The contracts are signed and the fight is official: Wladimir Klitschko will defend the world heavyweight championship against Alexander Povetkin (knock on wood), as the two finally meet after five years of delays, tune-ups, talk, and withdrawals.
Klitschko (60-3, 51 KO) hasn't lost since 2004, when he was stopped by Lamon Brewster, which he later avenged. Povetkin (26-0, 18 KO) was originally set to fight Klitschko in 2008 and then again in 2009, but pulled out of both fights. He has instead feasted upon a smörgåsbord of second-tier (at best) heavyweight foes, and though the same can be said of Klitschko's recent opposition, Povetkin hasn't already cleaned out the division, either.
This may really be the final interesting matchup we're going to see for Klitschko, who at 37 has been looking untouchable, but may simply lose his desire to fight before any other credible challengers really come along. Tyson Fury may be the only remaining foe of note, and there's certainly a chance that David Haye will prove a bridge too far this fall.
This is pretty much Povetkin's one shot, one opportunity to prove he's more than a good heavyweight in a very weak field. Even in defeat, he can do that by actually being competitive, something nobody has been against Klitschko since Samuel Peter in 2005. Povetkin is a good, polished boxer, he has some power, and given his amateur credentials, he doesn't figure to be as hopelessly and totally outclassed as most of Wladimir's foes have been, as he's often made opponents look like sloppy hacks. If nothing else, Povetkin very much knows what he's doing in there.
Does the Russian have a shot? Can he make this competitive even in defeat, or will he be just another slab of roadkill?