The third installment of fights between cruiserweight rivals Ola Afolabi and WBO 200lb titlist Marco Huck promises to be the most thrilling as the Briton and German fighters have both declared war.
Alan Dawson – London
Roy Jones Jr survived a ten round cruiserweight bout at the Atlas Arena in Lodz, Poland on Saturday, June 30 and, although he boxed in a one-paced fashion, fought off balance and was dropped in round six by erstwhile unbeaten Pawel Glazewski, 29, he walked away the winner having received a generous split decision verdict. Post-fight, in an arena filled with gold confetti, Jones Jr then reiterated his desire to become world champion at 200lbs.
Official verdict: Jones Jr via split decision.
Walking out to his own rap anthem Y’all must have forgot, fight veteran Roy Jones Jr made his way to the Polish ring hoping to rewind the years to when he had to climb weight classes… from junior middleweight, all the way to heavyweight, just to find a competitive fight.
Regarded to be one of the finest athletes to have graced a modern boxing ring, the skill-set of Jones Jr, at 43, has deteriorated rapidly since his prime form at the swing of the new millennium but, versus undefeated hometown favourite Pawel Glazewski, he was boxing a pugilist not famed for possessing weaponry that could properly threaten Jones’ ultimate weakness in his final years as a fighter – his chin – but that still did not spare him from receiving a canvassing.
In the opening session Jones Jr denied Glazewski a route to scoring shots as the European struck his arms when he flurried. Jones varied his own jab, throwing to the mouth and to the gut, but was more successful with his secondary shots rather than the introductory punches. Jones controlled the centre of the ring… well, he was forced to, as his foot speed was nil, however, this mattered not as Glazewski’s attack was largely ineffectual at the beginning of the contest.
In round two, Jones attempted to wind up a bolo but was simply out-gunned by a fighter 14 years his junior, yet, in round three, Jones found a way into the bout as he appeared the more superior boxer when working from the inside region, sending short, sharp, single-fire shots to the body. His slow speed of foot was in contrast to the way he could let his hands go but Jones was void of confidence whenever an incoming shot landed cleanly.
Self-assurance in the American’s game rose by the fight’s midway point and, like he had in round one against Denis Lebedev in Moscow in May, 2011, he showboated. And, while he had crept ahead of his opponent, there were worrying signs for the final half of the contest… namely: he was breathing out of his move and his hands were getting lower and lower.
In round six, and just as Jones was beginning to look at his best he could produce at this stage of his career, he was knocked to the floor with a left hook, a move that had been rehearsed by Glazewski in the preceding rounds, but one which had caused little damage as it previously fizzed harmlessly in front of Jones’ face. Not this time. Jones, though, rose to his feet and attempted to box on.
Able to throw only sporadically, with Glazewski having no issue taking Jones’ power, combined with Roy’s own lack of balance and speed, it was clear Jones – if it had not been years ago – is no longer a ten round fighter and, heading into the concluding stanzas, the Pole was in control.
Midway through round nine, Jones caught Glazewski flush with a sweet uppercut, again while on the inside, but again it was something that did not rattle the undefeated opponent, who returned fire with an abundance of hooks. In the final session, Jones was tagged again with a left hook he had no defence for all fight.
Throughout the fight, Jones was largely dominated by a fighter he would have mauled during his heyday, yet, bizarrely, he was awarded a decision win by the three ringside judges which, presumably, sets Roy up for a shot at current WBC world champion at 200lbs, Krzysztof Wlodarczyk, in a match that would also be staged in Poland.
“I still want to be cruiserweight champion,” concluded Jones, defiantly.
Elsewhere on the bill, welterweight Rafal Jackiewicz decisioned Luca Michael Pasqua, Nate Campbell shut out Krzysztof Szot in an eight round junior welterweight bout and Jameel McCline dropped a unanimous ten round fight to Artur Szpilka
Gary Shaw – Promoter
It’s very worrisome where our sport is heading these days with the recent array of fighters testing positive for banned substances. The sport is getting killed with all these fights being canceled and I hope the networks are not going to lose interest. As promoters, we do our best to make sure everyone is abiding by the rules. I’m happy that the commissions are stepping up their stance on catching fighters cheating because the safety of the fighter should always come first.
