After losing last month’s close bout with WBA regular heavyweight beltholder Alexander Povetkin, Marco Huck is dropping back into the cruiserweight ranks, where he will defend his WBO title in a rematch with Ola Afolabi.
Huck (34-2, 25 knockouts) has won 15 straight fights as a 200-pounder, including 11 by knockout, since falling by 12th-round stoppage to Steve Cunningham in December of 2007.
Huck defended his crown against Afolabi (19-2-3, 9 KOs) by unanimous decision in December of 2009.
“We believe that defending his WBO cruiserweight title is the best thing for Marco to do,” said Wilfried Sauerland, Huck’s promoter. “At the age of 27, he is still very young for a boxer. He can always move up to heavyweight later.”
Huck lost a majority decision to Povetkin (24-0, 16 KOs), 114-114, 116-113 and 116-112. THE RING scored it 115-113 for Huck.
“I would have loved to remain at heavyweight but my team convinced me to stay at cruiserweight for the time being. That´s fine for me,” said Huck.
“I am happy to continue my domination and keep destroying opponents. I will start with Afolabi. He is a dangerous fighter but he has no chance against me.”
BERNABE CONCEPCION’S FIGHT WITH MIKEY GARCIA IS A MUST-WIN
The advisor of Bernabe Concepcion said the boxer will be in “the most important fight” of his career on Saturday night against unbeaten featherweight contender Miguel “Mikey” Garcia on the undercard of the Orlando Salido–Juan Manuel Lopez rematch on Showtime.
Concepcion (29-5-1, 15 knockouts) is coming off a split-decision victory over Aaron Garcia in October that helped him to bounce back from a split-decision loss to Juan Carlos Martinez in May.
Garcia (27-0, 23 KOs), meanwhile, scored his sixth-straight knockout victory when he stopped Martinez in the fourth round in October, and can earn a shot at the winner of Salido-Lopez II if he vanquishes Concepcion.
Lopez (31-1, 28 KOs) still was the WBO featherweight beltholder in July of 2010 when he scored a second-round stoppage of Concepcion to end a fight in which each fighter went down in the first round, and Concepcion was dropped twice in the second.
Lopez was dethroned by eighth-round knockout against Salido (37-11-2, 25 KOs) in April of last year.
“Bernabe’s in great physical condition,” said advisor Michael Koncz of Concepcion, who turned 24 in January. “But we need to work on him mentally and he needs to get some self-esteem and self-confidence back.”
The last time Concepcion fought for the WBO featherweight belt was in August of 2009, when he battled then-champion Steven Luevano in a closely contested bout.
Trailing 67-66 on two cards and leading by the reverse score on the third, Concepcion unleashed an errant punch after the bell ending the seventh round, flattening Luevano to his back and knocking him cold.
Refereee Jay Nady had little choice but to disqualify Concepcion, ending his unbeaten streak of 20-0-1 that included 12 knockouts.
“This fight with Garcia is the most important fight in Bernabe’s career. I think that it’s more important than the two world championship fights that he’s had,” said Koncz. “And he needs to perform well. If he doesn’t perform well, then I think that he needs to sit down and talk about retiring.”
GARCIA’S READY TO SHINE DURING DEBUT IN PUERTO RICO
Garcia said that he won’t be influenced by the enthusiasm of the Puerto Rican fans, even though they treated him well.
“It’s my first time here, but everybody received me well, and everyone has applauded me,” said Garcia. “They welcomed me. I’m excited to be part of the undercard of the rematch between Lopez and Salido.”
Although there does not seem to be any bad blood between himself and Concepcion, Garcia also said that he won’t underestimate his opponent.
“I saw him training on the treadmill [Wednesday] morning, and I shook his hand and I have nothing bad to say about him. I don’t have anything bad to say about him, nor he about me. During the press conference, he just said that he’s ready and he’s going to come and fight,” said Garcia.
“But I’ve done all of my work in the gym, and I expect him to be hungry and to try to take my spot. That’s why I consider him to be a dangerous opponent. He’s had the opportunity to fight for world titles, and I’m sure that he’s hungry to do it once again.”
Although he won’t try to blow out Concepcion to impress the crowd, Garcia said he is targeting a performance worthy of a champion.
“I do think that I’m going to take my time and set things up and look for the openings. That’s the type of fighter that I am. I’m very patient, very calm, cool and collected. If I find the opportunity to stop my opponent, then I will step up the level a notch and go for the stoppage,” said Garcia.
“I’m ranked No. 1 in world to fight for a title shot, and I think I’ve earned it and I think that I deserve it. I still do think that l need to perform well on Saturday night for the people and for the networks to truly believe that I deserve it. If I just win and look sloppy and don’t perform well, then people won’t give me the credit and believe that I’m ready for the title shot. So I want to win convincingly.”