Thursday, May 21, 2015

Povetkin-Perez: Who Will Move Closer To A Title Shot?

Longtime top Heavyweight contender Alexander Povetkin has been a cornerstone of the division for several years. Povetkin, who earned interim/regular champion status in the WBA’s Heavyweight ratings in August 2011 with a victory over former WBA world champion Ruslan Chagaev had to wait over two years for his opportunity to challenge unified IBF/WBO/WBA/IBO world champion Wladimir Klitschko.

Povetkin would remain active fighting and winning four bouts while waiting for his title shot against Klitschko. When Povetkin met Klitschko in October 2013, the then undefeated challenger put forth an extremely “Game” effort surviving four knockdowns in losing a hard fought twelve round unanimous decision. Despite suffering the first loss of his career, Povetkin as this observer stated in covering that fight earned much more respect coming out of that fight than he was given by some going into the fight and had clearly established himself as a legitimate player in the Heavyweight division.

Povetkin returned to the ring in May of last year dominating former world title challenger Manuel Charr en route to a seventh round knockout. In October of last year, Povetkin scored a tenth round knockout over contender Carlos Takam. The two knockout victories also earned Povetkin the number one ranking in the World Boxing Council’s (WBC) Heavyweight ratings.

Before Povetkin can set his sights on a potential title shot however, he will face current WBC number two rated contender Mike Perez on Friday, May 22nd in Moscow, Russia. This is an intriguing fight between one fighter who has fought for a world title before and another fighter who narrowly missed an opportunity to challenge for a world title.

In July of last year Perez lost an extremely close twelve round split decision to top contender and recent world title challenger Bryant Jennings in a WBC world title elimination bout. It was a fight that could have gone either way and despite suffering what was the first loss of his career, Perez showed why he is a top contender and gave Jennings all he could handle. Perez returned to the ring in February of this year scoring a second round knockout over journeyman contender Darnell Wilson.

Now Povetkin and Perez turn their attention to each other in what will be an elimination bout to determine the next mandatory challenger in the WBC Heavyweight ratings. This figures to be an interesting fight between two fighters who have shown a willingness to mix it up with their opponents.

What will interest me in this fight is how Perez will deal with the quick hands of Alexander Povetkin. Povetkin is known for his ability to land his punches in combination as well as his ability to be accurate with his offense. In his fight against Manuel Charr, Povetkin was able to consistently beat Charr to the punch and keep him on the defensive. Povetkin’s combination punching to the body and head eventually broke Charr down as the fight progressed in what was a dominating performance.

One might wonder whether Povetkin will attempt to take a similar approach in this fight against Perez. Perez is known as a fighter who can be aggressive and it will be interesting to see whether he will look to bring the fight to Povetkin from the outset or if he will look to be tactical and play the role of counter puncher. It would not surprise this observer to see these fighters being willing to stand toe to toe with each other at some point in this fight. Although one might consider the Chekhov, Russia native Povetkin a favorite in this fight, I expect this fight to be very competitive and it would not surprise me if this bout were to end up in a close decision similar to Perez’ fight with Bryant Jennings.

Perez was able to win most of the first half of his fight with Jennings by landing the cleaner, more effective punches. Perez was not however, able to sustain the pace he established in the early rounds and faded down the stretch allowing Jennings to get back into the fight and ultimately earn a hard fought decision. Perez must pace himself in this fight and must not fade in the middle and late rounds to be successful, in my opinion.

Who will come out on top in this fight remains to be seen, but what awaits the winner will be a title shot against the winner of the upcoming WBC Heavyweight world championship fight between undefeated world champion Deontay Wilder and WBC number nine rated contender Eric Molina on June 13th. Will it be Povetkin or Perez?

We will find out on Friday May 22nd.

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

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