Boxing’s “glamour division” is in dire need of a fresh face, a heavyweight the boxing public can support in this era dominated by the Klitschko brothers.
Top cruiserweight Marco Huck, just 27 years old, hopes to fill the void at heavyweight, throwing his hat into the ring. Most cruiserweights who make the jump to heavyweight have a tune-up or two at the new weight, so that they can become acclimated with the power and size of fighting bigger men.
Huck (34-1, 25 knockouts) abandoned that strategy, electing to jump right into a fight with arguably the best big man not named Klitschko, as he takes on THE RING’s No. 2-rated heavyweight Alexander Povetkin on Saturday at the Porsche-Arena in Stuttgart, Germany (4:00 p.m. ET,EPIX), with Povetkin’s WBA belt on the line.
“I plan to win the title on Saturday and to stay at heavyweight,” said Huck, a native of Serbia now residing in Berlin, Germany. I feel very good, I can eat more. It feels very natural. I will have even more power. I enjoyed putting the weight on.”
Povetkin (23-0, 16 knockouts) is expecting an exciting heavyweight scrap with Huck, a rarity these days. A fan-friendly bout would greatly improve the stock of both fighters, regardless of the outcome.
“I expect an exciting fight,” said the 32-year-old 2004 Olympic gold medalist. “Huck is a strong fighter with a lot of power and he is very aggressive. He is an accomplished champion at cruiserweight and I am happy to give him a shot at my title. He will not defeat me, though. I think I am the better boxer, I have more experience. Fighting at heavyweight will be much different from fighting at cruiserweight.”
Huck, THE RING’sNo. 1-rated cruiserweight until he announced his intentions to move to heavyweight, does not seem intimidated.
“Povetkin is very accomplished, he is an Olympic Champion, amateur world champ and also WBA champ now,” Huck told RingTV.com. “That speaks of his class. But I am hungry and determined, I am very explosive and I will get to him.
“I don´t look at other fighters, only at me, and I know that I am strong enough to win the title on Saturday. I do have a prediction, it will be a great fight for my fans and I will knock him out to fulfill my lifelong dream of becoming heavyweight champion of the world.”
Povetkin, a native of Kursk, Russia, made his HBO debut in January of 2008, a comprehensive unanimous decision victory over American Eddie Chambers. But more than four years later, Povetkin has yet to have his second fight on the U.S. cable network, as his career has been marred with issues. He’s taken on a plethora of journeymen since that fight, the lone exception being his win over Ruslan Chagaev.
Povetkin was trained by Teddy Atlas, but that experiment has gone by the wayside after Atlas abruptly resigned as trainer last year. The Klitschko brothers have had on-again, off-again negotiations with Povetkin, but the only time a deal came to fruition, Povetkin was forced to withdraw due to injury.
“I am ready to fight everybody,” said Povetkin. “The first fight fell through because I was injured and for the second fight there was no agreement reached between our managements. I would love to fight the Klitschkos but it is up to my management and my promoter to decide when the time is right. Right now all my focus is on Huck.”
Huck, whose only career loss was a 12th-round knockout to Steve Cunningham, doesn’t plan on taking a temporary trip to heavyweight – he intends to win the title and stay there for good.
Huck took the title shot against Povetkin because he felt he wasn’t being challenged at cruiserweight. He feels this opportunity will reinvigorate him and he plans to seize the opportunity.
“I have defended my WBO cruiserweight title eight times. I need a new challenge,” said Huck.”I always wanted to be heavyweight world champion so my management presented me with this opportunity. I will gladly make the most of it.
“He will have big problems. I am explosive, aggressive and I have a very hard punch. I will put him in big trouble.”
Can Huck follow in the footsteps of Tomas Adamek and David Haye, two former cruiserweight kings who had successful runs at heavyweight? If Huck can, he would be a most welcome addition to a division devoid of fresh faces.
Mike Coppinger is a regular boxing contributor to USA TODAY and THE RING. He is a member of THE RING Ratings Advisory Panel, the Yahoo Sports Boxing Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeCoppinger