Klitschko Dominates A Game Povetkin

by Nat Gottlieb

The really scary part about Wladimir Klitschko’s destruction of Alexander Povetkin on Saturday is that last month Dr. Steelhammer called the Russian fighter “the best opponent I’ve ever had.” If that’s true, then perhaps the only one who will ever beat the long-standing Ukrainian champion is Father Time. And even that fight looks like it would be a tossup.

Povetkin, the former Olympic Gold winner and unbeaten heavyweight, fought a game, aggressive fight, but Klitschko adapted well an inflicted a sloppy beat-down on the Russian to earn a huge, one-sided defeat, with all three judges scoring it 119-104 before a sell-out crowd at the Olimpiyskiy Arena in Moscow. Povetkin, who had never had tasted canvas in 132 amateur fights and 26 as a professional, was knocked down four times by Klitschko, once in the second round and three times in the seventh.

For those keeping score, Povetkin is the 19th straight opponent Klitschko has beaten in defense of his heavyweight titles, a streak dating back seven years to 2006. Klitschko is the second longest-standing heavyweight champion in history. Only Joe Louis, who reigned for 11 years between 1937 and 1949, held the title longer. 

Read the Complete Wladimir Klitschko vs. Alexander Povetkin Fight Recap on HBO.com.

Bragging Rights and Title Belts on the Line as Russia Meets Ukraine

by Kieran Mulvaney

For better or for worse, boxing – and particularly the heavyweight championship of the world – has often featured as a proxy for broader battles, struggles being waged in social, political and even military arenas far outside the ring.

There was, notably, Jack Johnson having to chase Tommy Burns all the way to Australia to become the first black heavyweight champion; former champ James Jeffries coming out of retirement in a failed attempt to reclaim the title for the white race; Joe Louis facing German Max Schmeling one year before the outbreak of war in Europe; and Muhammad Ali colliding with Joe Frazier for the first time in 1971, in a fight that split the country down the middle.

To American viewers, Saturday’s contest between heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko and mandatory challenger Alexander Povetkin carries no such extracurricular drama. But far to the east, where the contest will be taking place, there are some definite undercurrents. Klitschko, accustomed to being the hometown favorite on his adopted German soil, will be in hostile territory as he walks to the ring in Moscow to face Russia's Povetkin. Willingly or otherwise, Povetkin and Ukrainian Klitschko will be carrying the hopes and fervor of two nations that have had, and continue to have, a complex and intertwined relationship that reaches back hundreds of years.

Given that history – in which Ukraine has at various times been partitioned and fought over by Russia and other neighboring powers, and was incorporated into the Soviet Union between 1922 and 1991 – Moscow is often seen as the bully in the relationship; but it is Kiev’s standard-bearer who will be heavily favored to throw his weight around on Saturday.

Klitschko's mid-career hiccups have long disappeared into the rear-view mirror; he is closing in on 10 years unbeaten since his shocking loss to Lamon Brewster in Las Vegas. Under the guidance of the late Emanuel Steward, he corrected his defensive flaws and emphasized his strengths: he fights tall, as a 6'6" man should, softening up his opponents with a thudding left jab that blinds as well as hurts and leaves his foes vulnerable to the steel hammer right hand that gives Klitschko his nickname. Meanwhile, he keeps his historically troublesome chin tucked far out of range. The result has been 18 straight wins since the Brewster debacle—15 of which have been a title challenge or defense—of which only four have lasted the distance. Klitschko is a king at the height of his pomp.

There was a time when Povetkin seemed the most serious potential challenge to that reign. An accomplished amateur (and the 2004 Olympic gold medalist), he truly announced himself as a professional in 2007 and 2008, with consecutive victories over American veterans Larry Donald, Chris Byrd and Eddie Chambers. That trio of scalps elevated his record to 15-0 and made him Klitschko's mandatory, but he withdrew from that challenge due to injury, and from a rescheduled appointment because his new trainer, Teddy Atlas, determined that he needed more seasoning. Since then, his outings have been infrequent and his opposition rarely inspiring; still, he remains undefeated and, courtesy of boxing politics, has picked up a title belt in the process.

