Wladimir Klitschko scored four knockdowns, won every round, and yet managed to have arguably his worst performance in years in shutting out Alexander Povetkin today in Moscow, retaining his WBA, WBO, and IBF heavyweight titles via unanimous decision on three scores of 119-104. Bad Left Hook also had it 119-104 for Klitschko.
Klitschko (61-3, 51 KO) was ready, willing, and able to clinch until the cows came home today. An aggressive-minded Povetkin (26-1, 18 KO) found himself constantly pushed down, leaned on, hugged, and shoved over by a bigger, stronger man, who also could and did rather easily outbox him anyway.
Referee Luis Pabon took some criticism for his performance in this one, as it seemed clear even by round three or four that he needed to start doing something about the clinching and shoving. Though he gave Klitschko one warning early in the fight, that warning prevented nothing, as Wladimir kept on doing his thing.
Finally, in the 11th round, with Klitschko up 100-86 on the scorecards, Pabon took a point, in a move that was almost comical. That was the only round where Wladimir did not receive 10 points, but Povetkin didn't, either.
Povetkin didn't have the worst game plan for this fight, but he was unable to actually do anything once he'd lunged his way inside and found himself tied up by the champion. His own flaws were his undoing about as much as anything, but the real thing to take away from this fight is that we saw Wladimir Klitschko against a guy who does have some boxing skill, a former Olympic gold medalist who is credible and has actual talent, and Klitschko didn't look impressive at all.
In this fight, the criticisms that Wladimir is all height, reach, and size gained some credibility. This wasn't Jean-Marc Mormeck, Tony Thompson, Mariusz Wach, or Francesco Pianeta. And with Povetkin able to move his head and slip a few shots, he did make Klitschko look a bit uncomfortable. And that's why it's hard to rank Klitschko among the all-time greats, no matter how dominant he has been in this era. He's a good fighter, but if a guy like Povetkin, losing every round, can make Wladimir fight this badly and this much in a pure safety-first mode, what do we really have in terms of greatness?
Did Wladimir's stock drop for you today, even in the dominant victory?