Wladimir Klitschko produced one his ugliest performances in Russia on Saturday night as the four-belt world heavyweight champion kept a firm grip on his titles against home fighter Alexander Povetkin.
The 37 year-old dominated proceedings in his customary fashion behind his jab and huge left hand, although the fight was marred by persistent holding, clinching and leaning on by Klitschko for the duration.
Povetkin’s tactics to win were obvious from the start as the former Olympic gold medallist attempted to get inside and land with overhand rights, but Klitschko’s defence seemed impenetrable as the Partizan crowd bayed for the Ukrainian’s blood.
Klitschko picked off the challenger constantly as he came in to get close and would then lean on top of Povetkin to stop him from returning fire. Referee Luis Pabon did nothing to stem this constant action from Klitschko and it wasn’t until the eleventh round that a point was deducted for pushing Povetkin down.
The truth is that Povetkin was sapped of energy and bounce because of this hampering movement by Klitschko, who used all of his ring experience to block out any attacks from the unbeaten Russian.
A sweet left hand put Povetkin down in the second and Klitschko looked as if he could be in for an early night, but credit has to go to Povetkin as he kept on coming and did his best to make a fight of it.
There was never one dominant spell from Klitschko as he controlled the whole fight, but the formidable world number one did enjoy a 10-6 round in the seventh after dropping Povetkin three times. One or two could have been debated as pushes but Klitschko was never in any danger of losing the contest from start to finish.
The scorecards read pretty straightforward with the deduction and knockdowns and there was no controversy as all three judges agreed with my card of 119-104 to keep Klitschko firmly on top of his perch.
All-conquering Klitschko is no doubt the best heavyweight on the planet, but his entertainment value and reputation took a battering tonight as his style seems to have developed negatively in his veteran years. Many fans were displeased with the night’s viewing and believe the level of leniency towards the champion from Pabon was for too great.
In chief support, former world heavyweight title holder Ruslan Chagaev continued his good form with a decisive points win over Jovo Pudar. Claiming a fringe belt in the process, the 34 year-old from Uzbekistan was awarded a 118-108, 117-109 and 115-111 victory without much debate to improve his record to 32-2-1 and move closer to another world championship shot.
Also on the bill, Grigory Drozd shocked previously unbeaten European cruiserweight champion Mateusz Masternak in the eleventh round, whilst Rakhim Chakhkiev put himself in line for a possible shot at the Russian’s new title with a tenth round knockout of Giulian Ilie.