Interim World Boxing Organization (WBO) cruiserweight champ Ola Afolabi, 19-2-3(9) has a second chance to win the full title on May 5th, when he will face Marco Huck in a rematch. Back in December of 2009, “Kryptonite,” as the London-born Afolabi is known, lost a reasonably close 12-round decision to “Kapt’n” Huck and now he is getting ready for another chance in Germany.
Ola says he is a different, vastly improved fighter today, and the 32-year-old who has won five in a row since the loss to Huck says he will leave “no doubt” this time around. Afolabi, who has scored a couple of eye-catching KO’s in his time (think his taking out of Enzo Maccarinelli and his KO Of The Year candidate of a win over Terry Dunstan), feels Huck will be overpowered this time.
Already getting in shape for the fight that will go down in Erfurt, Ola had the following things to say about the “must-win” fight:
James Slater: Thanks for taking the time to speak with me, Ola. Have you started proper camp yet for the Marco Huck rematch on May 5th?
Ola Afolabi: No, I’ve not started full camp yet, that will be in Germany. But I’ve been training for the last two weeks: I’ve been running, hitting the bags and doing conditioning work. The last four weeks, I’ll pick it up in Germany.
J.S: Do you know who you’ll be sparring with?
O.A: Not yet. We’ve been calling around a few guys. But there aren’t too many guys with Huck’s style. We need fighters who can imitate the pressure Huck applies.
J.S: You know all about Huck from the first fight, of Dec. 2009 – you feel you are a better fighter now?
O.A: Yes, absolutely. Last time I didn’t train like I should have, and Huck is a guy who, if you don’t fight against, you lose. I’ve said that this time it will not go to the judges – either way. I’m 32 and I have no time to waste. I’m going to go for broke in this fight, but at the same time I won’t be stupid. I’m definitely a better fighter now. My whole training regimen has changed and improved. Now I believe fully in my strength and my power. Last time, I jumped in [to the Huck fight] after just one fight that year (the big win over Enzo Maccarinelli), but this time there will be no excuses. My style has definitely improved: I have got the rounds in now.
J.S: You hurt Huck in the first fight, in the 5th-round. Did he ever hurt you?
O.A: No, he never hurt me. They all say he has power, which I don’t doubt, but I was out of shape and I had no real trouble getting him hurt. But I never had the stamina and I couldn’t finish him. This time, if I hurt him I go for it! I’ll really be swinging for the fences.
J.S: Do you feel, aside from yourself of course, that Huck is the best cruiser in the world today?
O.A: Now that Steve Cunningham has been beaten twice by [Yoan Pablo] Hernandez, yes, I do. Denis Lebedev has been fighting old legends. I definitely feel Huck would beat Hernandez and Lebedev, in a rematch. I did think Lebedev beat Huck the last time, but it was very close (in Dec. 2010 – a 12-round SD for Huck) but I don’t think Lebedev has been the same since. Lebedev hasn’t been doing himself any favours by facing old men; he’s not upped his game. The only way you do that is by facing the best – Lebedev’s not done that. I think Huck would beat Hernandez with his pressure. Another guy that has to be given respect is the WBC champ [Krzystof Wlodarczyk], he’s underrated but he’s very solid.
J.S: Talking about Lebedev, I agree with you – James Toney, for example, is shot!
O.A: Oh, James Toney has been shot for years. But saying that, I still thought he’d pull it off [Vs. Lebedev last November], because he’s so slick; but he didn’t show up.
J.S: You say you want the KO win against Huck; that KO you scored over Terry Dunstan (last July) was awesome! That shot lands on Huck and he’s gone.
O.A: Listen, that kind of punch would take out a heavyweight. But anyone can land that type of shot. If I hit Huck with a homerun like that, he’s gone. But if he hits me like that, I’ll be gone. But I’ve shown the skill and talent to land a shot like that; Huck hasn’t. I’ve shown it before – against Enzo, Dunstan and the last guy I fought, Valery Brudov: I landed an overhand right to set up that (5th-round retirement) win. That’s my punch; Huck hasn’t got that. Huck is not a technically sound fighter, he fights crazy – off balance and he throws wild shots – but he makes it work for him. I have to find holes in his style and exploit them. Every fighter has holes in his style – but it’s okay finding the holes; you have to make the guy pay for them.
J.S: You feel you’ll be coming home from Germany with that WBO belt?
O.A: Right now there’s no doubt at all, I can picture myself with that title around my waist. I don’t think Huck will be able to go the distance with me. My self belief is huge right now!
By James Slater: