By Alexey Sukachev
Erfurt, Germany - Olympic champion Alexander Povetkin (22-0, 15 KOs) has finally achieved his dream. The WBA's #2 ranked heavyweight is now the second active Russian fighter (after Dmitry Pirog) to hold a piece of a world championship following a spirited, yet a close win over former world champion and WBA #1 Ruslan Chagaev (27-2-1, 17 KOs) in a two-way, all-action contest.
The fight was following Povetkin's path for the first few rounds - thanks to his speed and overall agility, as well as his fast combinations and use of his left uppercut. But in the sixth, Chagaev landed several huge left hand bombs to shake Povetkin up. Chagaev showed grit and determination to give Povetkin trouble in the next couple of rounds.
However, in the ninth round Alexander started to deliver more and more punches with the same hard power. His increased output brought the entire fight under his control. Rounds ten and eleven were also in favor of the Russian, 32, while the Uzbek fighter, also 32, was becoming more and more fatigued with each passing minute.
In the final round Chagaev violently came forward, but Povetkin wisely avoided wild exchanges to end the fight in his favor.
The score of 117-113 came down on two cards (Jean-Francois Toupin and Paul Thomas) and 116-112 (Glenn Feldman) on the third - giving Alexander Povetkin the WBA's vacant "regular" heavyweight title. BoxingScene had it scored identically, 117-113, for the Russian boxer. The referee was Hubert Earle.
In a heated rematch of their first encounter, which ended in a draw, Frenchman Tony Averlant (16-5-2, 4 KOs) acquired the vacant EBU-EU light heavyweight title after a convincing stoppage of his bitter rival Artur Hein (14-2-1, 8 KOs) in the eighth round.
This particular contest was rather close (as it was the case in their first meeting), and Hein made a nice effort in the beginning, landing cleaner and more telling punches on Averlant's face. The Frenchman got the better of it in the second and took the third. In the fourth and in the fifth rounds, USSR-born Hein turned back the tide but maintaining his composure and by utilizing a nice uppercut to trouble Averlant time and again. The sixth and the seventh stanzas were also primarily in Hein's favour.
However, as the bout progressed, Averlant preserved his stamina, while Hein got more and more fatigued with each fought minute of the contest. Averlant started to deliver punches in the eighth and continued to outpunch Hein in the ninth and in the tenth. In the eleventh, Averlant mounted a non-stop barrage of punches and continued to hit almost defenseless Hein until 2:01, when referee Guiseppe Quartarone finally waved the fight off simultaneously with a flying towel. A major setback for local favorite, whose future seems very uncertain after this loss.
IBF #13 middleweight Dominik Britsch (25-0, 9 KOs) was less spectacular than usual against comebacking Brit Steven Bendall (29-6, 14 KOs) but was able to outland and to outbox the grizzled veteran en route to an eight-round unanimous decision.
Britsch, 24, looked non-surprisingly fatigued as it was his fifth bout this year and just about a month and a half removed from his previous outing. Britsch tried to be an aggressor nevertheless and he often landed big overhand rights to trouble his opponent. 37-year old Bendall was coming back after two and a half years from his last battle. The Brit looked fit to trade punches with Britsh but was too slow to gain any momentum, although he created a huge gash under Dominik's left eye in the second round. In round four, Bendall was deducted a point by referee Josef Temml for pushing his opponent. Both boxers engaged into two-way action later in the fight, and Britsch was just a notch better.
After eight rounds, all three judges had it unanimously for Britsch: 77-74 and 78-73 (twice), while BoxingScene had it wider at 80-71.
Austrian middleweight talent Marcos Nader (12-0, 2 KOs) is known mostly for his weak punches, combined with a sound technique and amateur pedigree. This mixture makes up for lengthy and rather dull boxing affairs, and that was exactly the case for his "battle" with Italian veteran Gianmario Grasselini (19-5-2, 10 KOs). The only difference was that Nader, 21, was able to score his second career stoppage at 0:01 of the eighth, when referee Ingo Barrabas, on the advice of both the Italian's corner and the ringside physician, waved the fight off.
Nader was the better man throughout all of the previous rounds. he landed vicious right uppercuts and left hooks, and popped Grasselini's face with a potent jab. Rounds four and five were especially hard for the Italian; yet the lack of punching power prevented Nader from scoring any knockdowns whatsoever. Otherwise, it was a tactical contest with very little to celebrate. BoxingScene had it 70-62 - before the stoppage.
22-year old German cruiserweight David Graf moved up to 4 KOs in the same number of fights with an easy first-round blowout of Hungarian Victor Szalai (16-36-4, 4 KOs). The ethnic Armenian, also known as Vakhtang Saakian, put Szalai down twice before the contest was waved off at 1;31 of the opening stanza.
In the opening contest of the night, little-known German cruiserweight journeyman Christian Schwaeblein (4-5, 2 KOs) improved his mediocre record, when Georgia-based Armenian Armen Azizian (now 9-14, 1 KO) was forced to retire at 1:27 of the fourth round citing an injured ankle. Azizian is just 1-13 in his last fights.