By Geno McGahee
This Saturday, the IBO/IBF/WBO/WBA Heavyweight Champion, Wladimir Klitschko, 60-3, 51 KO’s, will defend against “regular” WBA champion, Alexander Povetkin, 26-0, 18 KO’s, in Moscow, Russia, in a highly anticipated match. The bout will air live on HBO and the stakes are high and the order is tall for the challenger.
Klitschko is the best heavyweight in boxing today and would be a handful for any generation’s best big men. He is a victim of his own talent. He is so far superior to any active heavyweight that his bouts do not draw the attention that they should. He isn’t a trash talker and his dominance is given in a consistent beating, usually, prior to the boom that sends them crashing. He’s not from the states and the people in the U.S. haven’t warmed up to him. Wlad came in after Lennox Lewis cleaned up the division, but at least Lennox had fighters of note to beat along the way like Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield and David Tua. The people were able to accept Lewis because he beat the prior crop that made boxing so special in the 1990s. Wlad hasn’t had that luxury.
The last defeat on the record for Wlad was in 2004, when he lost via TKO to Lamon Brewster. It marked a change in his career. He pondered retirement and then decided to come back without his big brother, Vitali, involved. It was a solo effort and if it were a success or failure, it would be all on Wlad. The result was 18 straight wins, 13 knockouts, and a restored aura of invincibility. One of his comeback victories was a commanding stoppage of Brewster in a rematch.
The quality of his opposition has been top notch. He has defeated 9 undefeated fighters and has beaten 9 former or future champions. He is fighting the best available opponents and is dominating them. The brittle chin that many pointed to has been either disproved or protected to the point where it’s a non-issue. His stamina issues have been overcome with his restored confidence and pacing. He has proven to be a safe bet and it is hard to see him losing to Povetkin on Saturday night.
Povetkin has benefited from his promotion and was handed a title without ever facing the recognized champion. The WBA decided that they needed another champion because they promoted Wlad to “super champ”, so to muddle up boxing even more, we had two heavyweight champions. Povetkin, through his connections, was that guy.
Although his status as champion is laughable, Povetkin does have some qualifications that, at the least, earn him a shot at the “super champ.” He is a gold medalist in the 2004 Olympic Games. He has beaten the usual suspects like Larry Donald (UD-10), Chris Byrd (TKO-11), Ruslan Chagaev (UD-12), Cedric Boswell (KO-8) and Hasim Rahman (KO-2), but he has several defensive liabilities that will cost him in the biggest fight of his life and there is nobody on his fight record that is in the same universe as Wlad. He has beaten some “name” heavyweights, but he has not been in the ring with a killer and Wlad is as destructive a force there is in boxing.
These two, at one point, were signed to fight, but Povetkin, under the advice of then trainer, Teddy Atlas, pulled out. He wasn’t ready for the opportunity. Atlas was ejected, eventually, when he didn’t tow the company line and the heavyweight trudged on. Through careful matchmaking, he has made a great deal of money and now it’s time to cash in, but for this fight, Atlas would have been most useful.
The fight to look at as we go into this clash is Povetkin-Marco Huck. Huck was able to land the right hand with regularity and rock Povetkin upon occasion. Keep in mind that Huck was a cruiserweight moving up and his power was not something of note. Huck was robbed that night, losing a majority decision to Povetkin, but he showed the punch that is the key to beating him. The straight right hand is a punch that Povetkin hasn’t found a way to defend and Wlad’s best punch, arguably, is that. What happens when he lands it flush on the chin of the “regular” champion? The most likely scenario is Povetkin being left in a mangled heap and early.
Saturday night in Moscow will be an interesting match up, but for an upset to occur, the challenger must fight a perfect fight and I’m not sure that that will even be enough to win. Wlad by early KO.