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For Your Consideration: Alexander Povetkin

Alexander Povetkin has had a winding pro career, and with a loss to Wladimir Klitschko behind him, it's pretty wide open from here.

Martin Rose
Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Alexander Povetkin was once hoped to be a potential serious Klitschko challenger, but it hasn't worked out that way. After dropping out of two deals to face Wladimir, he finally stepped into the ring with the big Ukrainian heavyweight king last year, and predictably lost a one-sided and intolerable fight in Moscow, where at least he made a lot of money.

The 35-year-old is still in the game, and has a fight coming up on October 24. Where's he been, and where's he going?

Best Wins

  1. Eddie Chambers (2008-01-26)
  2. Chris Byrd (2007-10-27)
  3. Ruslan Chagaev (2011-08-27)
  4. Marco Huck (2012-02-25)
  5. Manuel Charr (2014-05-30)

This feature, I think, exposes how thin Povetkin's record really is. His best win is still his 2008 nod over Eddie Chambers, a fight that Chambers all but gave away with a very inconsistent performance that led Chambers' father to tell him after the bell, "Fuck the swimmin', fuck the basketball," and that needed to get back to boxing training. Chambers gave away so many rounds of that fight, but when he fought, he was at least dead even with Povetkin, often clearly looking like the better fighter.

After that, it gets really sketchy. Byrd was old and had always been small, but Chris was just a year removed from being a world titleholder, which he lost to Wladimir Klitschko via emphatic beatdown. Chagaev had been exposed as fairly pedestrian by the time he fought Povetkin for a totally bogus vacant world title, but Povetkin took care of business, and that was his best win during Teddy Atlas' career-stunting time as Povetkin's trainer.

Huck had a good argument for beating Povetkin, but he makes it onto this list as a decent win for Povetkin despite being a cruiserweight who gave up lots of size to Povetkin, and arguably beat him anyway, because unlike the likes of Cedric Boswell, Andrzej Wawrzyk, Javier Mora, Teke Oruh, Nicolai Firtha, et cetera, Huck was at least a credible fighter in his prime.

Charr is here because he served as the bounce-back win after Povetkin's first loss, and Povetkin ripped him, as he should have. Charr's not very good at all, with a total fluff record, but Povetkin badly needed that win, and he needed to look good. He did it.

The Loss

Povetkin's challenge against Klitschko was an embarrassment to the history of heavyweight boxing. For that to be the "big" and "real" world championship fight of 2013 says so much about the division, and how far it's fallen. A year later, the fight is all but forgotten. But it shouldn't be. It was such an excruciatingly noxious affair that it deserves to live in infamy as one of the worst major fights of all time.

The fight said as much about Klitschko's ultimate limitations and shortcomings compared to the division's true all-time greats as it did about Povetkin's standing measured against the best, too. Over 12 unwatchable rounds, Povetkin and Klitschko did as much to disgrace heavyweight boxing as every Mike Tyson ear bite, Larry Holmes dropkick, and John Ruiz title defense ever did. In fact, the two of them made Ruiz look slick. It was unbelievably terrible.

Up Next and Beyond

Povetkin is 35 years old, and we've seen the best of what he's going to do in the sport. He's good for a heavyweight boxer of today's age, but that's about where the praise ends.

One can't help but wonder if his stint with Teddy Atlas hurt him drastically, or simply delayed the inevitable. Povetkin came into the pro ranks with some fanfare, an accomplished amateur with good skills and power, the sort of pedigree that many in today's game lack. And before joining Atlas, he beat Byrd and Chambers back-to-back -- still, in my estimation, his two best wins.

Atlas decided to withdraw Povetkin from anything approaching serious competition. Following the eliminator win over Chambers to earn a shot at Wladimir Klitschko, Atlas led Povetkin into fights with Taurus Sykes, Jason Estrada, Leo Nolan, Javier Mora, Teke Oruh, and Nicolai Firtha. And all of that led to a 100% bogus world title fight with Chagaev. Atlas, ever the businessman, will rail against these horrible sanctioning bodies and their horrible world title fights, but he was there lending his credibility, as it were, to Povetkin the "world champion," holding an irrelevant version of a title already held by Wladimir Klitschko, a man Atlas steered Povetkin away from in 2010, after Povetkin had signed for that fight.

There is an argument that Atlas "ruined" Povetkin, I guess, but I wouldn't go that far. What Atlas did was stall a career that was always going to end up where it has ended up. He can beat just about anyone out there, but he can't beat Wladimir Klitschko. He's not good enough or tall enough or strong enough or whatever else enough. He's just good enough to make Klitschko truly hideous to watch fight, but that's about it.

Following the win over Charr in May, Povetkin now has a date set with Carlos Takam on October 24 in Moscow, which is a decent matchup. Takam has had a couple good performances this year, a draw with Mike Perez on HBO in January, and a wide decision win over Tony Thompson in June. He's as much a threat to Povetkin as most guys out there would be, which is to say that Povetkin should be favored to maintain his standing well under the division's top guy. Takam is a lot closer to Povetkin than Povetkin is to Klitschko, to put it another way, and it's still hardly a pick'em fight.

What have you thought of Povetkin's career? Has the Russian been a disappointment, about what you expected, or what?

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