HBO Boxing Preview: Cotto vs. Rodriguez, Klitschko vs. Povetkin


By: William Holmes

On Saturday night HBO presents a split site showing of championship boxing as Miguel Cotto takes on Delvin Rodriguez and Terence Crawford takes on Andrey Klimov in Orlando, Florida, while world champion Wladimir Klitschko takes on Alexander Povetkin for Wladimir’s world heavyweight titles from Moscow, Russia.

Saturday will be Cotto’s first time fighting under the tutelage of hall of fame trainer Freddie Roach and he looks to get back to his winning ways and earn another world title shot. Povetkin represents one of Wladimir Klitscko’s toughest tests in years and a rare showing on US television for the current champion.

The following is a preview of all three televised fights.

Terence Crawford (21-0) vs. Andrey Klimov (16-0); Lightweights

Terence Crawford is one of Top Rank’s brightest prospects and he looks like he could easily become the top lightweight in the world, especially since Adrien Broner has seemingly left the lightweight division for the more lucrative welterweight division.

Crawford is a slick boxer who will be slightly shorter, but have a slight reach advantage over his fellow undefeated opponent. Crawford has stopped an impressive 16 of his opponents including four of his past five opponents.

HBO has taken a liking to Crawford and his recent history of bouts shows why. He stopped Alejandro Sanabria in his last bout and nearly shut out the always tough Breidis Prescott on HBO at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. He’s only 26 years old and has stayed very active.

He fought four times in 2012 and Saturday will be his third fight in 2013. He also comes from a strong amateur background and has a high ceiling.

His opponent, Andrey Klimov, is also undefeated but is six years Crawford’s elder. Klimov has only stopped half of his oppponents. He’s a tough and durable fighter, and he impressed many when he beat John Molina by a majority decision in June of this year.

He’s also defeated the likes of Matias Ezequiel Gomez and Alejandro Rodriguez, but the quality of his opposition wasn’t so great before those two fights.

Klimov is a solid technical boxer, but Crawford does everything just a little bit better. It’s an intriguing bout and Klimov should not be taken lightly, but Crawford has the skills to pass this test.

Miguel Cotto (37-4) vs. Delvin Rodriguez (28-6-3); Junior Middleweights

Miguel Cotto used to be one of the most feared body punchers in the light welterweight division, and he’s fought the best of the best from the light welterweight to the junior middleweight divisions.

However, Cotto has recently ignored the requests of Freddie Roach to drop down to the welterweight division, despite the fact he’s 0-2 in his last two junior middleweight bouts. He only stands at 5’7” and will be giving up nearly five inches in height and over three inches in reach to the much taller Delvin Rodriguez.

Cotto has defeated the likes of Carlos Maussa, Randall Bailey, DeMarcus Corley, Paulie Malignaggi, Carlos Quintana, Zab Judah, Shane Mosley, Antonio Margarito, Joshua Clottey, Yuri Foreman, and Ricardo Mayorga.

Most of his big wins however came at lighter weights. His wins over Foreman, Mayorga, and Margarito were in the junior middleweight divisions, but they were against overhyped fighters who were also fighting at a higher weight class than what they are accustomed to.

Cotto looked slow in his last bout against Austin Trout and needs a solid win badly to stay relevant in the junior middleweight division. He has 30 stoppages on his record, but his last stoppage victory came in 2011.

Many fans believe Rodriguez to be a “tune up” fight for Miguel Cotto. They would be wrong.

Rodriguez has decent power, he’s stopped 16 of his opponents, but he has a solid chin. He’s only been stopped once in his career and that came way back in 2007. He’s defeated the likes of Freddy Hernandez, George Tahdooahnippah, Pawel Wolak, and Mike Arnaoutis.

His most recent losses have come to Austin Trout, Ashley THeophane, Rafal Jackiewicz, and Isaac Hlatshwayo.

Rodriguez will be taking a big step up in competition in fighting Cotto, but Cotto’s career has been on the decline and Rodriguez has the tools necessary to beat him. If Rodriguez can use his reach and height to keep Cotto at bay, it may be a long night for Freddie Roach’s charge.

Cotto should still pull off a decision victory, but it won’t be an easy win.

Wladimir Klitschko (60-3) vs. Alexander Povetkin (26-0); IBF/WBO/WBA Heavyweight Titles

Wladimir Klitschko does not get the credit he deserves.

He’s stopped an incredible 51 of his opponents and has looked absolutely dominating inside the ring since his last “fluke” defeat to Lamon Brewster in 2004. Critics used to question Klitschko’s chin, but 18 straight victories and stoppages in three of his past four bouts should have put those questions to rest.

It’s strange that the world’s best in the historic “glamour” division of boxing doesn’t get the American television credit he deserves, but it’s a welcome sign of things to come in the heavyweight division for Klitschko to finally get some HBO exposure again.

Both Wladimir and Alexander Povetkin are former Super Heavyweight Olympic Gold Medalists. Wladimir however has shown a willingness to fight anyone and everyone while Povetkin has been fighting a steady diet of “Who??”

Povetkin has decent knockout power, he’s stopped 18 of his 26 opponents. But even though he’s the WBA Heavyweight Champion he’s fought so-so opponents. He beat an old Hasim Rahman in 2012, a much smaller Marco Huck in a razor thin majority decision, and an overrated Ruslan Chagaev in August of 2011.

Those are his only three “noteworthy” opponents. He’s a product of favorable matchmaking.

Klitschko will have four inches in height and six inches in reach working to his advantage on Saturday night. Nobody uses their height and reach advantage as well as Wladimir Klitschko.

He’s beaten the best the heavyweight division has had to offer. He’s made it look easy against the likes of Mariusz Wach, Tony Thompson, David Haye, Samuel Peter, Eddie Chambers, Hasim Rahman, Sultan Ibragimov, Calvin Brock, Chris Byrd, and others.

His chin can be tested. All three of his defeats were by stoppage and were considered upsets at the time. But he hasn’t been defeated since 2004 and the late, great, Emanuel Steward did an excellent job at teaching Klitschko to use his jab to stay out of trouble.

On paper, Povetkin looks to be Klitschko’s toughest test in awhile. But inside the ring, it should be just another easy day at work for the heavyweight champion.

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