By Graham Houston
After tough, gruelling 12-rounders in his last two fights, Marco Huck gets what on paper should be a somewhat less arduous assignment when he defends his WBO cruiser title against Adam Richards, a Houston-based 29-year-old from Tennessee, in the main event in Berlin on Saturday. Huck had to dig deep in his fights with Victor Ramirez and Ola Afolabi. He was under pressure in these contests, and the bout with Afolabi was surprisingly close on the cards. Ramirez is a very strong, durable aggressor while Afolabi has underrated skills and power and is also a tricky, crafty sort of fighter — these always had the potential to be fights that would test Huck to the limit. Richards seems to me to be a straightforward type of fighter, not as physically powerful as Ramirez or as dangerous and artful as Afolabi. Huck has been able to get good results against this type of opponent.
I don’t see this as an easy fight for Huck, though. Richards has shown how serious he is about his boxing by bringing a strength and conditioning coach on board to help him to get down to 200 pounds after boxing as a heavyweight. He has a topnotch trainer in Ronnie Shields, and Richards showed that he can fight when losing very gamely in the eighth and last round of a bruising battle with the bigger Chazz Witherspoon in November 2008. I thought that Richards won the early rounds but Witherspoon wore him down. He has a good amateur background, and with a trainer of the calibre of Ronnie Shields you can be sure that Richards possesses boxing ability.
Richards seems unintimidated by Huck or the Berlin setting. He held his own in a press-conference staredown and got into a pushing match with the German boxer at Friday’s weigh-in.
Although Huck is deservedly a clear favourite, I think that the first few rounds could be quite explosive. Richards is an aggressive type of fighter and I can picture him steaming into Huck and backing up the champion. Huck will keep a high guard in the manner of German-trained boxers, allowing Richards to expend some energy before coming back with barrages of punches.
My first thinking was that this could be a mismatch but I have come around to the view that Richards is going to give a very good account of himself. I don’t think it will be enough, though. Huck is big, strong and heavy handed, and he is well-accustomed to boxing in championship bouts while Richards has never been past eight rounds.
I will be astonished if this fight goes the distance. I think there will be heavy punches thrown and landed on both sides but Huck has the experience of being in long, demanding fights, and I think he will be better able to pace himself and to judge when it is best to attack and when to defend.
Richards’s heart and his willingness to gamble could see him taking rather more than he is giving as the fight progresses. I see Huck capturing control of the fight by the sixth round and coming on to overpower the gritty underdog with an accumulation of punches, perhaps some time around the eighth round.