Sakio Bika: Who Should He Fight Next?

12.07.08 - By Srithar Visuasam: Sakio Bika (26-3-2, 16 KOs) is at an exciting stage of his career at the moment. In the past 24 months, he has fought for the WBC and WBO super middleweight title, fought in an eliminator for the IBF super middleweight title, and most significantly competed and emerged victorious in the third instalment of the boxing television series, The Contender..

After earning his $750,000 USD winner’s cheque from The Contender in November last year, Bika has just had the one bout since. This was in April against journeyman Gustavo Javier Kapusi for the vacant IBF Pan-Pacific Super Middleweight title. Kapusi was unable to escape the first round, Bika winning by KO with the difference in class between the two fighters more than apparent.

Bika, 29, has quite a solid record, but apart from his Contender successes, has yet to achieve a victory of significant status. He has defeated respectable opposition at best though has fought three of the best fighters from the super middleweight division in recent years; former WBC champion Markus Beyer, former WBO king Joe Calzaghe and current IBF champion Lucian Bute, and performed admirably in all encounters. He emerged from these bouts with a technical draw against Beyer (stopped on cuts) and two competitive points decision losses.

His strengths which emerged from these fights were his willingness to go toe to toe with the division’s finest for every second of each fight, relentless aggression and rough house tactics which prevented his opponents from dictating proceedings in large passages. His downside from these bouts were his openness to being countered, lack of strategy with the establishment of his punches and ability to be out pointed at will when his opponent was able to implement his strategy, e.g. Bute v Bika rounds 6-12.

Bika would have learnt plenty from these fights and this was reflected in the Contender late last year with his semi-final victory over Sam Soliman, who outpointed him five years ago. In the final, Bika defeated Jaidon Codrington by an 8th round stoppage in a slugfest that represented a far from textbook style of fight. Bika wore down Codrington by dictating the aggressive pattern of the fight which commenced with a knockdown of Codrington thirty seconds into the first round. The ultra aggressive showdown was what made their bout one of the most explosive fights of 2007 and arguably the most entertaining bout in Contender history.

Sakio Bika has now got to work towards achieving his goal of becoming a world champion. To do this, he needs to be selective of his future opponents who can both help him work on the deficiencies illustrated in his losses and provide him with the experience in which he can go into a title bout with a couple of big wins under his belt.

Let’s look at a few fighters that would be ideal for Sakio to take on to get him to his desired position.

Alejandro Berrio

Former IBF super middleweight champion Alejandro Berrio (28-5, 27 KOs) would present a great fight to watch. Berrio, captured the IBF throne in 2006 after Joe Calzaghe vacated the title following his defeat of American Jeff Lacy. Berrio defeated German Robert Steiglitz in 3 action packed rounds to win the vacant IBF title. In his first scheduled defense, Berrio was defeated by mandatory challenger Lucian Bute by 11th round TKO. Over the course of this fight, Bute routinely found a way to get through Berrio’s defenses and was finally stopped after a barrage of clean blows to the head took its toll on the champ. Since this bout, Berrio has fought twice against pedestrian opposition in his home of Colombia and it’s now time for him to step up his competition.

Bika v Berrio would be a highly entertaining bout and a crowd pleaser. The fighter with the smarter tactical prowess would take the spoils as they both have explosive punching power. Berrio has an excellent ratio of 27 KOs from his 28 wins. This bout presents Bika a chance to defeat a former world champion and implement the tactical skills he has developed against a fighter who has a similar approach to himself.

Markus Beyer

A fight that would settle an unfinished story would be a rematch between Sakio Bika and Markus Beyer (35-3-1, 13 KOs). Fighting for Beyer’s WBC super middleweight title in May 2006, after four rounds Sakio was equal on points on two cards and surprisingly down on all four on the other card. The bout was stopped at the end of the fourth where Beyer could not continue after a severe cut opened up under his right eye. Some Australian’s would be calling déjà vu as this was the second time a fight had to be stopped on cuts in a Beyer world title fight against an Australian (the other against Danny Green in September 2003). Bika was looking highly impressive, held his own and appeared to be holding sway in the contest when the bout was halted.

The halt ended what was shaping to be an enthralling contest and a rematch would definitely be a good spectacle as both fighters possess quite contrasting styles. Beyer, the two time WBC super middleweight champion, possesses similar traits to Lucian Bute, is a southpaw with a stern defence and excellent counter punching skills. If Bika could defeat Beyer, it would certainly raise his chances and confidence of defeating Bute in a rematch.

Jeff Lacy

Ever since losing his IBF super middleweight title to Joe Calzaghe over 12 lopsided rounds, Jeff Lacy’s (23-1, 17 KOs) status within the super middleweight division has dramatically decreased. Not aiding his cause is his high level of inactivity, with only two bouts over the past 2 years. These fights though were against decent opposition in Vitali Tsypko and Peter Manfredo Jr, but were not highly impressive showings.

Jeff Lacy has notorious power in both hands and they call him ‘Left Hook Lacy’ for a reason. A bout with Sakio Bika would pit two knockout artists together who are both in the top 10 of the super middleweight division. Bika would need to avoid Lacy’s bombs as his punching power is considerably stronger than the likes of Bute, Calzaghe and Beyer.

One common foe is Calzaghe and if that was a guide to who would emerge victorious, Bika would win easily. Against Calzaghe, Bika landed some heavy bombs and although comfortably outpointed by 4-5 rounds, it was an unconvincing win by Joe and was largely won due to his superior work rate. For Lacy, the bout was utterly one sided, with Joe being able to get through Lacy’s defences at will and managing a knockdown in the final round. The victory, by 12, 12 and 14 points on each respective score card was emphatic.

Bika’s name has been bandied around by the Lacy camp as a potential foe, and should the bout take place, would present a mouth watering encounter. Jeff Lacy definitely has the ability to get back to the top of the mountain and defeating Bika would validate this statement. Bika will have the opportunity to combine his aggressive nature with a tactical formula against one of the biggest names in the division. Since Bika has already developed a considerable profile in the United States with his victory in the Contender, this bout would be an ideal world title eliminator bout. Lacy is set to fight Epifanio Mendoza (28-5-1, 24 KOs) on July 23, and assuming he gets through this bout, a bout with Bika later in the year would be make for great viewing.

Sakio Bika’s career is on the steady incline. With a healthy desire to fight the best opposition around the division and punching power that is up there with the best at super middleweight, Sakio presents a dangerous threat to any potential foe. A world title is definitely an attainable goal however Sakio should not rush into a title bout at this stage. It is more important to get the necessary bouts under his belt to fine tune his skills and tactical game. With a major scalp like Berrio, Beyer or Lacy next to his name, it would be no major surprise hearing that Sakio Bika is a super middleweight world champion in the near future.

Article posted on 13.07.2008

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