing more work and hitting punches, Hunter got through too but just didn’t do the work.
What Does This Mean For Both Men?
For Forrest, it burnishes his reputation as a time-served heavy hitter. Will he have any kind of run from this? Unlikely, but he may be a go-to opponent for keep-busy heavyweights and after being expected to capitulate to losing, seeing his confidence growing round by round was a beautiful thing.
Hunter? Oh man, that was a bad night. Was he ill? He certainly didn’t fancy a fight.
Forrest isn’t by any means great, but Hunter made him look good. He had no rhythm, no snap to the punches, no threat. In a currently busy heavyweight picture, you cannot take a night off. And this was the Hammerstein Ballroom. Trillerverz IV. Triller shouts loudly about their fights. It looked bad. And Hunter will have to go back to a drawing board. Sky Sports summed it up; ‘Michael Hunter struggled to a split decision draw with Jerry Forrest as the American heavyweight contender clung onto his hopes of securing a world title shot.’
Maybe he will get a shot. But not because he can mix it up, more because of business – surely he doesn’t want that. He told Sky Sports last month that he wanted a rematch with Oleksander Usyk; ‘The fact that it’s in Usyk’s hands and it might stay there, it gives an opportunity for me to get all the belts. That’s what I’m here for.’
That’s surely passed him by, he needed to back up those comments tonight. World Boxing News reported Lou DiBella’s tweet about the fight; ‘That was a BS draw between Forrest and Hunter on Triller Fight Club,” said the Hall of Famer. “Excellent fight, but Forrest beat Michael Hunter tonight…’
Was It Good For Triller?
Sort of. The rap battle didn’t show on my stream and that was one thing I was looking forward to. I’ll look at the other bouts of Trillerverz IV soon, but Triller is shaking up the boxing promoter picture by adding entailment to extraordinary and that works, even if it sometimes feels a little odd.
Trillerverse IV’s main event was really good to watch because we had the sight of a boxer on the up in consternation and a supposed fighter on the way down growing in confidence. Whether it was a great fight for the casual fan, I’m not so sure, there wasn’t an enormous amount of engagement, no knockdowns or knockouts.
But for someone who enjoys boxing, watching Forrest taking it to Hunter was worth the fee. Will they do it again? Is their 3rd meeting a rubber match? No. Will it help anyone? Yeah, Forrest, but the big noise isn’t around him, even if Lou is asking for him to receive judge love and so no one will really want to help the challenger.
It will be interesting to see what happens next to Michael ‘The Bounty’ Hunter, because tonight he resembled the confectionary. He had a soft center.