"Kap'n" Huck narrowly defeated Denis Lebedev


By Johnny Walker

WBO champion Marco “Kap’n” Huck of Germany today defended his WBO cruiserweight crown in a back-and-forth encounter with the previously unbeaten Denis Lebedev of Russia at the Max Schmeling Halle in Berlin, Germany.

The first half of the fight saw the challenger working the champion over with hard body shots, seen most vividly in round four, perhaps the Russian’s best round of the fight.  Huck was repeatedly hit with hard punches to the stomach and liver, and was slowing noticeably by the round’s end, despite the exhortations of his trainer, Ulli Wegner, to attack.

Huck was showing signs of desperation in round five, loading up and throwing haymakers that repeatedly missed their mark.  Lebedev’s southpaw stance was giving Huck fits, and the champion’s own style — usually squared up, with his guard held high a la Wegner’s other star pupil, Arthur Abraham — left the Russian an inviting open target to the midsection that he repeatedly went after with straight lefts.

Unfortunately for Lebedev, American referee Eddie Cotton Jr. decided to become perhaps overly involved, twice warning the Russian for low blows that appeared to be legal.  In such a tight fight, a point deduction could have been catastrophic, and Lebedev got away from his game plan after the second warning in the eighth round.

With Cotton’s help, Huck rallied in the last third of the fight, his best round perhaps being the 10th, where he scored with a hard right hand lead and a hard shot to Lebedev’s midsection.  Both fighters’ faces were marked up by this point, Lebedev perhaps getting the worst of it with a cut near his left eye.

Overall, this was a diffcult fight to score, as both fighters appeared wary of each other’s power and turned the proceedings into a chess match, with each fighter probing for ways to penetrate the other’s defences. 

Huck, however, seemed confident of a win by the 12th round, as he mostly danced away from Lebedev, who tried to press the action but was rapidly running out of steam.

Huck’s confidence in the judges was rewarded with a split decision victory, two judges seeing it 115-113, with one dissenter calling it for Lebedev, 112-116.

This writer had it 116-115 Lebedev, who can with some justification feel that he should still be undefeated.