For a while, it looked like top cruiserweight Marco Huck was finally going to win an easy one Saturday against his two-time rival Ola Afolabi. This being a Huck-Afolabi fight, though, it was fated to end up close, so it did. But there is no drama after their rubber match, nobody wondering whether Huck got a hometown gift unanimous decision or draw in Germany. The majority decision was fair in a bout where one man controlled the action early and the other couldn't catch up late.
Huck was the one who started so solidly. It was an outstanding performance through eight rounds — he was beating Afolabi to the punch, firing combinations down the middle and around Afolabi's gloves and landing flush, none of that ragged stuff. I had it 7-1 through eight. Afolabi was working the body better than he was doing anything else, and maybe that set up Huck's late fade, but overall he looked sluggish or cautious, like he was not as fresh as his younger opponent after their two wars or was hoping to avoid being gassed late like last time.
Eventually, Huck began to tire, and Afolabi, who fought in a fairly conventional style by his usual herky-jerky standard, began showing some of his improvisational, hands-down, punch-slipping flair. He actually swept the final rounds on my card, including the brawling 10th, the one round that most resembled the kind of action we'd come to expect from these two, not that this one sucked. It was enough to get Afolabi the draw on one card, but the other two judges saw it 115-113 and 117-111. With a lot of rounds on the table, all of those were viable scorecards. But this time, there was no real dispute about who won, and it was Huck, who was terrific early and bad late.
That ought to settle it for this pairing, then. As it happens, there are some very good fights for both men in the cruiserweight division, still. It's too bad that one of them isn't likely to happen, though, because Huck and #2-rated Yoan Pablo Hernandez share the same trainer, Ulli Wegner. As a result, the Germans' wonderful word for "world champion," weltmeister, isn't likely to apply to Huck in the undisputed, lineal sense until Hernandez slips, one guy leaves Wegner's stable or Krzysztof Wlodarczyk otherwise leapfrogs Hernandez. For now, we'll have to settle for Huck in more frustratingly close but fun bouts against the likes of Guillermo Jones or Troy Ross or someone like that. It doesn't sound like a bad consolation. Huck is only 28. He's still got something left in the tank, we can now conclude, after questions about that coming into this trilogy bout.