Mairis Briedis captures cruiserweight glory versus Marco Huck
The WBC had ordered some sort of cruiserweight title clash between Marco Huck and Mairis Briedis back in December and the status of the fight changed over time. First, it was for the interim WBC cruiserweight title and, after Tony Bellew’s heavyweight contest against David Haye and subsequent hand injury, the champion from Liverpool was named “Champion in Emeritus,” thus freeing up a vacant title for Huck and Briedis.
The two met in Dortmund, Germany, at different stages of their careers. Despite both being 32 years of age, Huck has engaged in about as many world title fights as Briedis has had fights. Briedis is entering his prime, while Huck may be exiting his.
A hostile environment, both from the fans’ and judges’ standpoints, is expected whenever someone challenges Huck on his home turf. It was a different story this time around. Briedis had many Latvian fans in the building, who were noticeably louder than the Huck contingent throughout the fight. Referee Jay Nady was also on Huck’s case, and he definitely earned his paycheck, while working a dirty, ugly affair.
From the opening bell, the fight’s true nature became apparent. Briedis was one step ahead for the whole fight, landing the jab consistently, while Huck plodded forward without much success. The fight probably had more clinches than punches landed, as Huck fell in and Briedis tied, up time and time again. Then there were rabbit punches galore from both sides, further causing a messy display that was nothing to get excited by.
Huck has never been a technical genius but, even on this night, he was cruder than usual. The patented winging flurries to which he’s accustomed, throughout his career, were nowhere to be seen. Briedis boxed a disciplined fight and gave no allowances to the German.
What looked like an exciting fight on paper just got scrappier and uglier as it went on. Huck didn’t seem to have the same overdrive gear with which he could kick into earlier in his career and Briedis didn’t do any more than he had to do.
After the final bell, it seemed clear that Briedis had won nearly every round. The WBC’s open scoring was in effect and Briedis was ahead 39-37 twice, 38-38 after four rounds and 78-74 twice, 79-73 after eight rounds. The final verdict was 118-109, 116-111 and 117-110 in favor of Briedis, making him Latvia’s first-ever world champion. Also on the line was the relatively lightly regarded IBO title, which Huck held beforehand.
The victory may signal a sign of the times, as Marco Huck was among the top fighters in the cruiserweight division for a decade and had a highly successful career both inside and outside the ring. This was the last fight on Huck’s deal with TV channel RTL, meaning the loss might sting a bit more if he had wished for a renewal.
Briedis is a household name in his native Latvia and his fans travel across Europe for his fights. Now there are a number of interesting match-ups available in the cruiserweight division, as well as title defenses at home, which are sure to fill local arenas.
You can follow Rian Scalia on Twitter @rian5ca.