By David P. Greisman
Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City - Nikola Sjekloca thought he could go to war with Sakio Bika. It didn’t take long for him to learn otherwise — and he still had several rounds left to try to survive the sustained onslaught.
Sjekloca survived, but he wouldn’t be successful at much beyond that. Bika beat the fight out of Sjekloca and defeated him via unanimous decision. The scorecards were as clearly in his favor as the action was in the ring; the judges saw it 120-108, 119-109 and 118-112.
With the win, Bika won an elimination bout that ostensibly sets him up for a second shot at World Boxing Council super middleweight titleholder Andre Ward, who topped Bika via unanimous decision in 2010.
Perhaps that’s why Sjekloca, who had only knocked out seven of his opponents in his 25 wins, came out throwing heavy shots. The always gritty Bika was more than willing to oblige, digging heavy shots to the body and landing hard hooks upstairs. But as Sjekloca began to run out of steam, Bika continued to come at him with full force and brutal intentions. At one point toward the end of the fourth, Bika landed a big right uppercut, then returned to the well again and again.
The action slowed in the fifth and the sixth. For Bika, it was a rest to get more energy for down the stretch. For Sjekloca, it was a reality for the remainder of the bout — he would be forced to attempt to dig deep, all while trying to keep himself from being beaten up. Sjekloca couldn’t bang with Bika. While on offense, he couldn’t hurt Bika. And while on defense, he couldn’t stop all of what Bika was bringing.
It was a mugging.
“I feel really good,” Bika said afterward. “I had a great plan and a great training camp. I worked hard and I pushed him. But a big round of applause to him. He was undefeated. He was coming to fight. This was a great opportunity for me. Now I want to fight any of the great fighters: Lucian Bute, Andre Ward, any of them.”
Bika, a 33-year-old originally from Cameroon but now billed as fighting out of Sydney, Australia, is now 31-5-2 with 21 knockouts. Sjekloca, 34, of Budva, Montenegro, is now 25-1 (7 KOs).