It’s unfortunate that in Lateef Kayode’s first major opportunity, he had to fight on what appears to be an uneven playing field. I have a lot of respect for Antonio Tarver and would be very disappointed to find out that he knowingly took performance enhancing drugs.
It is my hope that Tarver requests that the B sample will be tested and will show that Tarver was clean. However, if the sample comes back dirty, then the commission should take appropriate action. It was a very close fight as it was ruled a split draw, but now that we have been informed by the California State Athletic Commission about the alleged drug use, I’ll have to talk to Lateef and his management team to see what we’ll do to resolve this matter.
In addition, the horrible scoring by the judges, the excessive use of PEDs, and the promoters’ inability to work together, is only going to kill this sport. Something needs to be done and major changes need to be made… and the time is now.
The boxing business is getting worse by the day and we are losing fans by the minute. Boxing has been around longer than any other sport and we must keep the integrity of the game pure. I implore the commissions around the United States to take severe action against any fighter who doesn’t abide by the commissions’ standards. We need a strict drug testing policy to rid the sport of those that don’t want to play by the rules, and we need more competent judges.
On The Beak – Admin
WBO interim cruiserweight titlist Ola Afolabi watched with interest on Saturday night as 200lb contenders Antonio Tarver and Lateef Kayode squared off in a twelve round bout at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California. Afolabi, though, regarded his two bouts with Marco Huck, who he regards to be the true cruiserweight champion, to be pugilism of a higher quality. The Briton’s manager even stated Ola would welcome a tussle with Lateef or Antonio.
(Embedded video above credit – YouTube, Gstaron76)
“It was a somewhat entertaining fight as they’re on similar levels, but both of my world title bouts with Marco Huck were much better fights. Marco is considered the best champion and we are truly world-class cruiserweights, competing at a higher level than either Tarver or Kayode,” said the Los Angeles resident Afolabi. “I would be very interested in the opportunity to defend my WBO title in this country against either of them on Showtime.”
Afolabi and Huck battled in a fight of the year candidate on Saturday, May 5 in Erfurt, Germany, in what was a sensational action-packed bout that was scored a draw at the conclusion of the memorable twelve round clash.
Said Tom Loeffler, managing director of K2 Promotions: “We all thought Ola beat Huck… it was a war and a huge event in Germany. I commend Showtime for showing this cruiserweight fight as the main event of their show, I know Ola would fight either Lateef or Antonio.”
Originally from London, England, Afolabi has trained in recent years at the Wild Card Boxing Gym in Hollywood.
“Ola has shown his interest in fighting the best cruiserweights in the world and has traveled all over Europe in the last four years to do so. It would be great to have him fight in the US again, now that the cruiserweights have been showcased and caught the attention of the US boxing fans.
Denzil Stone – Atlantic City
Lateef Kayode and Antonio Tarver were due to engage in a timeless youth versus experience duel on Saturday, June 2 but, the Home Depot Center in Carson bout had an edge… as Tarver – an announcer on Showtime – had been openly critical of Kayode’s style, something the latter did not take kindly too. Considering the bad blood, what transpired seemed to be anticlimactic as, in a fight of two halves, neither man emerged triumphant…
(Embedded video above credit – YouTube, ShoSports)
Tarver (29-6-1, 20ko) retained his IBO cruiserweight world title, but may well have relinquished it should he have maintained the sub-standard form he displayed during the contest’s initial going. Kayode (18-0-1, 14ko), commanded authority for the majority of the fight’s first half, forcing the Magic Man into a defensive shell that lacked sparkle and it was only in round five, where Tarver rattled Lateef’s foundations, when he was able to finally gain momentum, finish strong and make a case for a share of the spoils.
Antonio received one score of 115-113, another of 113-115 and one even split of 114-114.
Words: Robert Delgado – Los Angeles
Photos: Esther Lin/Showtime
While Lateef Kayode attracted a high-ranked international standing for his powerful cruiserweight performances, one man who believed there remained room for improvement was perpetually placed at ringside, on the announcement table, in the form of the IBO world champion in the same weight class; Antonio Tarver. Kayode did not take kind to criticism, so now Tarver aims to show him, in the ring, on Saturday, June 2 at Carson’s Home Depot Center.
Explaining the beef he has with Tarver, undefeated Kayode (18-0-0, 14ko) said: “I have something to prove to Antonio Tarver, [who has] never fought anyone like me. I’m going to prove that all the things he said about me were wrong.”
