The newly vacant WBC cruiserweight title will find a new owner tonight in Dortmund, Germany, when Marco Huck takes on Mairis Briedis. Former holder Tony Bellew has been named WBC Emeritus Champion after ambiguity over his future plans, but his new status will allow him to return to fight for the title any time he chooses.
Cruiserweight is one of the most talent-heavy divisions in all of boxing, and Huck and Briedis are more than acceptable candidates to hold the prestigious WBC title. Both men are very entertaining fighters who rarely take a backwards step in the ring. Neither are blessed with significant speed, but their aggression more than makes up for any apparent sluggishness.
40-3-1 across a 13-year career, 32-year-old Huck won his first world title in August 2009, two months before Briedis had competed in his inaugural professional match. Despite both men being the same age, Huck has significantly more experience in high-level bouts, and in dealing with pressure amidst the toughest situations.
Across 44 bouts, Huck has competed in 326 rounds, while Briedis has completed just 79 rounds in 21 fights. Boxing isn’t necessarily about statistics, but Huck will be enthused by his recent form which saw him defeat Ola Afolabi and Dmytro Kucher after he was stopped by Krzysztof Glowacki in August 2015.
Huck’s mental resilience is amongst the strongest in boxing, and perhaps his best ever performance came in defeat. In February 2012, Huck moved up to heavyweight to challenge Alexander Povetkin for the WBA belt, and despite giving up a size disadvantage, Huck battled and harried Povetkin across all 12 rounds, before eventually losing a narrow majority decision.
Although Huck has the experience and ring craft that Briedis lacks at this stage, his Latvian rival will have the power advantage tonight. Huck has only stopped four of his last 13 opponents, albeit against mostly excellent opposition, while Briedis has finished 86 per cent of his victims, including Olanrewaju Durodola last May.
Briedis last fought in Liverpool in October when he easily dispatched Simon Vallily ahead of a mooted fight with Bellew. Instead of returning to England, the 32-year-old will be competing in enemy territory in Germany, but the cerebral Briedis is seemingly unfazed.
Huck too is bristling with confidence ahead of the fight tonight, which British fans can see exclusively on BoxNation. “Of course it is an honour to fight for the WBC belt, but it will be the same Marco Huck in ring like before. I have no plan for a knockout but I want to fight with a lot of tactical discipline,” he said.
“My opponent is strong. I know this. But I am stronger. If I wouldn´t believe in this I would be in the wrong place. And of course – I always want to win by knockout.” Briedis is the betting favourite tonight with odds of 4/7 against Huck’s 7/4. Those looking for a Huck victory might like the idea of him winning on points, which can be bet on at 3/1.