IBF and universally recognized #1 heavyweight contender Alexander Povetkin risks his guaranteed world title shot (and an approximate million dollar payday) with a tune-up 10-rounder vs. American Jason “Big Six” Estrada in Germany.
Both fighters look in very good shape, focused and serious. Estrada, known to be a flabby sort, looks to be in the best shape I’ve ever seen him. With his boyish looks, 29-year-old Povetkin, is boxing for the first time in nine months since the calf injury canceled his mandatory date with Wladimir Klitschko.
Round 1: Small ring. Not much action, both start carefully. Estrada looks a little more precise and quicker fisted. After the first, rusty Povetkin looks a little winded on his stool.
Round 2: Povetkin shows his nice left hook and right hand and invests in some body shots. Estrada is a bit more active. It’s still on even terms, no one establishes any advantage yet.
Round 3: Povetkin still is easy to hit with right hands as the man from Providence, RI lands a counter right. Estrada lacks power – he only has three stoppage wins in 15 victories. He may lack pop but Estrada has talent, I like the way he’s handling the occasion. The Russian Olympic champ in 2004 is good, but like Sultan Ibragimov and Ruslan Chagaev, it’s hard to imagine Povetkin ever becoming a star in America.
Round 4: At 6-ft-2 Povetkin doesn’t use the jab much. He looks powerful but somewhat ordinary – until he puts his punches together with fury and precision. Then you see why he is #1 contender.
Round 5: This fight looks like a sparring session at times. Not that much action. It’s pretty close, Povetkin is probably up by a point or two.
Round 6: The German crowd is quiet. It’s a technical fight. Povetkin has good, strategic footwork. Estrada lands some lead rights, but not much follow up. For a handpicked tune-up he’s impressing though. Povetkin looks like he’s breathing hard between rounds.
Round 7: Estrada changes tactics and tries to move forward more. Not much action, but Estrada lands a nice counter right uppercut. Povetkin fires a volley of shots at the end of the round and the audience applauds.
Round 8: Povetkin moving forward now, he’s looking to finish. He must have been pacing and holding back earlier to get the rounds in. “Sasha, Sasha,” chants the crowd. “Big Six, Big Six,” yells the female Estrada supporter.
Round 9: Povetkin is a very good basic fighter but a great young Tyson, Foreman, Lewis or Klitschko would have stopped Estrada by now. Povetkin opening up more now, shows a triple left hook. Estrada seems out of ideas and ambition. .
Round 10: Povetkin saved his best for last. He has his rhythm now and his unleashing. Lots of punches, left hook, left uppercut, double hook. Povetkin wants the stoppage and has Estrada staggering but the American showed tremendous heart to finish. Very good finish from the Russian.
99-94, 98-92, 97-93.
Good work for Povetkin. It was more Holyfield vs. Czyz than Tyson vs. Ribalta though. (Holyfield beat Czyz before he met Tyson and Tyson KOed Ribalta before he clobbered Berbick.) Top fighters sometimes have trouble in mediocre fights and Povetkin will be better next time, with higher stakes on the line. But if there’s anyone out there who believes Povetkin could beat Wladimir Klitschko in 2009 or 2010, I’d like to hear his reasoning. Povetkin reminds of Jerry Quarry – he’s a very good heavyweight, who just might be around at the wrong time. Povetkin might be best served by waiting two years to meet Klitschko who would be 35 by then. As for Estrada, he proved he has world class heart, skills, poise. His power station needs a boosting though.