Trained by Freddie Roach at the renowned Wildcard Boxing Club in Hollywood, Kayode continued: “He said all my punches were sloppy… he said I’m not fighting with any spirit. Every time I fight on ShoBox he says the same thing. He said he’s just doing his job, but when I was doing good and connecting on my punches he just quiets down and says nothing. He only concentrates on my mistakes.”
Tarver (29-6-0, 20ko) claims to be “surprised” by Kayode’s reactions to his appraisals. He said: “I’ve got to see it with my own eyes and tell it how I see it. He’s a guy who is ranked high and if he wasn’t worthy, then I wouldn’t be fighting him [but] it’s not all about him. We all need to go back to the gym every time.
“What I was telling him were the things that I saw that he could have improved on. I’m not thinking of him being able to hit somebody hard or whatever. I’m looking at the intangibles that you need to be a world-class fighter and he could not understand that.
“He showed his inexperience and his youth by getting all emotional and out of whack approaching me and confronting me. Right there that tells me that his emotions got the best of him and now he’s bit off more than he can chew. So now instead of trying to tell him what I thought he should do to improve, now I’ve got to show him.”
Kayode will certainly be making a step-up in class when he looks to deconstruct ring veteran Tarver, a tricky 43-year-old southpaw with a good resume consisting of wins over Danny Green, Clinton Woods, Roy Jones Jr and Glen Johnson but Nigerian pugilist Kayode is not fazed at Tarver’s accomplishments and is banking on becoming the only man to inflict a knockout defeat onto Antonio: “If this fight were in the streets, I know I would win. I’m going to knock him out in the fifth round or the sixth round.”
Tarver is not intimidated by Kayode’s power: “I’m ready for whatever Lateef Kayode can bring,” he stated.
“If he thinks he’s going to be the bully in this fight, then he’s got another thing coming. If he thinks he’s going to bring power to this fight, he’s going to find out early that he’s got another thing coming. He better have an A, B, C, D plan, because it’s going to take more than one game plan to beat me, and just coming with power isn’t going to do it, because I’ve felt power punchers before and I’ve knocked them out. I’ve fought bullies before and I’ve knocked them out. I’ve fought the very best in the world and I’ve beat them.
“I have confidence in my ability and I’m a sharp-shooter. I’m trying to hit that kidney and I’m trying to hit that chin and I’m accurate. So you don’t have to worry about me missing. I’m going to be on point. I’m going to beat [him] down with my defense. I’m going to work for the knockout.”
Petra Kirsch – Gelsenkirchen
Cruiserweight champion of the WBO; Marco Huck, 27, has issued a riposte to Vitali Klitschko‘s trainer Fritz Sdunek‘s statement that the dominant heavyweight would eat Huck alive. The Käpt’n, who is 0-1-1, 0ko in 2012, believes either Klitschko would experience problems if Marco was served up as an opponent and scoffed at the level of fighter Vitali is currently considering for his next match-up.
“I respect Mr Sdunek a lot but I am surely no snack for either Klitschko brother,” Huck stated, before claiming that Vitali would only be challenged by himself, and not the shortlist put to the Ukrainian likely headed by contender Manuel Charr. “I guess there was a mistake in the translation. You only have to look at all the names currently discussed as possible opponents for Vitali for September to know that I would be a far better option than any of the guys they are talking about. At least I always come to fight.”
Huck has already fought twice in 2012 and is yet to record a win. In his most recent outing, he was inseparable from 200lb rival Ola Afolabi, a regular sparring partner for both Klitschko siblings; Wladimir and Vitali. And, earlier in the year, Huck lost a disputed decision to Aleksandr Povetkin in what was his first trip in the heavyweight division.
“I know that I didn’t have my best day against Ola Afolabi – but I hung in there and defended my title. A fight against either Klitschko brother would be a completely different story. Afolabi was a mandatory fight, so I did what I had to do. If Fritz Sdunek wants to know what a fight between me and Vitali would look like he should watch the tape of me beating up Alexander Povetkin. That is the kind of Marco Huck Vitali would need to be ready for. And he would look as clumsy as Povetkin who was a huge favourite against me as well.”
