Michael Rosenthal

A Huck of a situation

Well, Marco Huck put us in an awkward position.

The German cruiserweight-turned-heavyweight has announced that he will return to 200 pounds in spite of his solid performance in a loss to heavyweight contender Alexander Povetkin on Feb. 25.

Huck was THE RING’s No. 1-rated cruiserweight but was removed from the Top 10 because of his decision to fight Povetkin, which allowed Nos. 2 and 3 Yoan Pablo Hernandez and Steve Cunningham to claim the top two positions and fight for the RING title.

The move was and continues to be criticized, which is understandable based on precedent and how this has played out.

Huck was removed from the ratings for several reasons, one being THE RING Editorial Board’s determination to fill championship vacancies if it can do so legitimately.

According to our championship policy, only a fight between Nos. 1 and 2 (sometimes Nos. 1 and 3) can fill a vacancy. That would seem to have precluded a title fight at cruiserweight.

However, Huck put us in an unusual position. Our fervent wish would be for the No. 1-rated fighter in each division to face No. 2 (or No. 3) for all the vacant championships. Instead, Huck was moving out of the division and putting the cruiserweight title in indefinite limbo.

Plus, as I’ve written before, Huck’s intention was to beat Povetkin and then fight one of the Klitschko brothers for big money. He said as much.

And, for the record, we figured all along that Huck would simply return to the cruiserweight ratings if he decided to come back down to his more natural weight.

Thus, after considerable debate, we decided not to wait around for Huck to decide whether he’s a cruiserweight or heavyweight while fighters as accomplished as Hernandez and Cunningham were poised to fight one another. We removed Huck from our cruiserweight ratings.

That was our mistake.

To reiterate, we still believe we were justified in having Hernandez and Cunningham fight for the championship under these circumstances – an absent No. 1 and quality Nos. 2 and 3 set to fight one another.

However, there were other – better – ways to get it done.

One way would’ve been to demote Huck to No. 3, which would’ve allowed us to keep him the ratings – where he belongs – and abide by our own championship policy.

Or we could’ve left Huck at No. 1 and had Nos. 2 and 3 fight for the championship, which would’ve been in violation of our policy. I feel that move would’ve been defensible because of Huck’s decision to move up in weight but straying from policy would’ve created more problems.

(I should point out that THE RING is currently considering a somewhat more-liberal policy that would allow us to fill more vacancies. That was in our minds when we made our initial decision.)

Of course, we would’ve been criticized if we went either direction – demoting Huck to No. 3 or having Nos. 2 and 3 fight for the championship. That’s just part of the ratings game, for better or worse. Everyone has an opinion and isn’t afraid to express it.

The bottom line, though: Huck shouldn’t have been removed from the ratings entirely given that he continued to hold a major title at 200 pounds and had stated that he might return.

We regret that decision now.

The announcement that he is moving back down to cruiserweight presents another question: Do we wait until he fights at 200 pounds before reinstating him or do we do it immediately under these unusual circumstances?

In general, we must wait until a fighter actually steps into the ring at a new weight before rating him in that division for obvious reasons. In this case, Huck could change his mind about returning to cruiserweight if he gets a lucrative offer to face another heavyweight.

We will have made another mistake if we decided to rate him immediately only to learn that he will face David Haye or Tomasz Adamek in his next fight.

Still, this time, we decided it was wise to err on the side of Huck. He will re-enter the ratings on Monday. At what number? Check out the RING Ratings Update then to find out.

Finally, this isn’t an exact science. Many factors go into rating fighters, deciding which ones merit a rating, when they should or shouldn’t be removed, determining who fights for vacant championships, etc.

We’ll always rely on the invaluable input of the Ratings Advisory Panel – as well as input from our readers – and then try to make the most logical decisions. Usually we’ll get it right. On occasion we won’t.

We can promise one thing, though: We’ll learn from our mistakes.

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