Boxing: Firat Arslan
November, 3, 2012
By Brian Campbell | ESPN.com
Thomas Starke/Bongarts/Getty ImagesCruiserweight titlist Marco Huck, left, had all that he could handle from 42-year-old First Arslan.It will go down in the record book as a unanimous decision win and, depending on what happens from here, might very well be forgotten over time.
But let the truth be told, cruiserweight titlist Marco Huck struggled mightily Saturday night to get past 42-year-old former titlist Firat Arslan in the Serbian-born Huck's adopted home of Germany.
In fact, you could make a strong case that Huck (35-2-1, 25 KOs) didn't deserve the victory at all. Not only was the third scorecard laughable at 117-111 after two cards of 115-113 were read in favor of Huck, I scored it 116-112 in favor of Arslan, who simply outworked the champion.
The 27-year-old Huck is never in a bad fight thanks to his exciting style, and the toe-to-toe battle with Arslan (32-6-2, 21 KOs) was no exception.
But if anyone out there was still holding out hope that Huck could, per se, move up and challenge heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko -- as Huck's promoter recently attempted to hype -- Saturday's fight was a cold, hard reality check.
The 6-foot-2 Huck defaulted on his height and reach advantages by simply abandoning his jab for nearly 12 full rounds, allowing the southpaw Arslan -- whose hand speed wouldn't be confused with fast -- to continually walk right through his limited defense.
Arslan, who fought an intelligent bout, routinely set the pace by crowding Huck with his high guard and backing the champion up to the ropes. From there, he landed a series of accurate left uppercuts at close range, bloodying Huck's nose in the second and ninth rounds.
While Huck landed the harder shots throughout and rebounded in the middle rounds by working well to the body, the majority of the looping left hooks and straight right hands he threw were gobbled up by Arslan's gloves.
Huck never failed to excite and adjusted just enough to give the judges whatever it was they needed to see (and I still don't see it) to award him the decision. But the truth is, Huck's technical skill and the way he was constantly put on his heels by a 42-year-old fighter felt amateur for a champion fighter of his accolade.
It was also a victory Huck badly needed to close a 2012 that hasn't necessarily left his stock pointing upward.
Huck looked good in his February debut at heavyweight only to drop a debated majority decision to second-tier titlist Alexander Povetkin. He then took home a debated draw in a May cruiserweight defense against Ola Afolabi.
There's no doubt that Huck could make a nice living as an exciting heavyweight attraction should he decide to make the full-time move. But to be more than that, the fighter and his team should spend a little less time using words like Klitschko and a little more time back at the old drawing board.