Huck continued: “Instead, Vitali prefers to pick some kind of vegetable from the patch which is known as WBC world ratings. Fritz Sdunek was quoted saying I shouldn’t even talk about a Klitschko fight. With all due respect, Mr Sdunek, you mentioned my name and brought it up right now. And I think it’s because you know that none of the tomato cans Vitali is negotiating at the moment brings as much to the table as I do.”
Petra Kirsch – Gelsenkirchen
WBO cruiserweight world champion Marco Huck, 27, engaged in a fight of two halves with challenger Ola Afolabi, 31, at the Massehalle in Erfurt on Saturday, May 5 as Afolabi’s skill outshone Huck in rounds one to five only for Huck’s power to see him mount a macho comeback in the contest’s latter half. There were no knockdowns but the 12th became a contender for round of the year as both fighter’s went all in, only for a majority draw to be announced.
Official verdict: Majority draw (115-113 to Huck, 114-114, 114-114).
Walking out to the distinctive Favela melodies of classic Baile Funk – the unmistakeable sounds of the Copacabana ghettos in Brazil – it was clear reigning cruiserweight world champion Marco Huck had one thing in mind; to drag fast-improving 200lber Ola Afolabi into a street fight. Huck did just that when challenging Aleksandr Povetkin for the ‘Regular’ WBA heavyweight title in his most recent outing but was denied glory due to polarising judging but, in his first round back at cruiser, he fought tentatively as Afolabi controlled the pace, style and distance in the opening three minutes.
Captain Huck, a pug notorious for fighting more actively in the final 30 seconds of each round, threw too little shots to actually perturb his opponent from attack and so Afolabi sent thumping body shots into each side of Huck’s midsection, perhaps in an attempt to prevent any late onslaught. What may have attracted the attention of judges at ringside was one thunderous power punch from Huck (that Ola took extremely well – his sparring duties for the Klitschko brothers perhaps serving him well) but that was balanced by Afolabi seemingly flooring Huck at the round’s end. The Briton, though, was left questioning the referee why it was not given as a knockdown.
Afolabi’s shot selection was astute and his jabbing was particularly exquisite. Both fighters had clearly improved markedly since their first duel in 2009 (a competitive distance fight edged by Marco) but, from the first quarter of their rematch, it was Ola who was in control, reducing Huck to bleeding from his nose and mouth. Entering the second quarter, Afolabi continued his domination… his careful dismantling of Huck who, despite his best efforts to fight in the alleyways in Erfurt, was finding it an arduous task actually landing on a mobile target.
Nailing Huck with troubling uppercuts, Afolabi also landed jabs to the abs, right hands to the temple and pawing gloves through a weakening guard. When Huck attempted an attack, Afolabi easily glided away from danger, showing plentiful upper body movement and frustrating the home fighter. At fundamental levels, Huck was just getting out-skilled and, largely, schooled. In the sixth round, Huck landed one of his most meaningful punches and certainly one of the hardest overall, as he scored an uppercut that would have been labeled hellacious should he have been facing any number of the other cruiserweights but Afolabi was unfazed, underwhelmed and proving himself to be a tough OG.
A mental game ensued at the beginning of the second half of the contest. Slugs were exchanged… Afolabi with his trusted right hand and Huck with his typical flurry but the change in pace and fighting style was an un-necessary one for Ola, who had been dominating when he was boxing. In a punch-for-punch brawl, Huck traditionally excels.
Nicknamed ‘Capn’, Marco could easily be renamed ‘Left Hook’ Huck such was his ability to tee off from the wide angles whilst also combining the punch with straight rights. By the eighth round, Afolabi’s movement had deteriorated and so Huck’s accuracy improved.
Gameplans were vital in Huck v Afolabi II. Ola dominated when he was disciplined in the first five rounds and stuck to his boxing skills, but when he dug himself into the trenches, he was outgunned by Huck, whose famous final 30 second bursts became so intense that at the end of round nine he almost finished the fight. Afolabi was left covering up as Huck gave the Los Angeles-based Londoner a shellacking. Should Huck have continued that motif into the tenth, the same score would have appeared, but the exchanges were too even to split the combatants.
With Huck’s one fight foray at heavyweight, there were question marks over whether he would be conditioned enough having shed 20lbs+ to return to cruiser, however, in the championship rounds, Huck grew in strength. So much so, that in the final stanza, he did as he so long desired to – got into a Baile Funk ruckus – as he and Afolabi fired so many cannon balls into each others frames that the 12th will no doubt go down as a round of the year contender.
