By John MacDonald
As Marco Huck 37-2-1 (26KOs) looks to equal the record of 13 WBO cruiserweight title defences with victory over Mirko Larghetti 21-0 (13KOs), the man who set the record, Johnny Nelson 45-12-2 (29KOs), has thrown down the gauntlet to the current champion.
“Give me six months and I’ll take this kid out,” Nelson told BoxingScene.com earlier today.
Nelson called time on his career in 2006 following knee surgery. Since retiring he has carved out a new occupation as a presenter on Sky Sports boxing coverage and co-host of weekly magazine show “Ringside”. Although happily retired, the 47-year-old would lace up the gloves one more time for a shot at the Serbian born, German.
“If they [Sauerland Event, Huck’s promoters] honestly think this kid is that good and they want to build some hype by saying, ‘He’s going to break Johnny Nelson’s record after this with a fourteenth defence,' why not make it against the man who set the record in the first place?"
While some may be concerned about Nelson’s health against the 29-year-old champion, he is adamant he that he would be fit enough despite his advanced years. He believes his awkward, southpaw style would be enough to bring to an end the winning streak of the “Kapt’n”.
“I’m not saying I’m coming back to boxing, what I’m saying is I’d beat Marco Huck now and if the interest is there, I’ll prove it. If you keep yourself in good shape it can be done. Bernard Hopkins is the perfect example. George Foreman did it at 45 against Michael Moorer and I know I can do it.
“In my day I’d have stopped him but now I still know too much for him. I’m in excellent condition but I’m not in fighting shape. It would take me six months to get ready for something like that but I know if I did, I’d beat him and I’d beat him well.”
During Nelson’s reign as WBO champion he defended his title in five different countries and fought the likes of Ruediger May, Guillermo Jones and Ezra Sellers. While Huck has faced the likes of Ola Afolabi and Dennis Lebedev, all of his defences have taken place in his adopted home of Germany, a factor which Nelson believes has allowed him to hold on the belt for so long.
“It’s very hard for people to look at you and think you are the best in the world when you only fight at home. He’s not the finished article, nowhere near it. They’ve [Sauerland] fed him opponents at home to keep this kid world champion, they’ve done a great job with him but they can only keep him at home so long. Once you put him out there against someone who’ll give him a run for his money then he’s got problems.
“I beat the top three Germans when I boxed, over in Germany and I remember [Wilfried] Sauerland saying to me after I beat his last fighter [May] that he’d never make the same mistake again. Would he be tempted to make the same mistake one more time or will his sons [Kalle and Nisse] follow in his footsteps?
“I know I’m not the fighter I once was, I don’t have the hand speed I used to have but I don’t need to be 100%, even at 50% I’ll beat him.”