Klitschko faces Povetkin – At last

By Boxing News - 10/04/2013 - Comments

wladimir65563By Rachel Aylett: On Saturday, 5 October 2013, Wladimir Klitschko makes a return to the ring when he defends his numerous heavyweight championship belts against perennial top contender Alexander Povetkin. The bout takes place in Povetkin’s home nation, Russia.

Those who are still interested in the dodo-esque division, and they are dwindling by the day, are glad to see Povetkin finally get his long-gestating shot at one of the dominant Klitschko brothers. He has looked the “man most likely” for a number of years now.

This fight with Wladimir was first mooted as long ago as 2008 when it was a far more attractive proposition, and was originally set to take place in December of that year. Povetkin was the IBF’s mandatory challenger. However, the Russian had to pull out with an ankle injury. In the meantime, in 2009, Povetkin’s training duties were taken over by the veteran Teddy Atlas. The fight with Klitschko was rescheduled to take place in September 2010, but once again Povetkin pulled out, citing illness. It subsequently came to light that there had been disharmony in the Russian’s camp, with trainer Atlas, in his wisdom, stating his opinion that his new charge was not ready to face Wlad the destroyer. In hindsight, I think this was a bad call. Povetkin subsequently took another route and won the spurious WBA “ordinary” title against Ruslan Chagaev in August 2011.

Atlas ceased to be Povetkin’s trainer in January 2012, when a conflict arose between Atlas’s commentary duties with ESPN and him flying to Russia to run Alexander’s training camp for his defence of the WBA title against Marco Huck. The alternative would have been for Povetkin to go to the U.S. to be close to Atlas and have his training camp there. He decided though that he didn’t want to do that, and dispensed with Atlas’s services from that point on.

So, has there been an improvement in Povetkin since 2010 when he was last due to fight Wlad? On the contrary. If anything, he has deteriorated and seems to have become bogged down as the inconsequential holder of that meaningless WBA belt. Two of his four defences of that title have come against the 39-year old Hasim Rahman and the 42-year old Cedric Boswell, both of whom were right at the end of their careers. Indeed, neither of them have fought since. These matches casually passed us all by as they created barely a ripple in the pond that is the boxing world.

It is my belief that Atlas did far more harm than good to this once-promising fighter. Before Atlas joined his team, Povetkin looked like the one who would finally come through to make a serious challenge to the Klitschkos. He had looked rather impressive in defeating the still relevant at the time Larry Donald, Chris Byrd and Eddie Chambers. However, since foregoing the opportunity of that early challenge, Povetkin has never looked like the same fighter. Perhaps Atlas helped to dent his confidence by telling him he wasn’t yet up to the task. For whatever reason, Povetkin has looked slow and ordinary since that point.

Povetkin had a life and death struggle against blown-up cruiserweight Marco Huck in February 2012. He started the fight well but when Huck came back at him in the later rounds it looked, on several occasions, as though he might fold under Huck’s intense pressure. To give him his due, he fought desperately in the last few rounds to hang on to his title, but there was only a tissue paper between them at the end of the 12 dramatic rounds. Even in the Rahman fight, Povetkin was so easy to hit with the jab that it was quite shocking to see. How easy then will it be for Wlad to land his telephone-pole like jab into the chubby face of his Russian rival.

The Russian, then, is rather slow and cumbersome and does not have serious knockout power. I can’t conceive of a way that he can dethrone the most dominant heavyweight of the day, who has not been remotely troubled in the ring by any opponent since September 2005, when he survived three knockdowns to outpoint Sam Peter.

I believe that Povetkin is tough enough to last the distance, but see his face being badly cut and bruised at the end of 12 one-sided rounds. Wlad to retain convincingly on points.

On the undercard, European cruiserweight champion Mateusz Masternak defends that title against home fighter Grigory Drozd. Masternak has had a somewhat wasted year, boxing only once. He is an imminent threat though to all four major belt-holders in the division and, assuming he gets past Drozd, should be one of the next in line for a challenge. He is a good all-round boxer, although as he has stepped up in class his previously vaunted power has been far less effective. He is a real tough guy though and I feel he will be too good for the Russian, who since losing to Firat Arslan in 2006 has been fighting non-entities and getting nowhere fast. I expect Masternak to take a points decision after 12 rounds.

Also on the bill is a rather unappealing donkey derby, as faded veteran Ruslan Chagaev meets the even more decrepit Jovo Pudar. Both, for some reason, are ranked high in the alphabet soup lists, but completely unjustifiably so. Pudar has never fought, let alone beaten, anyone of note but somehow finds himself ranked at no.7 in the world by the ridiculous WBA. As I have previously written, Chagaev has been a shot fighter for a number of years now. This will be an unsavoury maul and could go either way. It may be that Chagaev’s experience at top level will just see him through to a dull points victory. Unfortunately, that will have the effect of propelling him even higher in the rankings. I thought we’d seen it all when Hasim Rahman was made mandatory challenger to Povetkin in 2009. However, we could end up with a similar situation on our hands here with Chagaev. Anyone for Klitschko-Chagaev II?


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