On Saturday night in Stuttgart, Germany, longtime WBO cruiserweight champion Marco Huck will put his belt on the line against fellow German Firat Arslan. This is a rematch of their November 2012 fight, which Huck carried by unanimous decision.
Huck is perhaps the biggest star in the 200-pound division, and Arslan is a former champ. This is a big fight in Germany, and the results will be noted by diehard North American fans.
|Per Boxrec||Marco Huck||Firat Arslan|
|Record||36-2-1, 25 KOs||33-6-2, 21 KOs|
|Weight||200 pounds||200 pounds|
|Hometown||Berlin, Germany||Suessen, Germany|
Serbian native Marco Huck is a very experienced world champion at just 29 years old, and he's become a popular fighter in his adopted country of Germany. A fellow German of Turkish descent, Firat Arslan has also been a fixture for years in the cruiserweight division.
Huck has a slight height advantage, and Arslan is a bit thicker through the torso. Both of these guys are the kind of exciting, rugged fighters who prove why the cruiserweight division is necessary.
Cruiserweight tends to be a forgotten division in the United States, but in Germany, longtime WBO champion Marco Huck is a major star. Firat Arslan is a respected veteran and former champion, and this fight is going to be a pretty big deal.
It's a rematch of their November 2012 battle, when Huck came away with a hard-fought unanimous decision. That was an exciting fight, so expect another one on Saturday.
Huck is considered the top dog in the division by many. He's held his WBO 200-pound title since 2009 and came close to earning the nod over Alexander Povetkin when they fought for the WBA "second-place" world heavyweight title in February 2012, which the Russian won via split decision.
Arslan held the WBA belt for six months over six years ago. He's always been a physical and exciting fighter and remains a specimen at age 43.
But his style of fighting does not favor a man in his early middle age.
Marco Huck is a strong, durable fighter, as he demonstrated by standing up to heavyweight Alexander Povetkin in 2012. He doesn't necessarily have monster power, but he has stopped a decent percentage of opponents, and his big overhand right has to be respected by anybody who is looking to finish the night standing against him.
He fights behind a tight, European-style high guard. He does not leave much of an open target and uses basic, efficient footwork to prevent his opponents from taking an angle on him.
Firat Arslan is a powerfully built fighter who can brawl. He likes to wade into danger behind a very tight guard and then unload thudding combinations from close range.
He has been a professional since the last century. At age 43, he could be looking at his last hurrah. That should give him a strong emotional boost.
Marco Huck turned in a great performance against Povetkin in February 2012, but he hasn't looked as sharp since. In his first fight with Ola Afolabi and in his subsequent clash with Firat Arslan, he spent too much time camped out behind his guard, flat-footed and waiting.
This allowed both opponents to dictate the pace and stay very comfortable while they probed his defensive shell for openings. Huck looked better in his rematch with Afolabi, but fighters sometimes age quickly, like NFL running backs.
With Huck's resume, he could be an old 29.
Firat Arslan comes forward in a straight line and leaves plenty of room for a hook to wrap around the side of his guard, where he tends to leave himself wide open. He remains in front of his opponent and in position to be hit all night long.
His style requires tremendous durability and conditioning to be successful against a world champion like Huck. It's a style that is best suited to a young man, not a guy who is 43.
Marco Huck should look to establish a solid jab early against Firat Arslan, to break up his timing as he looks to press forward. Huck is a strong inside fighter, but he should look to jolt Arslan coming forward, then position his lead foot outside of his opponent's, which will guarantee him the better attack angle on the southpaw.
Huck should put in the time pounding away at Arslan's 43-year-old torso. The last fight was a close one, and this one will likely be, too. So if he can slow Arslan down the stretch by breaking down his body, it would be a big advantage.
It's been a little more than a year since they last fought, but a year for a 40-year-old fighter is more significant than for a 30-year-old one.
So if Huck fights the same basic fight he did last time, he should win again.
Firat Arslan gave Marco Huck a very tough fight in their first meeting. He did a good job of dictating the pace and initiating the exchanges.
But Huck did land the better punches over the course of the fight.
Arslan needs to do a lot of the same things in the rematch as he did in the first fight. He wants to crowd Huck and prevent the younger, more explosive fighter from getting off first and setting the rhythm.
The biggest change that he needs to make is to be more careful about his angles when moving forward. As a southpaw, he needs to be particularly cautious of his lead foot.
Nobody becomes a completely different fighter at age 43. But if Arslan is going to improve on his last performance against Huck, he'll need to use his experience and make some slight adjustments.
There's a lot of good boxing on television in the United States this weekend, but I'd be happy if this one were on the docket as well. Marco Huck and Firat Arslan are two big, strong fighters, and this promises to be an entertaining scrap.
It's always my inclination in these fights to side with the old guy. I'm 43 and would love to see the wisdom of age triumph over the raw talent of youth.
But Arslan is no Bernard Hopkins. He's a physical, pressure fighter who couldn't quite match Huck's pace in November 2012. I don't think he's going to be that much better now that he's more than a year older.
It will be another competitive fight, but Huck will beat Arslan into position too many times and land too many overhand rights. What will be a pretty even fight for the first half should start to turn solidly for Huck down the stretch.
He will end up winning by decision, eight rounds to four.
Huck will remain one of the biggest names in the unfashionable 200-pound division, but some unification bouts at cruiserweight in 2014 could build more interest in the weight class.