As a dedicated follower of the sweet science, often you compile lists of your favorite boxers to watch. Many times when speaking to a fellow enthusiast; you’ll tend to name pound for pound types, and multiple division champions. Maybe someone who dominated a division for a time.
I would like to pose this question. Who is your favorite gatekeeper? The fighters that are always tough outs.
Sakio “The Scorpion” Bika fits the bill to a tee. Originally from Cameroon, now fighting out of Australia. Bika is about as solid as they come.
He emerged on the big stage in 2006. An appearance on HBO against the 168 pound kingpin Joe Calzaghe. Calzaghe was coming off a career defining performance against Jeff Lacy. Many pundits thought Lacy was the future of the division. Calzaghe’s match with Bika would be a showcase.
Previously, Bika had been to Germany for a showdown with Markus Beyer. A bid for Beyer’s WBC super middleweight strap. The fight ended very prematurely with an accidental head-butt in the 4th round. A draw was the result, but Bika came away confident. If the fight had continued, he would have been the victor.
Calzaghe won unanimously, but it was not as easy as many thought it would be. Especially in light of his destruction of Lacy. The contest was rough-and-tumble. Bika’s fights tend to be that way.
After losing a title eliminator to Lucian Bute, Bika participated in the third season of the reality show “The Contender,” which aired on ESPN. Bika made it to the final where he faced off against Jaidon Codrington. One half of the chin checkers, Codrington and Bika had a fight of the year worthy battle. Bika won by 8th round stoppage and collected the show’s prize money.
In 2010, Bika had a big chance against the universally recognized top pound for pound super middleweight Andre Ward. Ward was taking a break from the seemingly never ending “Super Six Tournament.” Bika was coming off a bad disqualification loss to Jean-Paul Mendy. Some yawned, but the fight turned out to be very entertaining. Ward won the decision, but Bika’s high punch volume made it very watchable.
Bika would hook up with trainer Kevin Cunningham and it paid off. He claimed the vacant WBC super middleweight title with a majority decision over Marco Antonio Periban. The gatekeeper was now a major titleholder. How long would he hold it.
Many thought that Bika was just going to be a sort of stepping stop. Take his belt and move on to greener pastures. Anthony Dirrell would be his first title defense. Bika ended up taking a rare trip to the canvas, but managed to gut out a draw. Thus, retaining his title.
Is Bika the most gifted fighter around? No, his style can be a bit crude at times. He’ll probably always come up short against the elite level. But he always brings it, and I always enjoy him.
Boxing needs guys like Sakio “The Scorpion” Bika.