By Johnny Walker
WBA “regular” heavyweight champion Alexander Povetkin was awarded a majority decision win in Stuttgart, Germany, today after being battered around the ring by WBO cruiserweight king Marco “Captain” Huck for the second half of a thrilling heavyweight title fight.
The judges’ final tallies were 114-114, 116-113, and 116-112, but the scores could have easily been reversed.
Boxing Insider’s heavyweight division scribes had it scored in favor of Huck, 117-113 (JW) and 116-114 (PA).
Both fighters came out wary, Huck taking the opening round with some hard left jabs and a trademark flurry that got Povetkin’s attention. Povetkin came roaring back in round two, landing some hard hooks to Huck’s torso, and continued attacking in round three, scoring with a big uppercut and some nice three-punch combinations. It seemed that Povetkin might now be taking over the fight with his heavyweight power.
Huck, however, turned the tide once again in this seesaw affair in round four, leaving Povetkin on shaky legs–for the first of many times–with another flurry of punches. Povetkin now started what would be a continual pattern of bending forward and ducking down low to avoid Huck’s onslaught, leaving the German with nowhere to punch except the back of the Russian’s head. Huck now got the first of what would be numerous warnings from the invasive referee Luis Pabon, who had a negative impact on this fight with his one-sided approach. Not once would Povetkin be reprimanded for his tactics.
Povetkin was already starting to tire in round five, and Huck smartly started to throw uppercuts to try to catch the champion in the act of bending forward. Huck was also still landing some clean, hard jabs that were taking the steam out of Povetkin’s attack. Povetkin rallied in a close round six, landing some thudding body shots on the challenger, but Huck came back at the end of the round with three hard right hands.
Round seven seemed to this writer a pivotal one in the fight. Huck rocked Povetkin with a hard left, and the Russian again tried to bend low. Huck, however, kept pressing and flurried Povetkin, who now was staggering around the ring in a daze, almost going to the mat. Huck ran out of time, or he might have been able to finish Povetkin off then and there.
Round eight saw Huck start off with three stiff left jabs, but Povetkin, now clearly winded, connected with a hard straight right at the end of the round. Povetkin was breathing hard through his mouth in round nine as Huck stepped on the gas, landing an assortment of uppercuts, overhand rights and stiff left jabs. This pattern continued through rounds ten and eleven, as Povetkin looked as if he might collapse from utter exhaustion. Both fighters traded hard shots after the bell in the penultimate round.
Povetkin valiantly tried to rally and save his title in the final round, backing up the challenger with a flurry of punches. Now suffering from a couple of facial cuts and contusions, Huck nevertheless again rallied to land a succession of hard, flush right hands that had Povetkin reeling around the ring: if nothing else, the Russian demonstrated a great chin in this fight. Huck crashed a final huge right hand into Povetkin’s face at the bell, and it seemed that there would be a new WBA “regular” heavyweight champion.
Somewhat perplexingly, though, the judges disagreed, handing the majority decision to the champion. But to paraphrase HBO boxing commentator Jim Lampley, it would be fair in this case to say that while Povetkin (24-0, 16 KOs), won the fight, the brave challenger Marco “Captain” Huck (34-2, 25 KOs) won the event.
A rematch is definitely in order here.