WBO cruiserweight title holder and all out war monger, Marco Huck, makes his American debut next month, when he meets undefeated Pole, Krzystof Glowacki. In the process he may shock U.S fans, who have probably forgotten the division exists.
The cruiserweight division was born in the late 1970’s. It arose out of necessity. With the size of heavyweight boxers constantly increasing it became unfair to group every fighter weighing 176lbs(80kg) and over into a division without a weight limit.
The World Boxing Council were the first governing body to sanction a title fight, in 1979. The original weight limit was set at 190lbs(86.36kg). In 2003, with the average weight of heavyweight contenders continuing to inflate, the limit was moved to 200lbs.
The division does not generate a great deal of publicity. This is partly because of its relative youth, and partly because it sits just below the traditional glamour division of the sport. The best cruiserweights rarely stick around very long if they feel they can fare well north of 200lbs. The money and prestige available in the heaviest weight bracket is enough to inspire most to take their chances with bigger men.
It is often the case that these ex-cruisers can achieve success, utilizing their greater speed, agility and athleticism to overcome size and strength disadvantages. Evander Holyfield was a champion as a cruiserweight before he ascended the weight ladder to major success. In recent times, David Haye demonstrated that similar feats can still be achieved, even in the age of the giant, when he picked up a title belt by vanquishing the monstrous Nikolai Valuev.
The attention garnered by the likes of Holyfield and Haye, through their exploits at heavyweight, has never translated into increased notoriety for the division itself, however.
The biggest barrier obscuring the visibility of the division is it’s dearth of American fighters. Neither the Ring magazine ratings or the transnational boxing rankings currently include any U.S boxer in their top 10 at the weight.
With the U.S still operating as boxing’s most important market, this is an obvious impediment to the growth of the division’s popularity. Even the hardcore boxing fan’s in North America pay little attention to cruiserweight. It is dominated by Europeans and most of the big fights don’t get aired on the other side of the Atlantic.
In Europe things are slightly different. On the continent’s mainland, where the majority of top cruiserweights are based, the division does good business. Still there is a lack of mainstream attention.
It is a shame that the division hasn’t captured the imagination of anyone, outside of the most hardcore fans, because this current crop of cruiser bruisers have much to offer the viewing public.
The vast majority of the fighters in, and around, the top ten at cruiserweight have fan friendly styles that match-up spectacularly against one another. This has already led to a number of top quality bouts in the last number of years. There are still many exciting gems to be mined from this talent rich division, however.
Any mix of the following fighters would make for fight of the year quality action….
Marco “Captain” Huck is one of the most consistently exciting fighters in boxing. The Germany based Serbian has been involved in some really intense scraps over his six years as a titlist. His defenses against Ola Afolabi, Firat Arslan and Denis Lebedev delivered action in spades. He also took a shot at WBA heavyweight champion Alexander Povetkin during this time, coming up just short in a titanic battle.
Huck’s all action, big punching, swashbuckling approach gives him the best chance of assuming the role of saviour for the division in America.
Yoan Pablo Hernandez
Yoan Pablo Hernandez is a Cuban defector now based in Germany. He is generally considered the best cruiserweight on the planet.
Hernandez is a good boxer, who puts his punches together beautifully, but like almost everybody on this list, can’t help himself when a tear-up is on offer.
The Cuban’s best wins have come against Steve Cunningham and, the teak tough, Firat Arslan. Next up for Hernandez is highly regarded Argentinian puncher Victor Emilio Ramirez.
His best fight, however, was undoubtedly this 2012 contest against Canadian Troy Ross.
This Russian tank shot up the rankings following his absolute manhandling of Welshman Enzo Maccarinelli, in 2009.
Lebedev, who is 27-2 with 20 wins coming by way of knockout, lost a split decision to Marco Huck the following year, though many felt as though he had done enough to win.
In 2011, Lebedev added a big name to his ledger when he obliterated Roy Jones Jr with a scary barrage of punches, with only seconds remaining in their ten round fight.
Lebedev’s most action packed fight came against the ageless and iron chinned Guillermo Jones. This worryingly brutal slugfest was as captivating as it was terrifying.
Though Kudryashov is unproven at the highest level, it would be hard to sleep, out of fear, if one were to leave this man off the list.
“The Russian Hammer” currently holds a record of 18-0, with every one of his victories coming inside the distance.
Kudryashov has yet to face off against a true top ten caliber opponent, but in recent victories he has diabolically dispatched two former title holders, in Juan Carlos Gomez and Francisco Palacios. Both of these victories came in the opening round, a stat made all the more impressive by the fact that Palacios had never been halted before.
It remains to be seen if the big Russian can keep his streak going as he steps up in competition. He seems to be quite a basic boxer, lacking in imagination. What he lacks in skills, however, he makes up for with knee buckling intimidation and paralyzing power. He is undoubtedly an exciting addition to proceedings.
This Polish fighter has a flair for the dramatic and a left hook good enough to close any show.
His most recent fight ended in a defeat to Grigory Drozd. There is no shame, however, in a loss to the classy Russian. The two were scheduled for a rematch in May but Wlodarczyk was forced to withdraw due to illness.
Wlodarczyk is 33 now, and after his most recent defeat, as well as his subsequent withdrawal from the rematch, many will be dismissing his chances of reclaiming old glory. As the next video proves though, you can never count Krzystof Wlodarczyk out.
Cruiserweight is the perfect division for those of you who believe that the size of modern day heavyweights makes the action slow and cumbersome, but still desire the kind of hard hitting action only the bigger men can provide. Most modern cruiserweights are about the size of the heavyweights of the 60’s and 70’s. They weigh in at 200lbs but generally enter the ring closer to 220lbs.
Hopefully Marco Huck can prove to an American audience that their is entertainment to be found in this oft neglected weight class.