By Mikko Salo: The first of the three consecutive star-studded heavyweight weekends included some unexpectedly bizarre pre-fight antics, an unexpectedly competitive Championship Fight and an unexpectedly violent post-fight press conference.
Vitali Klitschko (44-2, 40 KO), competing with an injured left shoulder from the early rounds onwards, took care of matters inside the ring by defending his portion of the Klitschko Undisputed Heavyweight Championship with a lopsided decision over game but overmatched Dereck Chisora (15-3, 9 KO). Before and after the fight Dereck Chisora took care of no-one-exactly-knows-what outside the ring by slapping Vitali in the face, spitting Wladimir in the face and taking part in a bare-knuckle press-conference contest with retired former Cruiserweight Champion and heavyweight trinketholder David Haye. The Crazy British Brawlers will get their official verdicts from various organisations standing in line to dole out punishment. An eventful couple of days in the heavyweight division, I should say.
What the bizarre weekend brought about is an interesting scenario involving The Undisputed Champions and the Crazy British Brawlers. To cut a long story short: The Klitschkos loath Haye. The Klitschkos loath Chisora. The Klitschkos have KOed 89 out of their 105 opponents but they had to settle for decisions against both Haye and Chisora. The Klitschkos badly want to knock out both Crazy British Brawlers. The Klitschkos smell money. Chisora smells money. Haye smells money (although he seems to be delusional about his current market value). We`ll see what comes out of this in the near future.
Press conference brawls aside, the second stanza of this three-weekend Heavyweight Extravaganza will produce boxing-wise the most credible challenger to the Klitschko`s Heavyweight Throne. He will emerge this Saturday in Porsche-Arena, Stuttgart, Germany from Team Sauerland`s in-house eliminator bout between The Ring #2 heavyweight contender Alexander Povetkin (23-0, 16 KO) of Russia and Marco Huck (34-1, 25 KO) of Germany, former cruiserweight #1 contender and still a beltholder in that division.
Huck stormed the post-fight press conference after Povetkin`s December 3rd dominant KO win over Cedric Boswell in Helsinki, offering a challenge to the Russian. The Serbian-born Huck wants to use the #2 heavyweight contender as a stepping stone to create a megafight against one of the Undisputed Heavyweight Kings. A fight against a Klitschko would give Huck a chance to become the first German Heavyweight Champion since Max Schmeling in 1930-32. Of the two Saturday`s combatants Huck as a German citizen and a speaker of the German language would definitely be the more marketable Klitschko challenger for Team Sauerland.
By beating Povetkin Huck would also clearly establish himself as the owner of the most meaningful heavyweight scalp of the recent crop of cruiser-turned-heavy hopefuls vying for the Heavyweight Throne. When considering his current Ring rating, form and skill set, the stage of his career and his amateur pedigree, Alexander Povetkin is a cut above any heavyweight David Haye (Bonin, Barrett, Valuev, Ruiz, Harrison) or Tomasz Adamek (Golota, Estrada, Arreola, Grant, Maddalone, McBride) were able to beat before getting their unsuccessful shots at the Klitschko Brothers.
As a cruiserweight Marco Huck has had a very successful career. He is relatively experienced for his age (27), owning victories over current cruiserweight #3 contender Denis Lebedev and #6 contender Ola Afolabi. His lone loss came by way of a dramatic 12th round KO in 2007 against the longtime cruiser standout and current #2 contender Steve Cunningham.
The problem with Marco Huck`s chances to sneak through this cleverly created in-house shortcut to be the front-runner Klitschko challenger isn`t really what Huck has done as a cruiserweight up to this point but what he has not done as a heavyweight. Even if his experienced trainer Ulli Wegner has certainly done his best to prepare Huck for what is in store for him, the cruiserweight beltholder has not tasted heavyweight power in a professional fight. Povetkin is going to give him a good dose of that come Saturday.
In challenging Alexander Povetkin, Marco Huck is taking a giant leap in competition by launching his heavyweight campaign against an undefeated #2 contender and former Olympic Champion. Povetkin has already shared the ring with several top-tier heavyweights in Chris Byrd, Eddie Chambers and Ruslan Chagaev, coming away victorious on each occasion. At the moment Povetkin is already by far the most accomplished would-be challenger to the Klitschko Heavyweight Championship, although the Russian has strangely been ducking the Champs for a couple of years now. Povetkin is 32 years old and seemingly entering his fighting prime. Last August he displayed heart and determination in gutting out a tough decision over former beltholder Chagaev and in December he showed crisp form after a slow start in dismantling Cedric Boswell with sharp combinations and aggressive ring generalship.
What we don`t know until fight night is what effect, if any, the split with trainer Teddy Atlas has had on Alexander Povetkin`s preparation. Atlas has been accusing Povetkin`s camp of betraying him by demanding Atlas to arrive in Moscow to train Povetkin for the Huck fight while the US-based trainer has had broadcasting obligations in his home country. Without having knowledge of the language in the contract between Atlas and Povetkin`s camp it has to be noted that this is not the first time Teddy Atlas has had ugly public run-ins with his fighters. With Atlas absent, Alexander Zimin has handled trainer`s duties and naturally the word to the media has been that everything is better than ever. What Atlas has recently brought to Povetkin`s corner are the motivational tactics the American is at times very adept in during fights. We will see if Povetkin would need that extra gear to bring home a victory against Huck.
What we do know is that we most likely are in for a very entertaining night of top-notch heavyweight action. Both fighters are willing to engage in heated exchanges and are not afraid to dish out and receive punishment. Both have shown their ability to brutally finish off opponents when getting on top of them and both possess reliable chins (although Huck`s has not been heavyweight-tested). Neither fighter enjoys a distinctive height or reach advantage, but as a natural heavyweight Povetkin will probably weigh in at 10-15 pounds heavier than Huck.
When contemplating the possible outcome of the fight, the slight size advantage and his more polished ring techniques might swing the bout in Povetkin`s favour. With his size and sharper technique Povetkin can nullify Huck`s brawling style and beat the German to the punch with controlled aggression. Huck will not be able to bully the bigger Povetkin around the ring like he has been able to do against most of his cruiser opponents. Unless Huck has developed his defensive skills and can display better speed as a heavyweight than Povetkin, it seems like the cruiser beltholder is trying to bite a bit more than he can chew. Nevertheless, the German warrior will definitely give it his all in chasing his dream of following in the footsteps of Max Schmeling.
February 24, 2012.