By Cliff Rold
Marco Huck was less than four minutes away from breaking the record for consecutive title defenses at Cruiserweight.
It turned out time was not on his side with Krzysztof Glowacki going upside his head. Fittingly, the typically exciting Huck went out in a battle. At least he can say his US debut was memorable.
In a year without a clear front-runner as Fight of the Year, Glowacki-Huck may have just taken the inside track. The drama was off the charts. Huck fell behind early and was rocked in the first. Glowacki looked done after a knockdown in the sixth only to physically insist on survival. He did it again, keeping his feet in the eighth.
Entering the championship rounds, Huck appeared to be on his way to victory. A knockdown and follow-up assault in the final minute of the eleventh took the fight to another level, providing a classic ending to a bruising battle that reportedly sent both men to the hospital.
Suffering his first loss in the division since being stopped in the final round by Steve Cunningham in 2007, Huck’s streak of defenses holds at 13. He remains tied with the U.K.’s Johnny Nelson. Like Nelson, Huck compiled his numbers with the WBO belt in tow.
Even if he’d acquired the record, Huck wasn’t going to go down as the best Cruiserweight ever or anything. That remains Evander Holyfield without much argument. Even tying for the division record gives Huck his own place in the history of a division born in 1979.
So how do the two record holders stack up? Is there a case that, even tied at 13, Huck can say he surpassed the reign of Nelson?
It depends on what one values.
In terms of longevity, they’re about equal. Nelson’s run was a few months longer but both reigned for approximately six years. Each had a draw in their run (Huck against Ola Afolabi, Nelson against Guillermo Jones) and some close calls along the way. Nelson escaped Germany with a narrow decision over Alexander Petkovic. Huck was lucky to get decisions over Denis Lebedev and Firat Arslan.
The start of their reigns is a close call. Huck defeated the durable, and still contending, Victor Ramirez. Nelson stopped the thrilling Carl Thompson, a fan favorite who still had enough left later to hand David Haye his first loss. The way their reigns ended favors Nelson, who left the game as a reigning titlist.
Neither man secured unification battles along the way and both mainly stayed close to their home base, though Nelson traveled more.
The lack of unification hurts Nelson more. Nelson held his title concurrent to the title reigns of Juan Carlos Gomez and Vasily Jirov and both would have been favored over Nelson. So might have the James Toney who knocked Jirov off. Nelson was never considered the best in his class when it mattered.
Huck was. Entering the fight with Glowacki, Huck’s consistency and quality of opposition had most considering him the class at Cruiserweight. He had a victory over another reigning titlist in Lebedev. Huck might have had some close ones go his way, but he also saw one slip from his grasp that elevated his standing. A 2012 loss to Alexander Povetkin at Heavyweight was controversial.
Huck could have taken a title defense that night instead. He dared for more and appeared to earn the victory. But for that night, Huck might have secured the division record in his last fight. There are reasons to like both men’s title runs in comparison to each other. Huck certainly made a case in his favor.
That case will sit at 13. Only 30, Huck has time to regroup. A rematch with Glowacki would be welcome after their first. The chances that he’ll string another 13 defenses together, even if he can reverse Friday’s outcome, is remote.
History was four minutes away.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene and a member of the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]