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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Huck-Nakash Preview

Ran "Sweet Dreams" Nakash takes on Marco "Capt'n" Huck on Saturday for Huck's WBO cruiserweight title. The bout will be held at Gerry Weber Stadium in Halle, Germany. It features a contest of two men who are skilled in other combat sports. Huck came up as a kickboxer. Nakash is the chief instructor for the Israeli Defense Force in Krava Maga.

The litany of advantages possessed by Huck (31-1, 23 KOs) is the story heading into this fight. Huck, who has faced the stiffer competition throughout his career, has at least a three and half inch height advantage. Huck is six years younger, yet has more experience inside the ropes, as he has participated in seven more fights than Nakash and nearly 100 more rounds. The fight is being held in Huck's adopted country. The hometown advantage is perceived to be more pronounced in Germany than in other places. And finally, Nakash took this fight on short notice.

Huck is a master of range. He stands up straight and keeps a high guard when his opponent is within striking-distance. He often uses his jab as a range-finder early in the fight. Then, when he has determined distance, he propels forth in a burst of powerful combination punches.

But Huck is a flawed fighter. He is technically poor. The champion thrives when he is on the attack. Nakash must keep the pressure on Huck. The beltholder is not an adept counterpuncher. As long as Nakash is in range and punching, Huck will keep his hands up. This serves two purposes. As long as Huck's hands are up, he can't hit Nakash with a powerful shot. And, with his high guard, Huck's body will be open.

Fortunately for Nakash, his strategy and his strengths match up nicely. Coming forward and delivering body punches are two areas where he excels. Huck's only loss was to Steve Cunningham in 2007. Cunningham is a tall fighter with a tremendous reach, whose strategy was to box. None of that applies to Nakash here. But Cunningham did work the body early and used effective head movement during Huck's bull rushes that inevitably morph into combinations. It is crucial for Nakash to avoid taking the brunt of one of Huck's wild and damaging blows.

Huck's last fight against the shorter Denis Lebedev this past December is more instructive. Lebedev, a southpaw, was able to target Huck's body often, cracking his rib in the fourth. Lebedev, who lost a contentious split-decision, forced Huck on the backfoot in the later rounds. Whichever fighter is moving forward, Huck or Nakash, will give a good indication as to the identity of the eventual victor.

But others have tried to press Huck and failed. Adam Richards did, but Huck was able to keep the Swamp Donkey on the end of his punches about a year ago. Huck faced Brian Minto two months later. Minto came forward the entire fight, but lacked the hand speed, power, and defensive ability to threaten Huck. He also didn't throw enough punches at the champion. Matt Godfrey, who fought Huck last August, gave ground to Huck, who connected in the fifth round with an unruly punch in the middle of a combination, which, of course, was preceded by a bull rush. Godfrey was stopped soon after in the same stanza.

Nakash (25-0, 18 KOs), who has massive muscular legs, will have to bully the bully. Cunningham-Huck was a rough fight. Nakash will need to make this bout rough as well. One issue for Nakash is his weight. He traditionally weighs in over the cruiserweight limit of 200 pounds. Last July, after his fight against Victor Barragan, Nakash acknowledged it was an issue, but asserted that he could make the weight, arguing that he had a contract for a higher limit for that contest. Nakash has only fought as many as ten rounds in a fight twice, including his last contest. He admitted that going ten rounds "was hard."

While this is an enormous step up against a gritty, seasoned champion, Nakash does have the game to pull off the big upset. This bout is scheduled for 12 rounds.

1 comment:

  1. Both Huck,Nakash and cruiserweights in general
    tend to be unfortunately outside my rader;it really is unfortunate because of all the incredible fights we've seen by cruiserweight/small heavy's(Rocky Marciano & Co.).Checking Nakash's weight's on boxrec,it looks like,he squeaked in under 200 a couple of times.I'd like to see them raise the weight a few pounds-and the Klitcho type monstrosity heavy's try the NBA;for me,they tend to be as boring as they're big.Anyway,I'm paying attention to this one.