Today at 4:30 p.m. EDT on ARD (Germany) and 5 p.m. EDT on Epix and streaming live on EpixHD.com (United States), the vacant WBA "regular" heavyweight title will be contested in the main event of a heavyweight double-header from Erfurt, Germany.
Teddy Atlas-trained Russian amateur star Alexander Poevtkin (21-0, 15 KO) will look to pick up his first major pro title when he faces former titleholder Ruslan Chagaev (27-1-1, 17 KO) in the main event. Povetkin has been in line for two fights with Wladimir Klitschko -- in fact, both were signed, and press conferences were held, and all of that. But Povetkin pulled out in December 2008 claiming injury, and when he left Klitschko hanging again in 2010, bigger doubts were raised about Povetkin and about the direction that Teddy Atlas would be taking him.
Chagaev is a step up from Povetkin's recent opponents, which have been lousy mismatches against the likes of Nicolai Firtha, Teke Oruh, Javier Mora, Leo Nolan, Jason Estrada, and Taurus Sykes. To say Povetkin took a step backwards after beating Eddie Chambers in January 2008 would be a huge understatement.
But Chagaev has his own concerns, too, having looked a little ragged in his last two fights, wins over Kali Meehan and Travis Walker. Those followed a one-sided beatdown at the hands of Wladimir Klitschko in June 2009.
In the co-feature, 27-year-old Robert Helenius (15-0, 10 KO) of Finland faces another former titlist, Sergei "White Wolf" Liakhovich (25-3, 16 KO). Liakhovich has largely disappeared from the relevant heavyweight boxing scene since he was stopped in a dramatic 12th round by Shannon Briggs in 2006, fighting just three times since then, and only once against a rated opponent, a bad loss to Nikolai Valuev. Helenius, as we noted earlier, is an enormous betting favorite in this fight, with oddsmakers clearly pegging Liakhovich as washed-up, damaged goods. But even in his big knockout win over Samuel Peter earlier this year, Helenius still showed some flaws. He's the favorite for a reason today, but if Liakhovich is in shape and focused, it could be a bit of a trap fight for the still somewhat raw, 6'7" Finn.
We'll be here with live, round-by-round coverage, scoring and analysis of both fights, followed by immediate post-fight analysis of the results of each bout. Join us!