At the Indoor Olympic Arena in Moscow, heavyweight czar Wladimir Klitschko earned a coma-inducing unanimous decision over Alexander Povetkin. At 26-0 with 18 KOs, the brave Russian was considered a difficult opponent for the unassailable Ukrainian. Povetkin’s aggressive, come-forward style was supposed to contrast nicely with Wlad’s, who is most comfortable fighting from a distance. Would the result of this match – long anticipated in Central Europe where each boxer has a high profile – see Klitschko shocked, perhaps his chin exposed as it had been against Corrie Sanders and Lamon Brewster? After all, boxing fans need someone new to cheer on, given the length and boredom of Wladimir’s reign. Eager for new blood, we slouched towards Moscow to be born again as fans of the heavyweight division.
This was a frustrating and laborious fight to watch, out of which Alexander Povetkin’s heart emerged as the bout’s only endearing takeaway. It was twelve agonizing rounds of Wladimir Klitschko controlling the Russian with his left hand and pressing down on the back of his neck during their incessant clinches. Povetkin fought gamely and employed head movement and aggressiveness to get inside of Wlad early, but to little effect. As the rounds passed he fatigued and slowed and became an increasingly reachable target for Klitschko’s jab. Suffice to say, he is not Mike Tyson, or the sort of undersized fighter explosive enough to overcome distinct disadvantages in height and reach. (At 6’2, Povetkin is undersized only in relation to the 6’6 Klitschko). He did show his mettle, though, and fought with the same intensity in each round, even when he was being thrown or elbowed to the mat by the big, bullying Ukrainian.
The referee, Luis Pabon, should have done more than deduct a mere point to discourage Klitschko’s groping. Throughout the entire bout Wlad leaned heavily on Povetkin during clinches, an illegal tactic which had its intended effect as Povetkin was visibly gassed by the end of round six. After rebounding nicely from a flash knockdown in the second, he went to the mat three times in the seventh round alone. While he was too tired to push back against Klitschko’s offensive lineman-like tactics, and despite the bruised and puffy shape his eyes assumed, he took the champion’s punches impressively. There was only so much he could do, though and at no point did he appear a threat to land the one big, equalizing shot. Wlad was too patient and his fight plan too calculated to allow for a late round surge from the challenger. All of this made for an unappealing scrap whose outcome followed the banal and cautious tract most had predicted.
The Take Away
One of the strange sights at this fight was seeing the preternaturally-tanned Michael Buffer doing English ring introductions before a Russian audience. This is probably the only takeaway I have, other than my misgivings about watching Wladimir Klitschko jab and molest an opponent for 36 minutes. He has the hard, curving musculature of a Marvel mutant and complements this with power and intelligence, but he is too restrained to entertain. There are no small heavyweights with the physical skills required to beat him, and of the division’s giants only the inexperienced and raw Deontay Wilder probably has the brawn and speed necessary to dent Wlad’s armor. With regards to Povetkin, his run as a top heavyweight certainly isn’t over, and he should retain his public esteem. He simply lost to someone bigger and better, however bullying and boring. — Eliott McCormick