Marco Huck MD12 Ola Afolabi

By Matt McGrain on June 8, 2013
Marco Huck MD12 Ola Afolabi
Marco Huck reestablished himself in Berlin by scores of 114-114, 115-113 and 117-111.

When the bell for the beginning of the twenty-fifth round between these two top-class savages sounded, reality was reintroduced to proceedings…

Such was the savagery of the second cruiserweight encounter between Nigerian born Londoner Ola Afolabi and Serbian born Berliner Marco Huck that the build-up to today’s third encounter had an air of unreality to it. The staid atmosphere in Max Schmeling Halle, Berlin and Huck’s “colorful” entrance, replete with overexcited pop singer and embarrassingly clad dancing girls did not help—but when the bell for the beginning of the twenty-fifth round between these two top-class savages sounded, reality was reintroduced to the proceedings, if not quite with the savagery of their two previous encounters, at least with some abandon.

It was Marco Huck that emerged triumphant after twelve difficult and workmanlike rounds that saw the Transnational Boxing Board’s #1 cruiserweight re-establish himself as the preeminent 200-pound boxer with cards reading 114-114, 115-113 and 117-111. Afolabi, who failed to bring the type of pressure he repeatedly dealt Huck thirteen months ago, had no complaints at the end of what was the least exciting of their three encounters.

As in their second fight it was Afolabi who established his jab and appeared to take control of the fight, but as in the first fight, it was Huck that landed the hardest punches of the round, dropping two of the big right hands he has tormented the Brit with in so many shared rounds. This has been the balance between the two men—Afolabi is allowed to control most of the round, but he cannot win them without risking and landing hard punches, making either huge exchanges or a loss seemingly inevitable. In the second Huck showed more activity, landing to body and head with thudding shots, taking the round with a sharp and fast-handed combination in the final thirty seconds of what was a good round for the Serbian. Afolabi continued to fire back, but had been out-sniped and outthought.

This pattern continued into the third in which Ola worked harder but for less return. As I wrote in previewing this fight, Huck picks the spots, always, when the two will fight hard, and this makes him the general even if Afolabi is controlling the space; so it was that Huck repeatedly caught his opponent on the hop, landing hard shots to body and head, the pick of them a short right hand inside and a winging left hook to the body, a punch that drew a shake of the head from Afolabi. When, after dominating the early part of the fourth with his jab and a right hand to the body quickly becoming his money punch, Afolabi was walked onto two hard right hands that left him hurt. Outworking his opponent for the final minute of the round, Huck had a commanding lead on the cards more in keeping with the first fight than with the second.

A close fifth could have gone either way after, in a by now familiar pattern, Afolabi out-jabbed Huck for most of the round but was hurt by a Huck right hand in the closing seconds that brought the round into question. Far from gun-shy, Afolabi looked less keen to engage and fight Huck than had been the case in their other two meetings, meaning he wasn’t getting quite enough done during Huck’s rest periods. Sternly warned for hitting behind the head at the end of the round, Huck rested a little too long in the sixth allowing Afolabi to steal the round. Their attempts to out-wait one another made for a dull seventh until Huck landed yet another brutal right hand on the bell that dipped Ola’s knees.

After out-brawling Afolabi for spells in the eighth, Huck appeared to take most of the ninth off and after a bad tumble behind a Huck push, Ola sealed the round with some good left hand work straight off the canvas. Afolabi started the tenth fast, knowing he was likely to be behind on the cards and in need of some big three minute spells if perhaps not yet the knockout. A low left hook from the Serbian didn’t discourage him and he landed a clipping right hand out of a clinch to Hucks’s huge displeasure. Still an untidy fight, Afolabi was deeply encouraged by his finally landing a flush left hook and sending Huck into retreat, before war finally broke out on the ropes and in a neutral corner. Huck landed huge punches but Afolabi bulled back to land his own hard shots making the round a question mark for the judges, but the Brit was clearly encouraged by Huck’s open mouth and messy retreat at the beginning of the eleventh. He was only forthcoming with sporadic pressure, however and the round became a summary of Ola’s problems in microcosm, as he repeatedly failed to take advantage of Huck’s inactivity, unable to get forwards in increments big enough to corner him.

The twelfth held the possibility of being the decider for both men but it was a round contested without the expected urgency, Afolabi moving forwards behind the jab, Huck looking to counter with that defining right hand. He landed a huge one in the final thirty seconds but was too tired to follow it up in any meaningful way; Afolabi was too tired to re-counter.

It was in many ways a dissatisfying end to the most underexposed and amongst the most excellent of active boxing rivalries, but at least the decision was clean. 114-114 and 117-111 may not be particularly accurate as far as the fight I saw went (my card: 116-112) but the third card of 115-113 was a fair reflection that puts the rivalry behind Huck and leaves both the cruiserweight and heavyweight divisions wide open before him.

For Afolabi, there is the frustration of knowing had he found the ounce of energy necessary to win one more round the fight would have been rendered a draw and a lucrative fourth fight would have been likely. He will remain ranked but is nevertheless a road warrior without a real home. He is seemingly wanted not in London, his Los Angeles home or in Germany and Eastern Europe where K2 promotions have completely under-matched him, the Huck fights aside.

Hopefully he can remain in the mix near the top of the cruiserweight division. His heart and skill have been as much a part of this excellent trilogy as Huck’s grit and determination.

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

Discuss this in our forums

Related Articles

Leave a comment