Photo by Marilyn Paulino/RBRBoxing
As Amir Khan finally regains consciousness, the sport looks ahead to the biggest fight left in the month of May.
Deontay Wilder packs up and heads to Russia on May 21 to defends his WBC Heavyweight title against Alexander Povetkin, the most proven fighter in the division outside of the two men locking horns in a rematch for the lineal belt.
Russia’s Povetkin has been the WBC mandatory for a full calendar year now. Wilder, billed by Showtime as the next great American Heavyweight, needs to put up or shut up. His reputation and 35 knockouts precedes him. Defeat Povetkin, the KOs look like noisy steps on the way to glory. Lose to the Russian, and they reek of careful matchmaking.
Rankings aside, the most fascinating thing about this matchup is the power at hand. Fans love knockouts and Heavyweights are always eager to accommodate.
At the beginning of the year, Wilder, or the “Bronze Bomber” unlatched an overhand right to stretch out Artur Szpilka (a fight Wilder was clearly losing) for the most devastating knockout of his career or at least the the hardest to watch since Wilder left Siarhei Liakhovich convulsing on the canvas in 2013.
Povetkin, has developed into a KO artist himself. The Russian’s last four may be the finest collection of clubbing in the entire sport, stopping granite chinned Heavyweights Manuel Charr (his only other stoppage before that was on cuts), Carlos Takam (the only KO loss of his 36-fight career), Mariuesz Wach (same, albeit on cuts), and blowing away ranked contender Mike Perez in one round last year.
Wilder is the cruder puncher of the two. He possesses more one-shot KO ability but doesn’t put his punches together nearly as well as Povetkin. The American hasn’t put any effort into throwing a body punch in seemingly years since performing at the regional level.
Per BoxRec, Povetkin is 6’2″. Wilder is a towering 6’7”. The American sports much longer arms too. This would all seem to the favor the defending champion.
Wladamir Klitshcko was another massive Heavyweight and one that totally outclassed Povetkin. But Klitshcko operated with a far different style than Wilder. And against Povetkin, that gameplan was frankly illegal, holding and clinching that sent the division back 100 years. Klitschko’s jab was also a factor. Something Wilder has proven capable of using against Bermane Stiverne, but can’t really operate with expertise.
Szpilka was left standing in the shadow of Wilder’s towering frame too. But his lateral movement befuddled his man and routinely found success going down and attacking the body. Povetkin’s feet aren’t as cute as Szpilka’s but he understand angles much better. Expect Povetkin to fire back from safer positions.
Of course, Wilder isn’t an athlete to overlook. Time is winding down on his development at 30 years old but his punching ability is truly scary.
It’s admirable to see Wilder, the defending champion, leaving his home to fight the best challenger if his life. It can bet certain he was happy to do so as he receives 75 percent of the 7 million dollars Povetkin’s promoter put up. But as it were, television rights are up in the air.
Speaking of TV, Wilder, a PBC and Showtime staple, got a new dance partner last week.
Anthony Joshua, newly crowned champion, chiseled hunk and Heavyweight boxing’s biggest prospect, signed a contract with the network a matter of days ago.
If Wilder gets by Povetkin, the sport has a trio of heavys that can transcend boxing like it did in the 1970s. Joshua is a gigantic puncher and can be trusted to dispose of scheduled challenger Dominic Breazeale in June. Wilder is brash and happy to promote a rivalry. And making his way from Down Under is Joseph Parker, a scintillating puncher, fighting Carlos Takam for a mandatory position to Joshua’s IBF strap.
Parker is not tied down by any cable exclusive deals so he is free to join the party.
The winner of next weekend’s clash, Wilder or Povetkin, will be the corner to boxing’s next great Heavyweight triangle.