A guaranteed barn burner of a fight is due to take place in the cruiserweight division tonight (Saturday) as experienced Marco Huck (40-3-1, 27KOs) faces off against Latvian hard hitter Mairis Briedis (21-0-0, 18KOs).
Huck, born in Serbia but now a resident of Germany, will find himself with the home backing as the fire-fight unfolds in Dortmund. Once the home of Germany's coal and steel industries these traditional works have now long since been replaced by more modern, technological based jobs in the area. Likewise modern boxing has evolved and an all- out rumble is very rarely seen. Most matchups at the highest level these days feature at least one stylist but tonight's scrap will be a good old fashioned toe-to-toe battle, reminding us of days gone by.
Before looking at the fighters it should be noted that the full WBC 200lb title is now up for grabs. Earlier this week the Mexico City based organisation declared existing holder Tony Bellew “Emeritus Champion of the World.” The statement released by the WBC was the best/worst (delete as you see fit) of boxing politics. In summary it declared that Bellew had earned the privilege of Emeritus Champion because he stepped up to heavyweight and defeated David Haye. As it looks likely that Bellew will remain at heavyweight the WBC decided to put their full title on the line for Huck vs. Briedis but Bellew's ‘Emeritus' status guarantees him a title fight immediately should he return to cruiserweight.
A nicely manufactured bit of spin by the sanctioning body who will now collect fees for a full title fight from both Huck and Briedis. It is what it is. More important now is which combatant will be able to manufacture victory tonight?
Marco Huck has long been a fans favourite due to his offensive style and willingness to get drawn into no holds barred warfare. A come forward pressure fighter who tries to break his opponents with a high volume of punches, Huck has been a pro since 2004. He won the WBO cruiserweight title from Victor Ramirez in 2009 and defended it an impressive thirteen times. He was eventually dethroned in 2015 by Krzysztof Glowacki.
During his notable run defending the WBO belt Huck was involved in a series of gruelling fights with names such as Denis Lebedev and Firat Arslan as well as three epic encounters with Ola Afolabi. For good measure, during this sequence of duels, Huck stepped up to heavyweight to challenge Alexander Povetkin in 2012. Marco lost a disputed majority decision that night but saw his stock rise by giving such a tremendous account of himself against Povetkin who was at that time the WBA “regular” heavyweight champion.
After the Glowacki loss there were questions hovering around Huck. Had a long, hard career finally caught up to him? Was the then 30 year old now too shopworn to mix it at the highest level? Huck answered these questions by convincingly beating old adversary Afolabi, then Dmytro Kucher in 2016. These two victories have brought him to tonight, one win away from becoming a world champion once again.
Mairis Briedis as his record tells us carries heavy power. The Latvian turned pro in 2009 and despite being the same age as Huck has far less experience. The flip side of this of course is that he has less miles on his clock and this could be a factor should the bout go into the trenches late. This will be Briedis' first world title fight.
Similar to Huck, Briedis jumped north of 200lbs in 2015 to mix it up with an established heavyweight. He faced former world title challenger Manuel Charr. Despite being outweighed by 30lbs Briedis knocked Charr out cold in the fifth round, a superb demonstration of his concussive power.
Briedis was the mandatory challenger for the aforementioned Tony Bellew. Bellew and team obviously regarded Mairis as a challenger who could have derailed the Bellew-Haye train before it left the station so he was paid step aside money and Bellew beat up the hopeless BJ Flores instead. Briedis actually featured on the card that October night in Liverpool, defeating previously unbeaten Simon Vallily via 3rd round TKO.
The man from Latvia is also a come forward fighter who pressures his opponents by mixing up his attacks to head and body. He is constantly looking to let his power shots go early in exchanges. Briedis really loads up when he decides to throw his overhand right. If that particular punch connects the fight will be over. Against a seasoned campaigner like Huck though loading up the right may lead to him eating many counter punches. Also look for his left hook to the body. Briedis has ended several of his contests early with this punch.
So the relentless aggression of Huck or the power of Briedis? Which style will come out on top? Due to age, height and reach all being the same this one will come down to who has the most left in their tank when we reach the championship rounds. I am going to select Briedis via 11th round KO after a phenomenal battle. Huck will give his all as always but the fresher, more powerful fighter from Latvia will be the man wearing the WBC belt when all is said and done.
Plenty of hard work has been done in preparation. Both boxers weighed in at 199.5lbs. Marco Huck and Mairis Briedis are about to go to the coal face and use their unique tools to attempt to grind out victory. BoxNation will be screening the bout. Steel yourself and tune in if you can. No WBC style spin required here – the action is going to be hotter than the inside of a blast furnace.