Former American amateur standout Matt Godfrey gets his first shot at a major title on Saturday. Godfrey faces Marco Huck for a cruiserweight trinket.
No truly big fights this weekend, but a couple of notable big boy fights, one in the cruiserweight division and one at heavyweight. Both fights are on Saturday.
Cruiserweights - 12 Rounds
Marco Huck v. Matt Godfrey
Huck (29-1, 22 KO) has become probably the most popular and consistently entertaining fighter in the cruiserweight division, with only a TKO-12 loss to Steve Cunningham in 2007 blemishing his record. He's won twice this year, beating Adam "Swamp Donkey" Richards and Brian Minto, two guys who were coming down from heavyweight and didn't pose major threads. Last year, he beat Ola Afolabi and Victor Ramirez, plus he knocked out two previously-unbeaten fighters (Vitaliy Rusal and Geoffrey Battelo). So he's on quite a roll right now, plus he'll have home field advantage in Germany, where the Serbian-born banger has fought every fight of his pro career except for two.
The 29-year-old Godfrey (20-1, 10 KO) is a pretty big underdog in this one. "Too Smooth" hasn't fought in 11 months, as a fight or two fell through along the way and kept him out of action. Promoted by Jimmy Burchfield in the northeast, he's making his second trip to Germany. The first resulted in a decision loss to Rudolf Kraj in 2008. Here are some snippets from that one:
Godfrey was an amateur star, building up a career record of 194-23 before going pro. He fought at middleweight (165) and was the 2000 U.S. National Champion. In 2002, he'd moved up to heavyweight (201) and won the National Golden Gloves tournament, following that in 2004 with another U.S. National championship. He's an accomplished boxer, one thing he does have over Huck.
Can Godfrey deal with Huck's power? Godfrey has stated in stock-talk that Huck has never faced anyone like him, but Huck has been in with better opposition. It's Godfrey who will be going into the fight as the underdog, potentially rusty and facing a guy who can really crack. Huck is one of the division's best punchers, along with Denis Lebedev and Enzo Maccarinelli, and has the deck stacked in his favor for this fight.
If Godfrey and his team are wise, they have watched and re-watched the Cunningham win over Huck. Cunningham and Godfrey aren't exactly alike, but Godfrey can do a lot of the things Cunningham did in that one. It will be, as always, exceptionally hard to get a decision on the road in Germany against a popular, Germany-based fighter, but Huck has flaws. He has a habit of waiting around too much, and Godfrey can combat that with workrate. Huck's conditioning has probably gotten better since the Cunningham fight, but he also hasn't been pressed a whole lot since then, either. In the Cunningham fight, he did tire out.
Godfrey will need a career-best performance. He's not a big puncher, and Huck can take some shots, so the stoppage he might need to win is going to be a tough row to hoe. He has beaten some decent fighters over the years, but Huck is by far the best he'll have fought to date. I think Matt Godfrey is a solid, capable fighter, and perfectly deserving of a title shot, especially when you consider how little I think of title belts in the first place. But there's too much going against him. Huck is on a roll, he's powerful, he's at home, and Godfrey could suffer some ring rust early. He'll do better than Richards and Minto, but it won't be enough to get the W. Also keep in mind that if Godfrey does have some early success, Huck has never been afraid to get a little rough. It's a big task for Godfrey on Saturday. Huck TKO-11
Heavyweights - 12 Rounds
Tomasz Adamek v. Michael Grant
This week, there have been a lot of pieces written about Michael Grant from writers who were around to see his rise and fall. That rise was full of promise. The fall was swift, brutal, and decisive. Graham Houston had a great piece at ESPN, for instance. In that article, Mr. Houston relates that Grant's then-manager, Don Turner, felt he could wind up as the greatest heavyweight of all-time. "I was on site for the fight in Las Vegas [when Grant blew away Jorge Luis Gonzalez], and I didn't think the comment was as outlandish as it might have seemed," says the world-traveled writer.
Grant's fall came when he faced Lennox Lewis. Having struggled mightily with Andrew Golota in November 1999 (Grant was down on every scorecard when Golota quit in the 10th), the 27-year-old Grant was matched against Lewis in April 2000, and was taken out in two rounds.
That was 10 years and four months ago. In his next fight, Grant was stopped in 43 seconds by Jameel McCline, hitting the canvas on the first punch of the fight and breaking his ankle in the process. He did soldier on, winning eight in a row over mediocre opposition, and was then brutally knocked out by Dominick Guinn in 2003.
And once again, he's fought on. Grant, now 38, is currently riding an eight-fight win streak. But don't get too excited. The best win in that bunch is a pick'em between Paul Marinaccio, Billy Zumbrun and Kevin Burnett. Now he gets a shot at a real comeback fight against Adamek, the former light heavyweight titlist and cruiserweight champion who's looking to march into a fight with one of the Klitschko brothers. Needing experience against a tall opponent, Adamek and Main Events looked up Grant, who at 6'7" and with an 86" reach is still one of the very biggest men in the sport, with a longer reach than either Wladimir or Vitali.
Grant has never taken punches well. At heavyweight, Adamek (41-1, 27 KO) has crumbled Andrew Golota, not that that's the biggest task in the world, struggled a bit with stamina against Jason Estrada, and outpointed Cristobal Arreola. Grant (46-3, 34 KO) could bang in his prime, but that prime was a long time ago. Adamek is a tough guy, but smaller than the men who have knocked out Grant in the past.
There is a small hope that Grant can land a right hand bomb and change this fight's complexion in an instance. Realistically, all money should be put on Adamek getting inside and checking his chin, though. (Actually, no money should be put on this fight at all.) Michael Grant is such a nice guy that I can't in good conscience complain much that he's getting this fight. It'll be good money for him, and even if he loses badly, he played a role in preparing Adamek to reach for the moon against one of the brothers Klitschko, hopefully. Adamek TKO-5