By Johnny Walker
WBA “regular” heavyweight champion Alexander Povetkin destroyed a sadly uncompetitive Hasim Rahman today, stopping him in the second round of their “fight” at the Sporthalle in Hamburg, Germany.
The most positive thing that can be said for this farcical bout is that Povetkin (25-0, 17 KOs) seemed to be much more energized and focused under new trainer and former light welterweight champion Kostya Tszyu than he did last time out under the aegis of Alexander Semin in a underwhelming performance against cruiserweight champion Marco “Captain” Huck.
The long past-it, two-time former world champion Rahman (50-8-2, 41 KOs) did his reputation and the image of the sport of boxing no favors by showing up for this bout merely to take home a paycheck, but then again, there is no real reason why mandatory challenger Rahman should have been there in the first place, so to put all the blame on him is inaccurate.
Amazingly, Rahman appeared to be on rubbery legs before any punches were even exchanged in round one, and if Povetkin had wanted to turn up the energy level, the fight would have never made it out of the initial stanza.
As it was, Povetkin seemed to hurt Rahman–whose movement seemed restricted, perhaps by a pre-fight injury–with every punch he landed. After the Russian caught “The Rock” with a big left hand early in round two, the American went to the ropes and tried to cover up, but Povetkin, to his credit, was ready to close the show, and bombarded Rahman with punches until referee Gustavo Padilla mercifully called off the action at 1:46 of the round.
Earlier on the same card in a much more entertaining bout, European heavyweight champion Kubrat Pulev of Bulgaria moved further up the ladder toward a world title shot against Wladimir Klitschko, cruising to a win over the nearly 6’8″ Russian giant Alexander Ustinov.
Pulev drew upon his extensive amateur background to totally outbox the lumbering Russian, slicing his face up with an accurate left jab for the first half of the fight, then mixing in some hard right hands and left hooks in the second half.
Ustinov had a few fleeting moments of joy when he scored with some big right hands in round seven. Pulev, however, never lost his composure and responded immediately with some hard rights of his own.
Pulev (17-0, 9 KOs) was so relaxed he even offered a few playful jabs at the ringside camera during a clinch in round ten.
By round eleven, Ustinov’s face looked much worse for the wear, his nose bloody and his left eyebrow cut. After another exchange where he came out on the wrong end of the punishment and with Pulev now looking to finish big, the previously unbeaten Ustinov (27-1, 21 KOs) took a knee and sadly shook his head, wanting no more.
The win makes the increasingly impressive Bulgarian bad boy, who dates sexy pop princess Andrea back home, the number one challenger for Wladimir Klitschko’s IBF world championship title.