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Arguably the two most rugged operators in the cruiserweight division renew acquaintance this Saturday when WBO king Marco ‘Kapt’n’ Huck and veteran nemesis Firat Arslan collide at the Hanns Martin Schleyer Halle in Stuttgart.
Their initial ‘bang up’ in November 2012 was a truly brutal affair and, though Huck retained by unanimous decision, several felt the 43 year old Turkish descendant was hard done by.
Both will be fired up to assert their supremacy beyond doubt this weekend in a slug out that won’t be for the faint of heart and British fans can savour the action live by tuning into BoxNation, the Channel of Champions (Sky Ch.437/Virgin Ch.546).
In search of some expert analysis of the 200lb showdown, boxing writer Glynn Evans called up Tony ‘The Conqueror’ Conquest – the Romford crowd pleaser who challenges Australia’s Daniel ‘The Doberman’ Ammann for the vacant Commonwealth strap at the York Hall next month.
Tony says: “I thought Huck was very lucky last time. I don’t think he was expecting the intensity of the fight that he got. After competing well in his heavyweight title challenge to (Alex) Povetkin, then coming through all those tough, tough battles with Ola Afolabi, it seemed as if he underestimated Arslan. I think he expected it to be easy. But Arslan really came to win.
I’ll definitely be tuning into BoxNation on Saturday to catch the rematch. I always love watching ‘Kapt’n’ Huck. You know exactly what you are going to get. Excitement. Even if the first four or five rounds are boring, you can guarantee that, once he warms up, it’s going to ‘kick off’ eventually. He just loads up and swings. His right hand is always cocked and he slings it from the opposite corner post.
In addition to the first Arslan fight, I’ve seen pretty much all his other title fights that have been screened in the UK – going back to his stoppage loss to Steve Cunningham (TKO12, December 2007) - so I’m pretty familiar with him.
He’s always game for a fight, always turns up in terrific shape and he’s very big and strong. His best attributes would definitely be his toughness and his fighting spirit.
Technically, he does nothing outstanding. He’s got that typical upright East European stance. He just loads up and he can look a bit ‘novicey’ at times. He’s very ploddy, and usually takes a few.
His jab can be a bit lazy. He drops the left which leaves him open to right hands over the top. Trouble is, they never seem to worry him. He’s such a rough old boy. You’d need an iron bar to repel him! When Cunningham stopped him it was more a case of exhaustion in his first world title fight, than any fragility.
For me, Huck is the number one cruiserweight operating right now. I’ve not seen a great amount of (WBC champion Krzysztof) Wlodarczyk though I know he’s a big strong southpaw. Guillermo Jones is super tough but failed a drugs test so you can’t respect him and, though I love (reigning WBA czar) Denis Lebedev, I’m not sure he’d be big enough or strong enough to hold Huck off.
The most appealing fight would be Huck against Yoan Hernandez (the IBF boss). The Cuban is fast and loose limbed and Huck seems to struggle more with the mobile types but Hernandez’s condition doesn’t appear the greatest. I’d back Huck to be too strong and to outlast him. Hernandez likes to bully opponents but he’d not bully Huck.
But Huck mustn’t overlook Arslan. Other than their first fight, I’ve not seen much of Arslan but I’ve read plenty.
For a small, short southpaw, he’s got high technical ability; a nice tidy style. Like Huck, he whips himself into terrific shape. Clearly he’s a diligent trainer who’s very sturdy and, against Huck last time, he really gave it everything. I was very impressed.
Given he’s 43, he can maintain a very high workrate. Last time, Huck was forced to give rounds away. It was Arslan who looked fresher. His one shortcoming appears that I don’t think he’s much of a hitter at the weight.
To give himself the best chance of springing an upset, Arslan needs to advance with his hands tight, like Felix Sturm does, and entice Huck to swing and miss. Then he must make sure Huck pays for every miss with sharp, fast counters. Huck is bolt upright.
Arslan needs to make sure that his workrate is high for every round so that he gets Huck to expend energy. Power isn’t crucial for Arslan but he needs to be super fast.
If Huck is to retain his title, he’d be advised to ensure his hands are tight and he keeps the fight long. He needs to feint with the jab, then whip in those uppercuts and that straight right hand down the pipe; the perfect shot against a southpaw.
Both know what each other brings so the ‘feeling out’ process should be short. Within a few rounds I expect it to kick off and for there to be plenty of wild exchanges.
Arslan has proven he can take Huck’s power while Huck will probably be eager to prove he’s definitely the better man; a worthy champion. A lot will depend on Huck’s mindset and what he’s got left. Though he’s 14 years younger, he’s a very old 29. He’s had a few too many wars and I’d not be surprised if Arslan did pull off a surprise or force a draw.
I definitely expect it to go the full distance and think that Huck is probably still a bit too young and too fresh now he’s had a good seven month rest to recharge his batteries. He’ll have had time to look over his mistakes, give Arslan due respect and this time get his tactics right. I’m going with the ‘Kapt’n’ to put his doubters to rest and nick it on points.”