by David P. Greisman
Eddie Mustafa Muhammad watched with interest as Alexander Povetkin barely survived a highly controversial split decision win in February over Marco Huck — Muhammad trains Hasim Rahman, whose No. 1 ranking with the World Boxing Association gives him a mandatory shot at the winner.
Muhammad recently spoke with BoxingScene.com about what he saw during Povetkin-Huck and what that means for Rahman.
BoxingScene.com: What did you think of the recent fight between Alexander Povetkin and Marco Huck? What did you see, or not see, out of Povetkin?
Muhammad: “Povetkin gets hit with right hands. Huck was hitting him with jabs and right hands, and then he [Povetkin] ran out of gas going down the stretch. I’m not sure he took the guy lightly, because I don’t think he did. I think you saw the best that he had to offer. I just think that Huck rose to the occasion, and I thought Huck beat him, but the scoring was real crazy.
“I tell everybody: This is a business. I just think that Povetkin sells more tickets than Huck. They’re promoted by the same promoter, but that’s just how it is. Povetkin is a gold medalist, a great amateur career. Huck was a great cruiserweight, but I thought Huck beat him. Everybody thought Huck beat him.”
BoxingScene.com: Does it work out better for Hasim that he’ll be facing Povetkin as opposed to Huck, or does it not really make a difference?
Muhammad: “It’s really no difference. But like I said, Povetkin is there to be hit. He’s there to be hit. That’s the whole key to that situation. He’s not a classic slick boxer that’s going to move his head. He’s not going to do that. He’s there to be hit with jabs and hooks and right hands. We just got to be in peak condition. That’s all I’m worried about.”
BoxingScene.com: I know it’s way too soon for anything to be signed, but when would you hope to have Hasim in the ring with Povetkin?
Muhammad: “Probably June. He [Povetkin] took a beating in that last fight. He took a beating where he turned his back on the kid, and at one point he was worn down, he got hit with a fusillade of punches on about three occasions.
“And then we have to worry about the officiating, even the referees. That referee did a crazy job — I don’t know what the hell he was thinking. He wouldn’t let them fight. And then on a few occasions when he let them fight, that’s when Huck scored with the big right hands, jabs, hooks, and then all of a sudden he jumps in and stops the action. That’s a classic case of favoritism.”
BoxingScene.com: You mentioned getting Hasim in peak condition. What weight would you like to see him at for a fight with Povetkin?
Muhammad: “At least around 235, 240. One thing that doesn’t diminish is his punch. He can still crack.”
BoxingScene.com: And what is he walking around at right now (Feb. 28)?
Muhammad: “Right now he’s about 255 … He’s going to be up for the challenge. I’m not worried about that. He’ll be up for the challenge.”
BoxingScene.com: It sounds like you believe Povetkin is a ready-made opponent for Rahman.
Muhammad: “He doesn’t move his head. I mean, he has fast hands. He’s good for the first four rounds, and then he dies out. We have a situation where we’re going to make him fight, and we’re going to make him expend energy early. He’s not going to be able to stand toe to toe with us.”
David P. Greisman is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow David on Twitter at twitter.com/fightingwords2 or on Facebook at facebook.com/fightingwordsboxing, or send questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org