Afolabi says he'll do whatever it takes to beat Huck
After losing than fighting Marco Huck (35-2-1) to a draw, Ola Afolabi (19-2-4) thinks he is ready to finally claim the WBO cruiserweight title when he challenges the German for a thrid time on Saturday night at the Max Schmeling Halle, live on BoxNation.
After two back and fourth encounters - the second a classic - featuring 24 rounds of competitive action Huck, a Serbian-born Berliner, retained the WBO strap both times.
Always exciting Huck took a narrow decision over his slicker rival in 2009. US-based Englishman Afolabi boxed well but could not match the champion's intensity and workrate, especially as he smartly stepped up the pace at the end of the rounds.
Ola worked his way back into mandatory position via picking up the WBO's Interim belt - forcing tough Valery Brudov to retire in five - but could only draw in his thrilling rematch with Huck just over a year ago. Despite another promising start from the challenger, Huck, as he had in the first fight, piled on the pressure down the stretch to retain his title.
Afolabi believes that now it is his time to shine. For that reason, the 33-year-old has brought himself into tremendous shape due to the changes in his preparations leading up to the fight.
Afolabi could finally get the job done but how much can he really do differently from his first two attempts, apart from a touch of stamina too see things through. He has prepared in the Big Bear mountains of California.
"Huck always comes to fight," said Afolabi. "He is a bit like a rebot and just keeps coming. He is actually too tough to know when he has been hurt. I am not going into the fight looking for a knockout. That would increase the risk of over-pacing during the first few rounds. However, I see myself stopping Huck early. Regardless of that, I am going to do whatever it takes to leave the ring a winner."
Huck, 28, turned pro at 19 and his combative and tehnically limited style are not conductive to a long career. His only defeat in the last five years was a creditable one, as he dropped a majority decision to undeafeated Alexander Povetkin in a WBA heavyweight title tilt last year.
This is his 11th defence and Denis Lebedev (SD, 2010) and Firat Arslan (UD, November in his last fight), along with Afolabi, have pushed him close. Is he ready to be taken?
The Afolabi return came around two months after the Povetkin defeat so perhaps Marco came back too rapidly from that 12 rounder.
"After I fought Povetkin it was difficult to find the right motivation for my rematch with Afolabi," said Huck. "However I believe that I actually won the bout, even though it was scored as a majority draw. That won't happen again. I will win in my own backyard. We won't be playing cat and mouse any more. This will be a war - I won't be holding back."