Neither fighter was rewarded for their grueling work as no victory was announced, rather, a majority draw. Considering the different styles of both men, the thrilling climax and their now two-fight history, a third showdown must surely be booked. With the draw, Huck and Afolabi moved to 34-2-1, 23ko and 19-2-4, 9ko respectively.
Photo credit: Karina Hessland
Alan Dawson – London
There were two coronations at the Oldham Sports Centre in Lancashire, England on April 21 as Derry Mathews de-throned ex British lightweight champion Anthony Crolla and Jon Lewis Dickinson overcame Matty Askin for the English cruiserweight title. Crolla had no answer for all the chin-crunching uppercuts Mathews enforced and, while the stoppage was called for far too early, Derry was clearly in the ascendancy.
Official verdict: Mathews by sixth round TKO.
At the time of press, On The Beak dubbed Emiliano Marsili’s triumph over Derry Mathews a “massacre” but Dirty Derry rebounded this weekend with a donnybrooking technical knockout win, halting the rise of Mancunian lightweight Anthony Crolla.
Boxing in red, white and with a $ on his seat, Crolla took control of the centre of the ring, was the one taking the forward steps and executed a solid jab. His opponent Mathews – in blue and white – had a pleasing blue collar work-rate and thumped Crolla with multiple flurries. In the second round, Mathews stung Crolla with body blows before clinching onto his man and leaning down – a classic Klitschko trick – in order to deplete his opponent of energy.
At the beginning of the third, Crolla – who had never before been knocked down as an amateur or professional – suffered his first canvassing when Mathews rocked Crolla with a right upper counter. Million Dollar responded with machismo, fighting his way out of trouble rather than attempting to keep himself out of harm’s way and limiting Mathews’ gusto. The fist-swinging recklessness left both fighters open but it was Crolla who sustained a severe cut, in a problematic place; just below the eyebrow.
The difference between Crolla and Mathews was ultimately that of punch resistance as Mathews was able to absorb whatever Crolla threw at him – whether it was head or body – but, by the end of the fourth round, it was Crolla had been dropped and cut.
Fighting with a warrior’s instinct that has become typical for a Joe Gallagher product, Crolla engaged in warfare with Mathews. Both fighters picked their shots well but, while Crolla crouched and lingered on the inside, Mathews rattled his skull by unloading with power to each side of the brain-case.
Crolla’s defence abandoned him at the unfortunate moments when Mathews was piecing together brutally powerful combinations. When Crolla responded by dispatching heavy leather, Mathews would talk to his opponent during split-second respites. Crolla had the upper hand for a majority of the sixth round but, with less than 30 seconds left on the round clock, Mathews shook Crolla’s legs up with a head-bound left that backed the former champion onto the ropes. The consequent bombardment was enough to inspire the referee to intervene and stop Crolla – controversially – on his feet.
It was unfortunately what is commonly perceived to be a ‘British stoppage’. From referee John Keane, it came prematurely as there were just four seconds left till the minute’s break, it was only the head shot that hurt Crolla and the subsequent punches were either parried, avoided or not struck with the necessary venom to call an end to a fight that had been shaping up to be a fight of the year contender.
“I thought it could have been stopped earlier on,” said Mathews to Sky Sports One after the official announcement. “It’s the best [domestic] division out there with Ricky Burns and Kevin Mitchell but I want to make a defence of this [the Lonsdale belt].
“I was too strong [and to be British champion] I’m delighted,” he concluded.
Mathews rose to 30-6-1, 16ko while Crolla slumped to 23-3-0, 9ko.
Elsewhere on the card, one of Britain’s most promising prospects regardless of weight division – Matty Askin – was defeated for the first time in his career as the Central Area cruiserweight titlist failed in his attempt to add the English belt to his honours roll. He was unstuck by Jon Lewis Dickinson, a former champion of the popular Prizefighter franchise, who amassed a healthy lead on all three of the judges’ scorecards.
Official verdict: Dickinson by decision (97-93, 97-93, 98-93).
