Marco Huck successfully defended his WBO cruiserweight title this afternoon by defeating Ola Afolabi on scores of 115-113, 115-113 and 116-112. Bad Left Hook scored the fight 115-113 in favor of Huck. As expected, Afolabi was extremely slippery all fight, and Huck had a hard time landing clean shots on the Nigerian-born, American-based Englishman.
Most of the rounds in the fight played out very similarly - Ola would control the outside with his jab, and would land the occasional body shot, but three or four times a round, Huck would come forward with a flurry of powerful punches, exciting the crowd and occasionally scoring. Nearly every round, Afolabi threw more and landed more than Huck, but Huck threw the more powerful shots, and when they connected, they really seemed to snap Afolabi's head back. Afolabi's best chance at victory probably came in the fifth round, where he had Huck on weak legs after a big right hand, but Huck was able to keep clinching until the end of the round and survive. As the fight wore on, Huck more solidly grabbed the momentum, and Afolabi's punches lost a bit of their zip, which may have been the difference in the end.
Possibly not helping his cause, Afolabi also extended his reputation as a new clown prince of boxing, frequently shimmying, jumping, bouncing around, wiggling his shoulders, making faces to the crowd and, at one point, marching like a sousaphone player, in order to taunt and provoke his opponent. Huck did not fall for most of these tricks, stuck to his plan, and was able to do just enough damage to come out with the legitimate win.
After the fight, Afolabi said he didn't agree with the judges and thought he blocked or avoided most of Huck's shots, and complained that Huck fought dirty. While that may be true, the fact of the matter is that when Huck did land clean, his shots were the more effective shots. Visually, it also didn't help that he was often bouncing around on the ropes like a pinball when he was getting hit. For Afolabi, it was a strong showing by the former career sparring partner that proves he belongs on a world stage. For Huck, it was a solid defense that may help set up some bigger fights in the cruiserweight division.
On the undercard, Alexander Povetkin knocked out Leo Nolan in the third round of a stay-busy fight. Povetkin started out slow, but after hurting Nolan a few times, he finally went for the kill near the end of the third round, knocking him down twice up against the ropes. While it was a knockout officially, the referee ignored Nolan's corner walking into the ring to stop the bout, and Nolan just stayed on the ground to get the full 10-count. It was the first fight he had taken with new trainer Teddy Atlas, and unfortunately, I didn't see much noticeable improvement in Povetkin's game. He did come in looking a little less doughy than usual, but Leo Nolan was having no problems connecting with his jab, and if Leo Nolan can do it, then Wladimir Klitschko would have no problem with keeping him on the outside.