Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer –
Cruiserweight titleholder Marco Huck has longed to fight in the United States for many years. His opportunity is finally here and he plans on making the most of it, and a bit of history in the process.
“I have been wanting to fight in the U.S. for over 10 years,” said the 30-year-old Huck, who is from Germany. “The problem was that I didn’t really have anyone by my side who could help me to achieve this dream. But now I found (promoter) Lou DiBella, whose experience is great and who can help me over here and help me with something that my former promoters (Sauerland Event) weren’t able to do.
“I said already that I achieved everything in my career so far and now I get to achieve my debut in the U.S., and I’m looking forward to this fight and for a long run over here in the United States.”
Huck’s American debut will come in a mandatory defense against Poland’s Krzyzstof Glowacki on a Premier Boxing Champions card Friday night (Spike TV, 9 ET) at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.
A victory, draw or no contest for Huck, an aggressive puncher with an ultra-crowd pleasing style, would be particularly meaningful as it would mark his 14th successful title defense. That would beak the record he shares with England’s Johnny Nelson for most defenses in the history of the 200-pound cruiserweight division, which has existed since 1979.
“When I do something, I want to do it right and with this win I can actually go down in boxing history, which was always my mission,” Huck said. “The record is a very big deal for me. The division is not that known over here in the States, but it is in Germany. It got well-known because of me. That’s what I want to do over here in America.”
In the main event, former light heavyweight champion Antonio Tarver (31-6, 22 KOs), 46, of Tampa, and former two-time cruiserweight titleholder Steve Cunningham (28-7, 13 KOs), 39, of Philadelphia — who handed Huck his first defeat by 12th-round knockout in a 2007 cruiserweight world title fight — meet in a scheduled 12-round heavyweight bout.
Huck won his world title in 2009, a unanimous decision against Argentina’s Victor Emilio Ramirez, and has gone on to defeat many of the division’s best fighters, usually in exciting fights. Among his victims are Ola Afolabi (against whom he is 2-0-1 in a memorable trilogy), Denis Lebedev (who went on to win a version of the world title), former titlist Hugo Hernan Garay and former titleholder Firat Arslan, twice.
But Huck did not want to be just a big name in Germany. He wanted to spread his wings, which is why he parted ways with career-long promoter Sauerland Event in 2014, a separation that has kept him out of the ring for a year. It also forced him to find a new trainer, because longtime trainer Ulli Wegner is under contract to work with Sauerland-promoted fighters and because Huck wanted to train in the United States. Huck (38-2-1, 26 KOs) hooked up with respected Las Vegas trainer Don House, who trained Bermane Stiverne to a heavyweight world title. House said he likes what he has seen from Huck.
“When I do something I want to do it right and with this win I can actually go down in boxing history, which was always my mission. The record is a very big deal for me.” – Marco Huck
“Marco is tough as nails. Very tough,” House said. “But you don’t have to crush every punch, every round, so I’m just trying to slow him down a little bit. His toughness, his power is there. I love that. I just need to slow him down a little bit.”
Huck said he will always view Wegner, who trained him from his amateur days, as a father figure, but that he has enjoyed working with House. “Don House and I get along great and we work together really well. He trusts me and gives me space to breathe but at the same time he demands a lot during our training sessions,” said Huck, whose English has improved greatly. “My former coach, Ulli Wegner, was very different. I had less freedom. Sometimes I even hid from him. With Don it’s a different story. The space he allows me to have also means that I have more responsibilities.”
Huck’s goals are clear. He has stated them several times. He wants to defeat Glowacki to break the division defense record, then perhaps make one more title defense — possibly against Roy Jones Jr. — and then move up to the heavyweight division for marquee fights.
“I’ve pretty much fought everyone there is in this division, so my mission has always been to go up to the heavyweight, but when I do eventually go up there I want to fight the big names,” Huck said. “I don’t just want to fight bums. I want to fight the really tough guys.”
In February 2012, Huck did step up to heavyweight for a shot at then-titlist Alexander Povetkin. Huck was impressive but lost a highly controversial majority decision in a fight many believed Huck clearly won. After that fight, Huck returned to cruiserweight and continued to defend his title, but always with the plan that he would return to heavyweight.
“When I eventually go back up to heavyweight I want to fight the top guys right away,” he said. “Maybe I’ll go fight (titleholder) Deontay Wilder. That is definitely an interesting option.
“Everybody knows that I actually won the fight against Povetkin. Povetkin himself actually came to me after the fight and told me that he never wants to see me again. My ambition has always been to fight the best and also to fight the best in the heavyweight division. I want to go back to the heavyweight division in the future and take over there as I did in the cruiserweight division.”
DiBella saw the fight with Povetkin, who still a top contender and Wilder’s mandatory challenger, and is one of the many who believes Huck beat him.
Cruiserweight titleholder Marco Huck is making his U.S. debut Friday night in New Jersey. Credit: Photo by Ed Diller/DiBella Entertainment
“He knows he has to build an audience in the United States and he wants that (defense) record, but he already thinks he’s a top-10 heavyweight. I think he’s right,” DiBella said. “We all thought he beat Povetkin. I think he has the right attitude — set this record and then there’s big money at heavyweight. He really is relishing the opportunity to be on TV over here. He knows this first fight is part of a process and he has to go out there and perform.”
Glowacki (24-0, 15 KOs), 29, stands in his way and although his resume is extremely thin and he is unknown, he is confident of pulling the upset.
“Huck is, of course, the favorite because he’s a world champion. After I beat him, I will be a favorite too,” he said. “People are afraid of Huck’s power but I’m not. What I want is a hard-fought battle and winning by knockout in final round. This is my dream and I will make it happen.
“I read that Marco Huck said he could bet all his money on defeating me, so I will say the same — I’m betting all my money that I will be a new world champion. I already see me as world champion. Huck is a great fighter, great warrior, so what? I’m ready for a war, from first round to the last.”
DiBella said he has a multi-fight agreement to promote Huck, who intends to fight regularly in the United States. DiBella said he has been a fan of his for several years and believes he can help make him into a popular figure in American boxing.
“I love him,” DiBella said. “He’s got a great deal of charisma and he’s a badass. He’s really personable and smart. He has a natural promotional instinct and he really is excited to be here and be on American TV where a lot of people will get a chance to see him.
“His attitude is, ‘I’m going to come here and do my job, which is to beat the sh– out of this guy. Marco Huck can box but he is a brawler at heart and people are going to see it and they are going to love it.”