Trainer Bob Shannon will hope his pre-fight declaration that the match-up with Jon Lewis Dickinson will be a career-defining fight for his man, Matty Askin, will turn out to be a false prophecy as the popular Blackpool basher did not seem his usual powerful headhunting self and lost a ten round decision to the new English cruiserweight titlist.
From the off, Dickinson appeared the more comfortable as he unleashed effortless orthodox jabs and uppercuts. That is not to say Askin was substandard… no, when his staple power shots were called upon he was able to pierce Dickinson’s upright guard at times but for the duration of the bout this was the exception rather than the rule. And, in round two, Geordie Jon Lewis did the same to Askin’s shield – with a jab. Askin became over-reliant on the overhand right, perhaps looking to punish and even put Dickinson down early, which was to head coach Bob Shannon’s chagrin who reminded Matty between rounds he was not following their game-plan.
Askin began rounds well. In the fourth, for example, he came out the traps loading up on a chin-checking right hand as well as cracking the ribs with lefts. When Dickinson stepped inside, he’d be met with a stiff jab but as stanzas entered the second and third minutes, Dickinson took over and it was his second/third shots that were the more eye-catching and, troubling for Askin, the more damaging as he returned to his stool prior to the fifth with claret smeared over his upper lip, Monroe and his philtrum.
Dickinson’s success came down to only throwing solitary shots during in-fighting when he’d tuck a hook into the midsection. When boxing from mid-range, he’d throw in two and three punch combinations which boosted his shots landed statistic. The jab began his moves, he bossed the tempo, was oft the first to get his shots off and was cutting Askin up as a laceration opened below the Assassin’s eye in the fifth.
Dickinson’s shot selection was superior to Askin’s until moments in the eighth where, instead of looking to drop Dickinson with the overhand right, he’d pound Jon Lewis’ ribs with right hooks before sending uppercuts to the floorboards of his roof. Such was the one-sided nature of the fight, Askin had to seek a knockout in the ninth and tenth if he were to steal the victory, however, whilst he fought with intent and urgency in the final stanza – pummeling each side of Dickinson’s body – it was not enough to significantly hurt the 25-year-old from County Durham.
In a 50/50 fight, Dickinson’s triumph was not unlikely, but the ease in which he was able to outbox Askin will have surprised observers as the Birtley boxer added the vacant English cruiserweight title and a mandatory shot at Enzo Maccarinelli’s coveted British championship to his 2010 Prizefighter glory.
Askin was busier than Dickinson, but it was the latter who landed more often… 105 to Matty’s 67, ensuring the scoring of the bout was straight forward as Jon Lewis Dickinson saw his record move 11-2-0, 3ko while Askin suffered his first defeat and goes down to 13-1-0, 9ko.
Frank Maloney stated to Sky Sports One that victory over an erstwhile undefeated Askin was only the start of a global plan: “This guy is a fighter and he will be champion in Britain and the world in years to come.”
On The Beak – Admin
WBC cruiserweight champion Krzysztof “Diablo” Wlodarczyk (46-2-1, 33ko) doesn’t blame Antonio “Magic Man” Tarver for stepping around him to take a seemingly easier fight. Despite being offered a shot at Wlodarczyk’s prestigious belt, Tarver (29-6-0, 20ko) will instead face the strong, but inexperienced Lateef Kayode on June 2 at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California.
“I was not surprised by his decision,” said Wlodarczyk. “I said to my promoters, Andrew Wasilewski and Leon Margules, that a fight between Tarver and me will never happen. He is an intelligent guy and knows he has a very small chance of surviving 12 rounds with me. He realises I’m too strong and too hungry for him. It’s that simple.”
A champion since 2010 with three successful defenses under his belt, Wlodarczyk says he is in a similar position to the one a young Antonio Tarver once found himself.
“I am looking for any of the big names in my division to fight me, kind of like how Antonio used to follow Roy Jones around and accuse him of taking easy fights while avoiding his toughest opponents. The shoe is on the other foot now though.
“Today, Antonio is an old man, too lazy to make his proper fighting weight, and looking to make money the easiest way possible against the easiest foes. Life is like a circle sometimes. Maybe if I’m between 40 and 50 and still fighting I will someday talk the same bullsh*t.”
Wlodarczyk says he’s not angry with Tarver, but offers him the following advice: “Good luck Antonio, but if this is how you are going to be, then forget talking about serious fights for serious titles!”