by Johnny Walker
While many opponents of both current heavyweight king Wladimir Klitschko and now retired WBC world champ Vitali Klitschko have quickly faded away or never been the same again, Russian Alexander Povetkin seems to be the exception to that paradigm.
Since losing to Wladimir in 2013, Povetkin has emerged a new, fearsome fighter, gaining momentum with wins over Manuel Charr and Carlos Takam, and today continuing that streak in Moscow with a quick and decisive destruction of Mike Perez.
The bout had barely gotten underway when Povetkin, fighting at the highest weight of his career but looking as if that was added weight in muscle, with bulging arms and a rippling back, staggered a sleepy Perez with a hard right hand. Essentially the fight was already over, as Perez never really recovered, his legs now Jello as he tried to respond and the Russian crowd went wild.
Another vicious right hand sent Perez tumbling to the mat, and the fighter’s glazed eyes indicated that he was finished. Referee Massimo Barrovecchio perhaps unwisely sent Perez back into battle, and another right hand shot from Povetkin nearly sent Perez clear through the ropes and out of the ring. Povetkin (29-1, 21 KOs) was thus declared the winner of the bout by TKO at 1:31 of round one.
American WBC world heavyweight title holder Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder (the belt captured with a win over Bermane Stiverne after Vitali Klitschko retired for a life in politics) now finds Povetkin, who many rate as the number two heavyweight in the world after Wladimir Klitschko, as his mandatory challenger for the belt.
In bouts on the undercard, WBC cruiserweight king Grigory “Pretty Boy” Drodz (40-1, 28 KOs) stopped Lukasz Janik in round nine after pitching a shutout with a boxing exhibition that entertained the Moscow crowd.
Muscular Russian cruiserweight Rakhim “The Machine” Chakhkiev (23-1, 18 KOs) also won the IBO cruiserweight title after a rather routine performance punctuated by a sudden massive body shot to the solar plexus of American Junior Anthony Wright (13-1-1, 11 KOs) giving him a TKO win at 2:39 of round eight.
Also, former heavyweight title challengers Manuel “Diamond Boy” Charr and Aussie Alex Leapai fought for relevance in the division, with the colorful Charr taking the fight by unanimous decision scores of 98-94, 100-90 and 97-92.