Sakio Bika had the honor of being the first 2013 winner on HBO's Championship Boxing, as The Contender alum from Cameroon had no problem handling Serbian Nikola Sjekloca in this WBC super middleweight eliminator.
The bout, no thriller, though Bika showed good stamina and the loser good heart, went to the cards. The judges saw it 119-109, 118-112, 120-108 for the 33-year-old Australia resident.
Sjekloca must have a very skilled manager, as his career best win was over Khoren Gevor and he shouldn't, in a just world, be in the top five or maybe even ten of any sanctioning organization. But the WBC tabbed him number one. Shall we give them points for chutzpah?
This fight subbed in for a Jonathon Banks-Seth Mitchell rematch, which got postponed because Banks broke a thumb.
Bika was more of a conventional fighter than we've seen in the past. He kept a smart distance from the loser, and wasn't into some of the clinching, and rasslin we've noted before. The Serb didn't move his feet much, so Bika was able to throw power shots, with both hands, whenever he wanted.
New trainer Kevin Cunningham perhaps deserves some credit for some of Bika's refinement. He showed fire in the corner before the final round, demanding Bika look to close the show early by letting his hands go more.
The victor rises to 31-5-2, and the loser goes to 25-1.
Andre Ward is the WBC champ at 168, and he has already fought and beat Bika in Nov. 2010. There will be zero clamor for a rematch.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV