Huck-Minto set for May 1 in Germany

After the 5-foot-11, 218-pound Brian Minto was knocked out in the fourth round by the 6-foot-4, 263-pound Cristobal Arreola in a December heavyweight fight in Atlantic City, N.J., he was understandably down about the loss.

But later that night, at the bar at the Bally's casino, Minto, nursing a cool beverage and a swollen eye, said he thought maybe he would be best served by moving down to the 200-pound cruiserweight division.

Three months later, the Butler, Pa., native has followed through and now he has a world title opportunity for his efforts.

Minto told ESPN.com on Monday he signed a contract to challenge cruiserweight titleholder Marco Huck of Germany on May 1 in Oldenburg, Germany.

"After the fight in December, I started working to get my weight down. It wasn't easy, but I feel great now," Minto said Monday night. "I feel like I'm at my natural weight. I'm probably 204 today and I haven't lost no power. It's going to be interesting. It's a great opportunity. I'm excited."

Manager Pat Nelson was optimistic about the change.

"He's been working on his nutrition since the Arreola fight," Nelson said. "He's going to be much stronger and faster. It's hard to believe anyone 200 pounds or under will be able to handle Minto's strength. He wants to be a champion. That's been his goal since he turned pro. At first, his dream was to become heavyweight champion, but size being a disadvantage, that became unrealistic. Now he's set his mind on a cruiserweight title."

Huck (28-1, 21 KOs), 25, will be making his third title defense and has been as busy as any top fighter in the sport. This will be his fourth bout since August. On March 13, he stopped Adam "The Swamp Donkey" Richards of Houston in the third round in Berlin.

By fighting Minto (34-3, 21 KOs), Huck is facing an opponent known to the German fans. Minto has boxed there twice previously in major fights in that country. In 2006, he was selected as the opponent for the wildly popular Axel Schulz, who was coming out of a seven-year retirement. Minto pulled the upset by stopping him in the sixth round. Minto returned to Germany for his next fight in early 2007, but lost a competitive decision to Luan Krasniqi.

"I think I'll draw people to the arena. They know me over there," Minto said.

He said he was not worried about fighting on hostile turf again.

"When I fought Schulz, I walked into the arena with 15,000 people and they tried to ice me by making me wait for him to come out," Minto said. "Then he came out with a rock band playing. I just had fun. I wasn't stressed out or nervous at all."

Minto is being trained by Freddie Roach at his Wild Card gym in Hollywood, Calif., although Roach is unlikely to travel with him to Germany for the fight because he will be in the final stages of training Amir Khan for his May 15 junior welterweight title defense with Paulie Malignaggi.

"Even though Freddie won't be in the corner, he'll get me ready and he's breaking down the fight for the strategy," Minto said. "He'll send one of his assistants with me, but we've been working hard."

In the loss to Arreola, which was on HBO, Minto was knocked down twice in the fourth round before the fight was called off.

"I was disappointed, but you know what? Physics came into play," Minto, 35, said. "Cris outweighed me almost 50 pounds, and when he was catching me, he was moving me. You live and learn. It was a great experience. I'll tell you what -- I don't think any cruiserweight is going to punch like that. I'm picking on someone my own size for once. I'm gonna pressure this kid so much he won't know what to do with himself."

Dan Rafael covers boxing for ESPN.com.