Alexander Povetkin's team says they want to send the real guy to a fight with Wladimir Klitschko, and not just a cardboard cutout at a press conference this time. (Photo by Ralph Orlowski/Bongarts/Getty Images)
Representatives for Alexander Povetkin claim that they're ready to make a fight with world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, according to Roman Grishin of Sportbox.ru, via BoxingScene.com:
"Everyone [in Eastern Europe] is waiting for this fight. Alexander is afraid of nothing. I will say even more. The only motive on why he turned to professional boxing - is to face a Klitschko. He was driven by a desire to meet one of the brothers in battle and win. It is his goal," [manager Vladimir] Hryunov said.
Hryunov suggests that the fight should be in Moscow, but says he'd be willing to go to Kiev. Povetkin and Klitschko both regularly fight in Germany, but there's money in the fight in any of those locations.
Povetkin (24-0, 16 KO) is coming off of a close and many believe very lucky majority decision win over Marco Huck on February 25, and has in fact two times ducked out of Klitschko fights in the past. In December 2008, he was the IBF mandatory, signed for the fight, and then bailed, replaced by a shot Hasim Rahman.
They were scheduled to fight again in September 2010, and Povetkin bailed again, this time at the request of new trainer Teddy Atlas, who has since been dumped. Povetkin didn't show up to the presser (seen in the article's photo, which is one of Wlad's funnier moments), and then didn't show up to the fight, replaced this time by Samuel Peter.
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So why might he show up this time, especially given that he struggled with Huck, a cruiserweight coming up and outweighed by Povetkin by roughly 20 pounds?
Well, the answer is there: Because Povetkin, 32, just struggled with a smaller man, to the point many felt he lost the fight. If Povetkin is going to have trouble with someone like Huck, then he is eventually going to lose when he faces decent fighters. As we've said, he's faced two good, in-prime fighters in his career, and he got a bit lucky against both. The other was Eddie Chambers, who fought a bad fight for too much of the fight, one of those frustratingly uneven performances where a fighter goes from looking in control to crap within two rounds.
And he took four years between those fights, facing washed-up veterans, journeymen, old men, and other non-threats. The WBA has idiotically ruled that Hasim Rahman, for some completely unknown reason, is the No. 1 contender to Povetkin's "regular" title, so he's next for the "champ," returning Povetkin to the level of competition at which he's comfortable, and where he has the ability to look like more than a pretty decent but clearly flawed modern heavyweight, which is what he is -- and he's ultimately one who can be beaten by any other pretty decent but clearly flawed modern heavyweight.
So if you're running the risk of this guy, who is not young, losing to someone like Marco Huck or Eddie Chambers should he fight them, it's probably time to swing for the fences for real and actually fight a Klitschko brother. He'll get more money to play B-side to either of them (they've never mentioned Vitali, to my knowledge), and won't really lose any credibility if he loses, even if he loses badly. So why wouldn't you just do it? It's not even "cashing out" so much as it's "cashing in." If (when) he loses, he goes back to what he was doing before: Waiting for them to retire.
As for Wladimir, he's facing Jean Marc Mormeck today, and is expected to rematch IBF mandatory Tony Thompson in July, so any fight between Povetkin and Klitschko would come this fall, or next year, given Wladimir's own habit of pulling out of and delaying fights in the last couple of years.