Wladimir Klitschko vs. Tony Thompson: What About Povetkin?
By Nate Anderson: With yesterday’s news of IBF/WBO heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko (50-3, 44 KOs) to fight his #1 mandatory for his WBO crown, Tony Thompson (31-1, 19 KOs) next, where does that leave Klitschko’s number one mandatory for his IBF title, Alexander Povetkin? It seems to me that Povetkin just finished winning the right to fight Klitschko next, after Alexander won the IBF tournament to decide who the mandatory challenger would be for Klitschko’s title. Povetkin went through hell to defeat both Chris Byrd and Eddie Chambers, with the assumption that he’d be Wladimir’s next opponent.
However, instead of facing Povetkin, Klitschko is making him cool his heals a little longer while Klitschko goes out and fights the 36 year-old Thompson – his mandatory for his newly won WBO title. I don’t know about you people, but that strikes me as being unfair to Povetkin, for he worked hard winning those fights thinking that he’d get a shot at Klitschko’s title, only to find out he has to take a back seat while Klitschko defends against the mandatory for a new title. That seems like a calculated move on Wladimir’s part, one made in order to avoid taking the on the riskier fight against Povetkin first before fighting what most people would consider the easier option against the light-hitting Thompson.
I can certainly understand why Klitschko would want to fight Thompson rather than Povetkin, but that doesn’t make it the right thing to do. Am I the only one that sees how unfair this is to Povetkin? Thankfully, none of this is settled yet, since the IBF has to agree to letting Klitschko bypass Povetkin in order to fight Thompson first.
Hopefully, the IBF doesn’t permit Povetkin to be skipped over like this because if they do, it would be doing a great disservice to Povetkin, who worked hard in getting the shot. Think of it this way: If Thompson somehow beats Klitschko, then it would mean that Povetkin would have to fight Thompson rather than Klitschko. What makes this especially bad, however, is that a bout with Thompson wouldn’t be nearly as interesting for the public, meaning that it would be a substantially less well-paying bout for Povetkin. In being bypassed, Povetkin stands to lose a lot of money in the process if things don’t work out right.
Even if Wladimir wins against Thompson, it can be a bad thing in that Wladimir may fight as bad as he did last time out, in winning the WBO title Sultan Ibragimov. Wladimir looked incredibly timid against Ibragimov, rarely letting his hands go for fear of getting hit in return. The larger public can forgive one bad performance, but probably not two. If Wladimir looks bad against Thompson, a very real possibility given Thompson’s southpaw stance and his awkwardness, it will substantially decrease his marketability. This, in turn, effects Povetkin where it hurts – his pocket book.
In almost every way, Povetkin gains nothing by having to wait and more likely will be hurt by this. I really don’t see how the IBF can let Wladimir simply skip by Povetkin, because he has gone through a lot of trouble to work his way into the position of being the mandatory for Klitschko, and should be allowed to take the fight before Klitschko defends his newly won title. This was the original agreement, and Wladimir shouldn’t try to change things now that he has a new title. He can always defend against Thompson after he fights Povetkin. It isn’t like Thompson has been waiting on Klitschko for a long time, since it’s a title that Wladimir just won in February.
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