Povetkin, who was a standout amateur, attempts to end a decade-long winning streak held by dominant world number one Wladimir Klitschko on Saturday night in a money spinning $23million event at the Olympic Stadium in Moscow.
The powerful Russian, 34, has compiled a 26-0 record with 18 KO’s since turning pro – without making too many headlines, and gained his ‘champion’ status in the fallout to David Haye’s whimpering performance against Klitschko in 2011.
The 2004 Olympic gold medallist has spent just five rounds in the ring since a debatable majority win over WBO 200lb king Marco Huck in February 2012 after dealing with recent challengers Andrzej Wawrzyk and Hasim Rahman with unflappable ease. The worthiness of both those fighters has to be put into question though and Huck, along with former heavyweight title holder Ruslan Chagaev, remain the only two names of any note on Povetkin’s somewhat padded record.
I had the vastly out-weighed Huck winning 116-113 in Stuttgart when the pair met last year and despite talk of an immediate rematch, the two failed to agree – which is not surprising on the part of Povetkin judging by his opponents in the interim.
Now comes the acid test for Povetkin against Klitschko tonight and the daunting realism of who he is up against may well set in for the undefeated puncher as the fighters get their instructions from referee Luis Pabon.
In my view, Klitschko won’t be beaten until he loses his desire to lace up the gloves, although the death of trainer Emanuel Steward – along with a move into a Hollywood lifestyle in recent years could potentially be a hindrance to his usual stark focus.
I just cannot see it at this point in time and fully expect Klitschko to keep his range and pick off the four-inch smaller and stone-lighter Povetkin as he attempts to get inside and work the body of the Ukrainian to slow down his movement.
A stoppage for the all-conquering Klitschko is definitely on the cards for me, late in all probability, and in the process will free up a version of the world title for the next crop in line to pick the bones out of.