Maccrinelli killer Ledebev to challenge Huck Saturday
By John Evans
‘FROM THE SKY TO THE LAND TO ENGAGE THE ENEMY’
As Denis Lebedev marches to the ring proudly wearing the blue beret of the Russian Airborne Troop this Saturday evening, the famous motto of the famed fighting unit will be running through his head. The no nonsense Russian won’t be descending into the ring from the sky à la Prince Naseem Hamed but he most certainly will be ‘engaging the enemy’
After a thrilling final quarter of 2010, boxing fans could be in for another early Christmas present when Lebedev challenges Marco Huck for the German’s WBO Cruiserweight belt. If the saying holds true and styles do indeed make fights, the battle between Europe’s best two cruiserweights has the potential for real fireworks.
Lebedev (21-0, 16ko) has stopped all 8 opponents since returning from a four year lay off and whilst the cruiserweight division has a lack of real star names, the 31 year old southpaw has looked very impressive. His straight left is currently one of the most devastating weapons in world boxing and has accounted for some solid names. Former WBO and European champion Enzo Macarinelli was unable to cope with his mix of power and aggression and 2005 amateur world champion Alexander Alekseev found his upright style no match for the marauding Russian in their WBO final eliminator. Alekseev seemed intimidated during the referee’s instructions and Lebedev capitalised, breaking his comrade’s nose in the first round and producing one of the year’s most conclusive knockouts in the second.
Lebedev isn’t a big cruiserweight but as an aggressive hard punching southpaw he is a nightmare to face. Although he has so far proved impossible to discourage it remains to be seen how he will cope should he come up against a big, seasoned cruiserweight who is able to withstand his barrages and drag him into the second half of a fight. Our questions could be answered this weekend.
An active champion, The 26 year old Huck (30-1, 23ko) will be making the 5th defence of the title he picked up with an August 2009 points victory over Victor Emilio Ramirez. Although he is an aggressive individual "Kaptain" tends to fight in patches, slowly walking his opponents onto the ropes where he unleashes his wild but heavy handed attacks. Huck doesn’t possess Lebedev’s chilling one punch power but rather overwhelms though sheer volume. It is fair to say the bad tempered Huck has earned his reputation as a fighter not averse to bending the rules. He employs some dubious tactics in close and accusations of preferential treatment from referees have been rife in some quarters. It would be interesting to see what a certain Joe Cortez would make of Huck’s style. To his credit Huck does seem to be growing as a champion and his last 3 victories have demonstrated a calmer approach in the ring. The outgunned Adam Richards was despatched in 3 rounds and both Brian Minto and Matt Godfrey were dropped 3 times on their way to TKO defeats.
The sole defeat on the German's record is a telling one. In 2007 he was stopped by Steve Cunningham in his first world title bid. Cunningham boxed superbly and forced Huck onto the back foot. It was the first time Huck hadn't had his own way in a fight and he wasn't nearly as effective. His increasingly desperate attempts to turn the fight back in his direction left gaps which Cunningham exploited beautifully, eventually forcing a 12th round stoppage.
The worry for Huck is that Lebedev has forged his entire career on pushing opponents onto the back foot. While Cunningham was able to stop Huck by accumulation of punches, Lebedev has shown on more than one occasion that he only needs to land one shot in order to turn a fight in his direction. The fight seems likely to boil down to a battle of wills. Will Huck be able to stand up to Lebedev's devastating power and will the Russian fighter have enough boxing ability to implement a plan B should Huck drag him into a close quarters rough house brawl?
The cruiserweight division is showing signs of life having been at somewhat of a low ebb recently. Since the exciting Tomasz Adamek left the division to pursue heavyweight glory, the division has been crying out for someone to take it by the scruff of the neck and the winner of this fight will be legitimately able to call themselves the man to beat in the division. If the vague talk of a cruiserweight super six tournament comes to fruition we could finally be set for an exciting period in one of boxings traditionally quiet weight classes.
With so many combustible elements coming together, just about anything could happen at the Max Schmeling Halle in Berlin this Saturday. The only thing guaranteed is excitement. While the clash between Jean Pascal and Bernard Hopkins will take top billing this weekend there is a real fight taking place 3500 miles away. Don't miss it.
Follow us on Twitter or Facebook