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21 OCTOBER 2018

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Usyk dominates and stops Huck in WBSS opener

By Steven Bateson


Oleksandr Usyk produced a masterful display as he dominated Marco Huck and stopped him in the tenth round of their WBO Cruiserweight Championship clash and World Boxing Super Series Quarter Final, in Berlin, Germany on Saturday night.


It was the opening night of the 8 man tournament (spanning from September to May next year) and the action did not disappoint as the Olympic gold medalist won every single round and certainly put the rest of the playing field on notice.


Usyk is a great technical boxer and from the outset he used his phenomenal footwork to keep Huck off balance whilst working the body early, sapping the energy of the veteran. Huck had ramped up the ill feeling between the fighters earlier in the week with a shove at the press conference but that was about as close as he got to bothering his Ukrainian foe, who punished him from start to finish for that indiscretion.


Huck was making his 21st world title appearance but the Serbian-born German could not produce any of his trademark salvos as Usyk used the jab to control the action, following up with combinations to head and body as Huck sagged back against the ropes.


Whenever Huck did managed to land anything of note, notably rounds four and five, it was just shrugged off and laughed at by Usyk, before the defending champ fired back with much more precise and damaging punches of his own. Huck was visibly tiring by the end of the fifth round, stamina used to be one of his biggest weapons, and the bodywork from Usyk was showing real signs of paying dividends.


The pace slowed slightly through rounds six and seven but Huck still couldn’t disrupt the rhythm of Usyk and the frustration was etched all over his face. He launched forwards for an attack in round eight but ate a solid left straight/left uppercut combo that rocked him back. Usyk went on the attack but ended up slipping to the floor, which prompted Huck to land a blow whilst his opponent was grounded. Referee Robert Byrd had no choice but to deduct a point.


Huck was a mile behind on the scorecards and a stoppage was his only hope but he was displaying no signs of being able to turn the tide. He mounted a desperate assault in round nine but Usyk avoided any damage, looking as fresh as he did at the beginning of the bout.


Round ten began with Usyk on the front foot and it was clear he was ready to finish proceedings. He battered Huck from pillar to post, hitting him with everything but the kitchen sink as he pummeled him around the ring for well over a minute until the referee showed mercy on Huck and withdrew him.


The Cruiserweight portion of this tournament is brimming with talent but this performance shows exactly why Usyk is the better favourite. His boxing skills are sublime but he also carries enough spite in his punches to cause real damage to anybody who crosses his path. For Huck it is two defeats on the spin and he must now be contemplating retirement. He is eliminated from the tournament and he just does not possess the qualities any more that carried him to thirteen straight world title defenses.


For Usyk he can now sit back and relax. He is scheduled to meet the winner of the Mairis Briedis-Mike Perez ( September 30th) sometime in January where the winner will then advance to the final of the Muhammad Ali Trophy with the WBO & WBC Championships around their waist.


All in all it was a great opening night for all involved in the World Boxing Super Series. The setup was fantastic and the VT’s were top draw. The live streaming left a lot to be desired, however, and one would hope that the live coverage situation will be re-evaluated and addressed before next week’s Super Middleweight opener between Callum Smith and Erik Skoglund. The tournament is a phenomenal idea and boxing fans deserve a consistent platform to watch the action.

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