There is no division in boxing quite like the Heavyweight division. No fighters through history have been spoken about in the way we speak about Jack Johnson, Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali, George Foreman and Mike Tyson. There is just something extra special about the Heavyweights.
Unfortunately it's fair to say that no matter how special the Heavyweight division is historically, it's not at it's most exciting right now. The US hasn't provided a notable Heavyweight in over a decade, the supposedly "exciting" David Haye has been incapable of cashing the cheque's his mouth has been writing and worst of all the top 2 fighters in the division have no chance of fighting each other due to the fact they are brothers.
Thankfully however this weekend promises to see the Heavyweight division given a sparkling of magic powder as Wladimir Klitschko (60-3, 51), the seemingly indomitable king of the division faces talented Russian Alexander Povetkin (26-0, 18) a man long tipped as the most obvious successor to the Klitschko monopoly of the world titles.
Of course a Russian Heavyweight challenging a Kazakhstan born Ukrainian may not seem that magical on paper but with everything at stake it is something special. Not only are the IBF, WBA, WBO, IBO and Ring Magazine titles on the line but so too is the staggering amount of money on offer and the potential place in history that the winner could find themselves getting.
For Klitschko his IBF title reign is the second longest reign of any Heavyweight champion in history, his 14 defenses of that belt is the 3rd most of any champion in the division. A victory here and he could very well end up breaking both records, such is the sorry state of much of the division. On the hand a victory for Povetkin would see him go from a much maligned pretender to arguably the biggest draw in the sport with a potential national audience of 143,000,000 fans and many more internationally who support him on the basis that he defeated Wladimir Klitschko.
With such much at stake there really is something a bit special being brought back in to the division.
Unfortunately for Povetkin he, like most others, has been written off before even setting foot in the ring with Klitschko. He's priced at around 11/2 and seen as the lamb walking to the slaughter. This isn't helped by the fact that Povetkin has twice reneged on bouts with Klitschko, firstly with an injury then secondly when his then trainer didn't have the belief in him to defeat Wladimir.
Aged 34 Povetkin has seemingly been around for an eternity, though this has been because of how highly spoken about he was when he turned professional in 2005. Prior to turning to the professional ranks was an outstanding amateur running up a reported record of 125-7 with Gold medals at the 2004 Olympics, the 2003 World Championships and the European championships of 2002 and 2004.
Much like Povetkin the 37 year old Klitschko first made his name in the amateurs. His amateur career, which resulted in a record of 134-6, was highlighted by his own Olympic Gold medal back in 1996 though was also lined with medals from various competitions.
Whilst their amateur career were, on paper, similar, their actual professional career's have been vastly different. Povetkin, turning professional in his late 20's was rushed into notable fights, he was given the "sink or swim" treatment and generally found himself swimming with only really Eddie Chambers pushing him close until he fought Marco Huck last year. This strategy paid off with Povetkin getting quickly ranked and winning the WBA "regular" in his 22nd professional bout.
Klitschko's career was a little more hectic. He turned professional aged 20, very young for a Heavyweight and was kept busy early in his career with fights on a very regular basis. Unfortunately his activity caught up with him and after little more than 2 years as a professional he was upset by Ross Puritty in what was his 25th bout in around 25 months. Since then Klitschko has been a 2-time world champion, winning his first WBO world title when he was just 24 and winning his currently titles in he last decade as he's becoming the dominant fighter of his generation.
Not only have the two men had different careers but physically they are very, very different and this, in turn, has lead to them each using a different style.
Povetkin is somewhat short and stubby. He stands at round 6'2" with a 75" reach whilst looking slightly doughy at around 227-230lbs. This has seen him fighting as a somewhat pressure fighter. He has excellent skills and can deliver some wicked shots, though he has got questionable stamina, questionable toughness and maybe most worryingly only average power. Yes his stoppage rate is around 70% but the most notable opponents on his record have gone the distance.
Klitschko is he opposite. He's tall at 6'6" and fights taller using his 82" reach to deliver repeated and heavy jabs, thunderous right hands and all whilst remaining patient on the outside. Unlike the doughy and soft physique of Povetkin, Klitschko always looks in great shape with a very athletic frame of 240-250lbs well spread. His stamina, like Povetkin's is questionable, so is his chin, but his power, especially from his potent right hand, is not.
For the Russian to win he must, at all costs, avoid the dynamite right hand. If that lands it could very easily be an early nights work for Klitschko. Instead he needs to use his speed, get inside and neutralise the reach of Klitschko. If Klitschko gets full extension on his shots he's devastating. Unfortunately for Povetkin the Ukrainian champion has found ways to land his fight controlling jab on everyone he has faced over the last 10 years or so and it'd be no shock if he landed it again here, at will.
With so much at stake we expect this to start very slowly, neither man wanting to make the first mistake. Unfortunately for Povetkin this visualisation isn't a good one for him because Wladimir Klitschko doesn't make many mistakes if you let him work at his pace. If we continue to mentally imagine the fight, Klitschko's jab will be thudding the face of Povetkin through the middle rounds and by round 9 or 10 the Russian will need miracle to avoid the booming right hand.
For Asian boxing we'd love to see the upset, though we're struggling to see how Povetkin can overcome the jab, the right hand, the reach and the overall skillset of Klitschko.
The special, magical feeling this bout has going in to it, may feel a little less than a cheap card trick by the end of the night. But don't let that stop you from looking forward to a bout that may, just, live up to the big fight feel that it seems to have around it.
World Title Previews
The biggest fights get broken down as we try to predict who will come out on top in the up coming world title bouts.