Olympian Hunter in no hurry to go pro


While many of his U.S. Olympic boxing teammates have turned professional, Michael Hunter has yet to join them.

The 24-year-old Las Vegas heavyweight intends to turn pro, in perhaps as soon as three weeks. But Hunter said he's in no rush to sign with a promoter.

"I want to make sure I do this right," he said Wednesday. "It's my career and my life, and there's a lot of goals I want to reach. So while I'm anxious to get in the ring, I want to make sure it's with the right people."

Hunter cut ties with his adviser, Mustafa Ameen, shortly after losing his opening bout at the London Olympics in early August. He said it was nothing personal.

"We're still good friends, but it didn't work out from the business end," Hunter said. "I'm basically a free agent, and I've talked to several promoters, and I'm waiting to hear back."

In the meantime, his mother, Gwen, is overseeing his business negotiations, while in the ring Hunter is working with trainer Kenny Croom, who helped prepare him for the Olympics. Hunter is splitting his time between Las Vegas and Los Angeles, where he spent part of last week working out at Freddie Roach's Wild Card Boxing Club.

Hunter plans to fight as a heavyweight in the pros and might make his debut Dec. 15 on a card in Laughlin. But nothing has been finalized, and if Hunter indeed does debut that night, it likely will be without a promoter.

"I've got some options," he said. "I'm anxious to get started, though. It's been a long time since I last fought."

■ TYSON'S FOUNDATION - Hall of Famer Mike Tyson is launching a charity to benefit at-risk children and is kicking off his recently formed foundation with a fundraiser Dec. 7 at Tabu nightclub in the MGM Grand.

The "Mike Tyson Cares Foundation" will target some of its philanthropic efforts locally, with some of the proceeds from the Dec. 7 event going to the ShadeTree Foundation and Awakenings, two organizations that benefit needy and at-risk children.

"I was a kid at risk," Tyson said. "After the life I've lived, I believe I can relate to those kids and I can help them. I want to give kids a fighting chance to make it."

Tyson is hoping to use his renewed celebrity from his successful one-man stage show "Mike Tyson Undisputed Truth" as well as his appearances in "The Hangover" series of films to generate funds for the foundation.

"It's about time," Tyson said of him using his popularity to do good things. "They used to call me 'The baddest man on the planet.' I want my legacy to be about being the nicest guy on the planet."

In addition to the Dec. 7 event, there will be an auction for an opportunity to sit with Tyson ringside at the Dec. 8 Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez fight at the MGM Grand Garden. To bid on the event, go to www.charitybuzz.com. For more information on the event at Tabu, go to the foundation's website, www.miketysoncares.org.

■ CORNEJO WINS - Local female middleweight Maricela Cornejo improved to 2-0 with a third-round technical knockout of Terri Lowe on Nov. 17 in Sacramento, Calif.

"I was much more prepared this time," said Cornejo, who trains in Las Vegas. "I felt very comfortable in the ring."

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.

 

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