By Jake Donovan
Saturday's cruiserweight clash between Marco Huck and Dmytro Kucher is all set as both fighters made weight for their headlining act at TUI Arena in Hannover, Germany.
Former long-reigning titlist Huck tipped the scales at 199.5 lbs., while the well-traveled Kucher weighed in at 199.1 lbs.
At stake will be the IBO cuiserweight title, but Huck (39-3-1, 27KOs) remains in search of the greater glory he's long enjoyed.
Born in the former republic of Yugoslavia but raised in Germany, Huck - who recently celebrated his 32nd birthday was forced to settle for a share of the divisional record for most successful title defenses, knotted at 14 with England's Johnny Nelson.
The record was on the verge of falling last August, when he had then-unbeaten challenger Krzysztof Glowacki down and nearly out in the 6th round of their cruiserweight title fight in Newark, New Jersey. The good news is that the bout went on to gain recognition as one of the two very best fights of 2015; however, Huck landed on the wrong side of the time capsule classic when Glowacki recovered and rallied late to score a dramatic stoppage in claiming the title.
Huck has since rebounded in vicious fashion, dominating longtime ring rival Ola Afolabi in a 10th round stoppage earlier this year. The bout was considerably less competitive than their first two encounters - a majority draw in May '12 and a close win for Huck in their June '13 rematch.
For Kucher (24-1-1, 18KOs), it's yet another chance to upset the apple cart as he ends the year with a big fight he's long craved.
The 32-year old boxer from Ukraine hits the road for the seventh time in his past eight fights, a road trip that includes the lone two blemishes on his ledger - a narrow points loss to Ilunga "Junior" Makabu on neutral quarters in Monte Carlo in July '13 and a 12-round draw with Bilal Laggoune in his opponent's Belgium homeland last October.
He was previously tied to potential showdowns with Ovill McKenzie and Rakhim Chakhkiev earlier in the year. Neither fight materialized, the Chakhkiev fallout being a greater disappointment as a win would have put Kucher in line for a crack at newly minted WBC cruiserweight titlist Tony Bellew.
That the McKenzie clash didn't pan out turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The UK-based Jamaican boxer was forced to withdraw from their planned April clash due to illness - and has since retired. Stepping in was former cruiserweight titlist Enzo Maccarinelli, whom Kucher annihlated in a single round this past June in registering his biggest career win to date.
It also put him in line for a crack at another former titlist in Huck, where a win would put him among the very best boxers in a suddenly red hot - yet still criminally overlooked - cruiserweight division that has produced a number of thrillers in 2016.