Courtesy of Ya-number1
Russian Heavyweight champion Alexander Povetkin (25-0, 17) looks to make the 4th defence of his WBA title this Friday as he takes on unbeaten Pole Andrzej Wawrzyk (27-0, 13).
Povetkin, pictured opposite, was a former amateur standout that many singled out to be the successor to the Klitschko brothers. His successes in the unpaid ranks included both World and Olympic gold medals and well over 120 wins from just over 130 bouts.
In his early professional career the Russian really did race off to a great professional start and beat numerous talented fighters. In all honesty his rise through the ranks really did send shock waves through the division as he blazed through solid opponents.
Sadly after an electric start to his career Povetkin's development started to slow down drastically as he had various issues including a change in trainer (to Teddy Atlas) and injuries that helped prevent a fight with Wladimir Klitschko. Despite those issues however Povetkin has claimed the WBA title and made 3 defenses of it as he's tried to prove that he's the #3 Heavyweight on the planet.
With victories over Larry Donald, Chris Byrd, Eddie Chambers, Ruslan Chagaev and Marco Huck we've certainly seen Povetkin in with talented opponents though we've also seen plenty of issues with the talented fighter. Against Huck it was obvious that Povetkin's stamina isn't great and his punch resistance whilst solid is unspectacular. Offensively he's a hurtful puncher with surprising hand speed though he's certainly not a banger and his record certainly makes him look like a harder puncher than he really is.
With Povetkin's undoubted resume being very impressive it's a bit of a shock that he is given the slating he gets on forums but much of that is due to the hype he got early in his career as a "Klitschko Killer". It appears that we could well see Povetkin v Klitschko, if, Povetkin gets beyond Wawrzyk here.
As the challenger Wawrzyk is a sizable under-dog, though this means he's fighting as a fighter with nothing to lose. His record, whilst containing an "0" in the L column is certainly worth risking for this massive opportunity and with many dismissing him already there is a case Povetkin could actually be over-looking him.
Aged 25 the Pole hasn't had a breath taking career so far. He's been a professional since 2006 though lacks any sort of notable win on the world stage with his better wins being over fringe European level guys like Denis Bakhtov. In all honesty it was the victory over Bakhtov that told us a lot about Wawrzyk, notably that he has heart though not the greatest punch resistance and the fact he was hurt several times by Bahktov, doesn't bode well here.
Technically Wawrzyk is "decent" but nothing spectacular, he makes some pretty basic mistakes, and has a lazy looking jab that is there to countered. With those two issues it's actually quite easy to see a Povetkin win quite early in the bout with his sharp straight right. If Wawrzyk has tightened up defensively he could give Povetkin some worries though in all honesty it's hard to see how the challenger could score the upset. It's obvious that he can't out boxing and also pretty clear that he hasn't the power to take advantage of Povetkin's questionable chin.
It's genuinely difficult here to see anything but a Povetkin win, sure upsets happen but a Wawrzyk win here would be amongst the biggest upsets of the year.
Courtesy of Steffaville
The Cruiserweight division over the past few years has been one of the sports most entertaining divisions despite often being over-looked. Fighters Marco Huck, Steve Cunningham and Yoan Pablo Hernandez have really put the division in to the limelight thanks to entertaining battles time and time again.
For many the best Cruiserweight on the planet, isn't one of the names mentioned above but is in fact Russian hard hitter Denis Lebedev (25-1, 19) who makes the second defense of his WBA title this Friday when he faces Panamanian Guillermo Jones (38-3-2, 30).
Lebedev, pictured above with Enzo Maccarinelli, is a short Cruiserweight (as seen quite evidently in the picture), though he's also a stocky, powerful fighter who can often negate his size disadvantages. Aggressive he's strong and hurtful, though also has very solid over-all skills, good patience (a little too good at times) and a fantastic finishers instinct.
Having faced a relative who's who in recent years, including James Toney, Roy Jones Junior, Maccarinelli, Huck and Alexander Alekseev it's fair to say that Lebedev is a proving quality. Sure he's managed to get a reputation of scalping big names who past it (Jones and Toney) but fights with Huck, Alekseev and Maccarinello were all against solid contemporaries.
The fight with Huck has been the most "interesting" of Lebedev's career so far. Although he "lost" a decision (a highly controversial one) to Huck, Lebedev showed not only his powerful punching (which apparently broke a rib of Huck) but also his solid boxing as he forced Huck to box almost entirely off the ropes. Out-manning Huck is never an easy task but Lebedev made it look genuinely simple.
Aged 33 Lebedev isn't a spring chicken but for a Cruiserweight he's still got a few years at the top and despite his face looking "weathered" he hasn't really been in many wars.
In Jones we have a very interesting challenger who has a career full of ups and downs.
Aged 41 Jones has been a professional since 1993 and has seen his body change from that of a lanky Welterweight kid to full grown Cruiserweight man. Although still very tall for the weight it was always amazing that he could ever have made Welterweight like he did in the early 1990's.
When fighters move up in weight we tend to see them scoring few stoppages but for Jones the move up hasn't really been shown to effect his power. At Welterweight, Light Middleweight and Cruiserweight he has been shown to hit hard enough to keep fighters honest with out necessarily being concussive (at least at world level).
At his best Jones was a very talented fighter who had exceptional skills and lived up to his name of "El Felino" (The Cat). He was quick, elusive, tough when he needed to be and hit with very clean but yet sneaky shots. His victories over Wayne Braithwaite, Firat Arslan and Valery Brudov were all solid victories and in fact he could well have also had notable victories over Steve Cunningham and Johnny Nelson had the judges favoured him like many fans did.
It was however, a long time ago that Jones was in his prime and what he has left is a really a big question. At his best he could certainly have held his own with the top Cruiserweights from throughout history though with just 2 fights in the last 4 years it's fair to say that he is not still at his best.
Prime for prime it'd be hard to go against Jones who will take a 5" height advantage and a notable reach advantage in to the ring, now however the logical view is Lebedev to win.
With his power, strength, explosiveness and excellent inside game it wouldn't be the biggest shock if Lebedev managed to stop Jones late in bout. The aging former champion, who actually enters on the back of 7 straight victories (6 by stoppages), is probably going to be made to look his age here.
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.