New Era for the Cruiserweights

By Timothy Seaver on October 20, 2015
New Era for the Cruiserweights
Experience can’t make the skull withstand the pressure of a fist. (Lucas Noone/PBC)

In contrast to their division’s reputation for low-rent fighters, the two men were swinging, brawling, fighting like men who want to win a fight…

Our ability to see what’s in front of us is often clouded by memories of what preceded it. A well-worn and tattered belief is still being espoused by the boxing intelligentsia long after facts to support it have evaporated. It is the idea that the cruiserweight division is the garbage dump of the sport. The truth has become something quite different. The cruiserweight division is top-heavy with vibrant, powerful fighters and has grown into one of the strongest weight classes in all of boxing.

For years it was seen as the joke of the ring, another example of how the sport has degenerated from the golden days. But reality has been moving along at its usual pace while experts have lagged a step behind. Words from supposed experts are repeated so often that they come to be accepted as true. Evander Holyfield, they would say, is the only good fighter to ever do anything in that division.

The evidence to the contrary has been brewing for some time now. And it recently boiled over when Germany’s Marco Huck met Poland’s Krzysztof Glowacki in Newark, New Jersey. In contrast to their division’s reputation for low-rent fighters, the two men were swinging, brawling, fighting like men who want to win a fight. Most Americans have a hard time pronouncing and remembering their names, but their performance won’t soon be forgotten. They were giving the kind of battle US fight fans respect, regardless of whether or not their names were familiar to American lips.

Huck 38-3-1 (28 KOs) had thirteen title defenses of his WBO belt going into the fight. This is not the same as multiple defenses of the undisputed title, but it can’t just be laughed away either. He had earned the respect of the German audience, but traveled to our shores to win a piece of the American sports dollar. And in the sixth round, it looked like those dollars would start to pile up. Huck sprang a quick left hook to the top of Glowacki’s head and the Polish fighter’s legs folded beneath him. He rose at the count of nine, but just barely, and on shaky legs. The legs did not wobble for long, however, as Glowacki regrouped and tossed a big right hand at the charging Huck.

The back and forth battle began to favor Huck as it looked as though he was punching his way to a unanimous decision victory. But his dream of a world-wide acceptance was battered to a sudden stop when Glowacki crushed him in the eleventh round. Huck’s superior experience was winning the fight, and experience can take a fighter immeasurably far, but can’t make the human skull withstand the pressure of the human fist.

There are very legitimate reasons for the division’s lack of acceptance among avid fans. One of the reasons is that most of the elite fighters had so long avoided it. They would chase the money by either starving themselves to make weight at light heavy, or they’d risk getting crushed by the giants at heavyweight.  And truthfully, it really was pretty bad for most of its existence. It might suffer from the same issue the light heavyweight division suffered when it was first introduced in the early 20th century; it’s just below the heavyweights and seen as an “in-between” weight class.

Whatever the reason, people should realize that the division has grown. And the Glowacki vs. Huck fight is not the only example of that growth. Lest anyone think that one fight should flip a reputation from the gutter to the palace, there are a number of quality men currently fighting at the top of the 200-pound division. More importantly, there at potential match-ups that could be just as dynamic as Glowacki and Huck.

Russia leads the way with four of the elite cruisers; “Pretty Boy” Grigory Drozd, Rakhim Chakhkiev, Denis Lebedev, and Dmitry Kudryshov

Drozd 40 -1 (28 KOs), became WBC champion last year when he dethroned long-standing titlist, Krysztof Wlodarczyk.

Chakhkiev 24-1 (18 KOs), doesn’t have a number of elite victories on his résumé, but he has remained busy since losing to Wlodarczyk in 2013. With a frame that is stacked with muscle, he tries to live up to his nickname, The Machine.

WBA champ, Lebedev 27-2 (20 KOs) is a veteran who has remained near the top of the rankings for years. He battled Huck in a loss, but held his own throughout.

At 18-0 (18 KOs) Dmitry Kudryshov’s crushing right hand has led the way to his 100% KO ratio. His most impressive victory came against Juan Carlos Gomez, a fighter who took Vitali Klitschko into the ninth round…against Kudryshov he lasted about twenty seconds.

Outside of Russia there is rising Ukrainian star, Oleksander Usyk 8-0 (8 KOs), a Gold Medalist from the 2012 games. He looks good after just two years of fighting and has Klitschko on his management team to back him up.

Adding to the international feel of the division is the South African fighter Ilunga Makabu 19-1 (18). Like Chakhkiev, he lacks the huge name on his résumé. His only loss, however, came in his first professional fight. And like his European counterparts, the best part of his game is his power.

They come from all over the world, proving that boxing is a truly global sport. They are fan-friendly fighters, not just men looking to make it to the last bell and nip and tuck their way to a decision. All of them have experience, all of them want to prove themselves, and all of them are waiting for the chance to reveal the truth of the division; this is a new era for the cruiserweights.

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

HIGHLIGHTS: Huck vs Glowacki and Tarver vs Cunningham - 8/14/2015 - PBC on Spike

Grigory DROZD vs. Krzysztof WLODARCZYK 28.09.2014

Krzysztof Wlodarczyk vs Rakhim Chakhkiev (Good Quality)

Бокс: Марко Хук - Денис Лебедев \ Boxing: Marco Huck vs Denis Lebedev

Dmitry Kudryashov vs Juan Carlos Gomez

Oleksander USYK vs Andrey KNYAZEV Full Highlights

Ilunga Makabu vs. Eric Fields [1080p]

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  1. raxman 08:22pm, 10/21/2015

    yeah the mistake was not copying the amateurs and having super heavyweight as a division. then cruisers would be called Heavyweight. that division would then have the cache it deserves. no one really cares about the current HWs - freaks over 6’4 and above 220pounds - they can hardly throw a punch. its loads of hitting and clinching. if the Heavyweights were capped at 210 pounds, we’d have a situation where guys like Kovalev would have a high profile place to go, instead of having to jump cruiser as most of them do now

  2. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 07:28am, 10/20/2015

    Eric-There you go cutting right through the bullshit again…..for my part if you’re 175 at fight time you’re not a middleweight….you’re a light heavyweight, if ever there was. Between diuretics and PEDs this shit is getting out of hand and needs to be reined in. Blame the boxing public because this is what they seem to want….do you think for a minute that anyone in Mexico City gives two shitz that Marquez was juiced to the gills when he almost killed Pacquiao….not a chance….he’s their guy….that’s all that matters.

  3. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 07:17am, 10/20/2015

    Just keep rats like Guillermo Jones, Tarver, and Roy Jones Jr out of the mix and we’re in for some real shootouts here. Don’t know about Makabu but Chakhkiev will be the first to drop out of the picture here….something’s missing there… either chin or stamina….something.

  4. Eric 07:15am, 10/20/2015

    The cruiserweight division was the only division outside of the original 8 that made any sense. When the cruiserweight division was introduced back in 1979, most top heavyweights were well over 200lbs. I think boxing needs to seriously think about changing their traditional weight classes and maybe make their weight classes similar to those used by MMA. Generations have certainly gotten bigger and a true “light heavyweight” is closer to the 205lb limit used by MMA rather than the 175lb ceiling used in boxing.

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