New heavyweight era dawns as Wilder plays Russian roulette
FRANK WARREN’S SCRAPBOOK – 18.3.16
Deontay Wilder hasn’t exactly set the heavyweight world alight since yanking the WBC belt from the waist of Bermane Stiverne 14 months ago.
He has looked some distance from than the fearsome, big-hitting monster we saw when he was moving towards his title shot. His three defences against hand-picked opposition that at best could be described as ordinary have failed to set pulses racing.
Now comes his moment of truth. He has to go to Russia to face former WBA champion Alexander Povetkin, who many believe is the best contender around in any of the heavyweight rankings.
The Bronze Bomber from Alabama wanted to stay in America for this fourth defence, against his mandatory challenger. A date and venue have yet to be confirmed but it is mooted to be in Moscow on May 21.
Wilder claims he is not worried about heading into Povetkin’s back-yard. Well, he should be.
This is a tough, tough call. I am quite surprised that Al Haymon’s outfit lost out on what is a very intriguing bout, Povetkin’s billionaire promoter, Andrey Ryabinsky winning a purse bid believed to be north of $7million.
Povetkin is no slouch, and hasn’t been since his amateur days when he had a perfect pedigree.
He was Olympic super-heavyweight champion in Athens 2004, and was also world and European amateur champion.
At 6ft 2in he is no Ivan Drago, and he may be 36 but he is strong, skilful and hits hard. His only defeat in 31 contests came in October 2013 when he lost his WBA ‘regular’ title to Wladimir Klitschko.
It may be of some comfort to Wilder that this was also in Moscow. But that night Klitschko turned on one of his signature performances, boxing with supreme confidence, knocking down Povetkin once in the second round and three times in the seventh. At the end all three judges scored the fight 119-104 for Klitschko.
Wilder will need to be similarly dominant if he is to retain his belt but he has done little since becoming champion to indicate that this will be the case.
Lennox Lewis believes Wilder will struggle, suggesting there are many weaknesses in Wilder’s game, and that Povetkin has both the power and experience to dethrone him. He could be right.
Exactly forty five years on from The Fight of a Lifetime when Joe Frazier beat Muhammad Ali at Madison Square Garden, the heavyweight division has descended into a state off fragmentation with a quartet of claimants to the various alphabetical thrones.
This may be frustrating and confusing but at least it sustains interest. This certainly has been heightened by Lucas Browne winning the same WBA title Povetkin once held.
I like the Aussie slugger. He’s brash and lively and I predict he will create some havoc on the heavyweight scene.
As usual David Haye has been busy making himself busy, shouting the odds for a fight with Browne who responds with typical Down Under forthrightness, tweeting: “I think it’s funny how full of shit @mrdavidhaye is. I’m not fighting him. (Fres) Oquendo is next, it’s all in the contract. A fight with Haye ain’t.”
Seems far more likely that @mrdavidhaye will end up with his proposed 02 May date against 44-year-old has-been Shannon Briggs, who is also here busy shooting his mouth off.
That is, if the Board of Control are happy that the psychologically unpredictable ancient American is a fit and proper opponent, which surely is by no means certain.
One exciting young heavyweight who in the very near future will be ready to upset the apple cart Haye has remounted is Hughie Fury, with whom I have just agreed a promotional agreement.
The undefeated 21-year-old (18-0), who is trained by his dad Peter, will have his first fight under the Queensberry banner on the undercard of Billy Joe Saunders‘ WBO world middleweight title defence against ‘Mad’ Max Bursak on Saturday April 30 at the Copper Box Arena in London’s Olympic Park, a bill exclusively live on BoxNation.
Not only do I think fast-punching Hughie could give Haye a few problems right now I predict it won’t be long before he is right up there in the higher echelon of heavyweights alongside his world champion cousin Tyson.
Tomorrow: Find out what’s in Hubbard’s Cupboard