Atlas, though no longer his trainer, has picked Povetkin to knock Klitschko out; to do so, the Russian will have to work his way under Klitschko's jab, slip inside and fire away with combinations. It is a plan that many have sought to execute, but none have succeeded in doing in almost 10 years. If Povetkin were to be successful, it might not have quite the social and political repercussions as some of history's legendary matchups, but it would send significant shockwaves through the world of heavyweight boxing.

Crawford Isn't Fishing for Compliments, but He's Getting Them Anyway

by Kieran Mulvaney

Some boxers are more accustomed than others to the routine of answering an interviewer's questions. Naturally outgoing and expansive, they're more than ready to share the details of their life. Ricky Hatton was a journalist's dream: an open book, he rarely seemed to take life seriously and would often leave his audience in stitches as he cracked jokes and regaled them with tales of his life outside of boxing.

At the other end of the scale are the quieter types, more circumspect in their responses, answering what is asked and little more. Terence Crawford fits into that box, not out of a lack of friendliness, but more as a product of Midwestern reticence when speaking about oneself. Until, that is, the moment his features break into a wide grin, when he is asked if there is anything about him that boxing fans would find surprising.

"Oh man," he smiles. "I love to fish. That's one thing that I've been doing since I was probably five years old. River fishing, lake fishing, pond fishing, everywhere fishing," he expounds. "I just love to fish." He demurs with a laugh when it is suggested he may want to compare notes with Gennady Golovkin, the middleweight champion who had earlier confided his own love of the same activity. Perhaps they could arrange a fishing trip to Kazakhstan. "I don't know that I want to go all the way out there," he chuckles.

Crawford comes across as the kind of young man who just likes to get on with his job, and to do what he does best, which is boxing with impressive skill for a relatively inexperienced professional. His dismantling of Breidis Prescott on the undercard of Mike Alvarado's March win over Brandon Rios earned rave reviews; and as he prepares to make his third HBO appearance of 2013 – against undefeated Andrey Klimov – on Saturday, it is clear he has the full and enthusiastic backing of his promoter, Bob Arum.

Unsurprisingly, he does not get carried away by the praise he has received for his wins against Prescott and, in June, Alejandro Sanabria.

"I felt like, you know, I was overdue," he says. "I felt like I should have [already] been in the spotlight, but I waited my time and my time is here and I'm going to make the most of it." He concedes that, "it feels great to have those kinds of people believe in me, like I believe in myself," but he doesn't feel compelled to say too much about it.

Instead, he'll save the bulk of his talking for where it counts: in the ring.

Read the Complete Quick Hits: Terence Crawford at HBO.com.

 

CompuBox Analysis: Klitschko vs. Povetkin

by CompuBox

Like it or not, Wladimir Klitschko may well be among the greatest heavyweight champions who has yet lived. If longevity and dominance over his era are any indicator, he should rank highly on many historian's lists. But because he's not American and because his knockouts are preceded by long stretches of clinical boxing his accomplishments haven't been embraced, especially in the U.S. But the numbers speak highly for him.

* His current seven year, five month reign is now second on the all-time list behind Joe Louis' 11 year 8 months. Larry Holmes, at seven years three months, is now third.

* He is now 21-2 (17 KO) in title competition.

* He hasn't lost a fight in nearly 10 years and has gone 18-0 (13 KO) in that time.

* His 14 consecutive defenses thus far ranks only behind Joe Louis (25) and Holmes (20) and if one adds his five WBO defenses between 2000 and 2003 his 19 ranks him third all-time, tied with Muhammad Ali's 19 in two reigns. Given the current crop it appears that "Dr. Steelhammer" can rule for as long as he pleases.

However, Klitschko is facing a test in WBA "regular" titlist Alexander Povetkin, who is undefeated in 26 fights and has been looking good as of late. Still, a Povetkin victory over the 37-year-old Klitschko would rank as a monstrous upset but stranger things have happened in boxing.

Statistical factors that may influence the outcome are:

Read the Conplete CompuBox Analysis of Cotto vs. Rodriguez on HBO.com.

Read the Conplete CompuBox Analysis of Crawford vs. Klimov on HBO.com.

Read the Conplete CompuBox Analysis of Klitschko vs. Povetkin on HBO.com.