The cruiserweight division has been long maligned as a refuge for overweight lightheavies or undersized, heavies, but Marco Huck and Denis Lebedev will be the same ring sizes of Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier in their Fight of the Century.
What ever recognition their careers may lack with the general public, make no mistake, these are some seriously strong fighters who can bang with the best. All the public attention will be on the hyped Pascal/Hopkins clash in Montreal this Saturday, but it’s almost guaranteed this is the fight real fighters are gonna watch for a treat.
Denis Lebedev is a throwback to rugged frame of Sailor Tom Sharkey at the turn of the 19th century. He doesn’t impress physically with his size and cut, but he absolutely imposes himself his opponent in the most nightmarish way possible, knocking out 8 straight opponents since his comeback in 2008 after a bizarre 4 yr layoff from boxing. They could only last a collective 27 rounds, or about 3 rounds apiece, so clearly the sabbatical did him a world of good as well as moving up to the cruiser division.
Käpt’n Huck turned pro in 2004, so his is a classical journey of a solid championship fighter, taking about 5 yrs to secure a title and now with 4 defenses notched. As you can see, this boy has some size on him, bigger and stronger than anyone he has faced, and at 30-1, 23 KO, he’s racked up a great deal of experience for a 26 yr old and been in with a collection of the best.
Huck is gonna need it because Lebedev is a murderous southpaw coming off his best win yet, a 2nd round KO of highly regarded Alexander Alexeev in the style of Mike Tyson’s storied knockout of Trevor Berbick.
This will be irresistible force colliding with irresistible force with both having unmovable chins, so someone has to crack, but who?
Huck is well experienced in 12 round fights, so one need not be a seer to look at Lebedev’s lack of extended rounds during his comeback to figure that dragging him into the later championship rounds is where you might want to drown him. That would be safer than trying to exchange with him early, but Huck is a fighter’s fighter so he loves a good mano a mano collision. Can he contain his enthusiasm and box?
Huck has shown some more boxing discipline in his defenses and he seems to be totally dedicated to boxing and wanting to hang around for some good number of years, so he might play cagey hard to get with Lebedev. I’m sure that’s what his trainers want out of him.
Lebedev I know less of which is not surprising since he’s contested so few rounds in his comeback. He has a bandy legged awkward menace to him in the ring although there is nothing fancy in what he does but simply stand in front and pick rights and lefts until he hits his bullseye. It would appear he has that awkward sense of timing that opponents cannot train for compounded by his southpaw stance, something they can only experience the fatal results in the ring. Don’t know how good Lebedev is at chasing, cutting off the ring, fighting off the ropes, fighting inside, mauling and grappling, or moving inside the range of the rangy Huck who will be popping him from outside.
Even the ring stare down will be a deadly treat, so stay tuned this Saturday and we’ll find out in German time at Max Schmeling Halle, Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin.