By Alexey Sukachev
While gambling and boxing don’t have much in common, gambling and pugilistic prophecy do share a number of similar features. Picking a winner is often a chance more than an art, and an art rather than a skill. Even when the favorite is clearly set, there’s always a chance for the upset to occur. It’s twice as true for the big men of boxing, who possess enough dynamite to make a tropical storm out of a drought.
It’s said that some sort of courage is needed, when choosing a winner publicly or (even) predicting the flow of the fight. Well, rotten tomatoes are within the reach, so everyone has a chance to execute them accordingly – and those willing will surely be found. With two days left before the biggest heavyweight clash in recent years a nice option presents itself to test will and knowledge of local experts – both from Russia and Ukraine.
Three questions have been put for a board of 15 experts from the both countries and even some lands abroad. One of them was deeply personal – “Whom will you support come October 5?” – and, as a matter of fact, it can hardly be interesting for the boxing fans outside of the former USSR. No answers to that are presented here. Still there are two questions that have been addressed by the panel, which will remain very valid and interesting right up to the start:
• What Alexander Povetkin should do in the ring to defeat Wladimir Klitschko?
• What will be the result of the fight?
And here are the opinions:
Andrey Bazdrev (Russia, “Fight Club” TV producer):
1. The right tactics is to start quickly, the first step in to approach; then – high tempo in the starting rounds and mixed, broken tempo after that. But what is more important – he must really want to “take all his money and all his whores”.
2. Povetkin by decision. That’ll be a broken and a very strange fight, much more tempered at the starters, then tactical and extremely cautious at the end, where Povetkin will have a very narrow edge and win a close decision on the scorecards.
Alexander Belenkiy (Russia, “Sport-Express” columnist):
1-2. Klitschko – TKO 8. There are several possibilities but I’ll concentrate on the most probable of them. Prediction in favour of the Klitschko is considered by many to be almost a high treason. Personally, I think that the high treason will occur somewhere around the eighth stanza.
Povetkin will find out as soon as in the first round that all his homework and gym exercises don’t help much. Sparring partners will be found totally different to Wladimir. They will be found to be too slow, too weak and too clumsy, and their technique will appear to be much too faded in comparison with that of the Ukrainian champion.
However, Povetkin is a courageous man, and he will try to resolve this negative equation right in the ring. It’s obvious his only chance is to win by a kayo, and he will pursue it. Povetkin will try either a jumpy left hook or a right cross, which he will surely attempt to hide behind series of weaker punches. Bodysnatching can be in mixture too for Wladimir to drop Alexander’s hands.
It’s hard to believe that Klitschko will not disguise Povetkin, as his approach is too manifest. At first, WK will maneuver, landing punches only when the scene will be set. His jab will be a pure nightmare for Povetkin. It will cause Alexander to lose his concentration. Round-by-round the punishment will be getting more and more damaging and the eighth round will see the fight being stopped. It won’t be a clear knockout but rather a towel, waving off, or the referee criss-crossing his arms, saving the Russian from further punishment.
Igor Vit’ko (Ukraine, vRINGE.com chief editor):
1. Everyone knows how to defeat the Klitschko. Up to the moment only a few chosen were able to get this job done. However, nobody is unbeatable, and Wladimir is no exception. Povetkin’s chance is in the middle quarters, and neither inside, nor outside. More Povetkin will work at the middle range; the higher is his chance for the monumental upset. To do so he should overcome the jab of Wladimir but he shouldn’t get to close, or Klitschko will hang all of his pounds down on Povetkin. So the key to the victory is fast jumps in to the middle range, then quick two-three punch combinations, immediate ducking to the side with a subsequent attack right after that.
2. Klitschko – KO/TKO 9. I feel the main obstacle for Alexander (as well as for other K2 opponents) will be Wladimir’s hard jab. The Russian will have some success in the starting stanzas, when he is fresh and willing. It will force Wladimir to take less and less chances, boxing more clinically. Povetkin will slow down around the fourth round, and from that point on the fight will almost like all other fights of the Ukrainian champion. His dominance will be getting more and more evident with each passing round. Finally, a badly beaten challenger will fall down around the ninth stanza.
Anton Gorunov (Ukraine, vRINGE.com co-chief editor):
1. Keys to the victory can be seen with an unarmed eye. He should avoid a fateful jab of Wladimir at all costs, going through it to the middle distance by hook or by crook, and then unloading with series of hard but brisk blows before leaving the danger zone for good. The younger Klitschko clearly dislikes being continuously pressed, and Povetkin should use it, overcoming tremendous pain and the bloody haze from the Wladimir’s punches. Alexander has a tremendous arsenal, and his technique is fine, but, bearing in mind Wladimir’s physical advantage, Povetkin will be unable to outbox him. His only chance is to break the Ukrainian down. We shall see if he can or not.
2. Klitschko – by decision. If Povetkin doesn’t wait for his honorable end at a long range and overcomes Klitschko’s hard jabs to get in, the fight will be much more thrilling than anyone thinks. And I lean towards this not-so-evident scenario for Povetkin clearly understands the biggest chance of his life. In this case, Klitschko will become severely cautious, drying the action, popping his jab all the time and moving laterally. At the end his ultimate experience will get the job done. But only if Povetkin doesn’t land one of his Hail Mary headshots. And, Man, he can!
Vadim Zhuk (Ukraine, Championat.com boxing columnist):
1. Povetkin should press the action all the time. Only constant pressure and volume punching will give him a chance. Looking for one finishing touch or, oppositely, trying to outbox Klitschko at the distance will be a terribly wrong decision for Alexander.
2. The fight will be tense and thrilling, and the best man will win.
Andrey Ivantsov (Russia, Sports.ru boxing editor):
1. I will name the only but the most important key – staying cool. As soon as Povetkin experiences problems in the ring like it was a case in the Huck fight, he gets negatively nervous. It looks like [sweet tea] boils up in his head in a wild mixture of tactics and strategy, peppered by his erratic conditioning.
If he is able to pick himself up after eating the first 10 or 15 jabs from Wladimir and if he stays cool enough to remain focused and not to forget that there’s Plan B, aside of the Plan A, and maybe even Plan C – then I’ll consider this his first true win. Maybe it will be enough even to grant him with an overall victory.
2. Klitschko – by unanimous decision. Wladimir will retain a comfortable distance and land his jabs and one-twos at will, remaining focused enough not to get hit and cautious enough to allow Povetkin to last the distance.
Inna Lagun (Germany, freelance contributor):
1. He should be sighted, liquid, and sensitive. Povetkin should think in the ring, being smart and focused, but he must also preserve his stamina. He needs to avoid Wladimir’s jabs, crouch down and then fire and land vicious uppercuts right to the jaw. He shouldn’t move excessively with his upper body. All in all, all of that wouldn’t save him.
2. Klitschko TKO 8 Povetkin. Wladimir is cautious and defensive-minded in the first couple of rounds. Povetkin is active but his punches don’t land cleanly – the crowd, however, eagerly applauds every successful move of their hero. In the third and in the fourth stanzas, Klitschko finds his range. Alexander eats a couple of crosses, his face starts reddening. Zimin asks him in the corner not to let it all out. The fifth and the sixth stanzas: Povetkin drives inside, while Wladimir plays octopus. Alexander is weary, breathes hard with his mouth. After a sliding right hand to the whiskers Povetkin goes down. “And down he goes!” © . His corner is panicking. Fans are using foul language while local celebrities are stunned in disbelief. Putin is pictured with a stone mask on his face. The seventh round is fully under the superchampion’s control: the regular one shows character and marches forward only to eat more leather bombs. His face is swollen and bleeds heavily, eyes are swollen shut too. The doctor allows him to continue, and he continues to eat more. Several more blows right to the shut eye, a couple of droplets, and the referee waves it off.
Vladimir Lozinskiy (Box-Club.ru editor):
1. Klitschko is more than a heavy favorite. Taking into account a colossal difference in size and stature, as well as a stylistic advantage for the champion, Povetkin has no chance whatsoever to get a decision here. The only variant for the Russian is to win by a knockout. To catch the Klitschko from the long distance is unrealistic, so Povetkin should seek his chances either at the middle range or in close quarters. And at the middle range the younger Klitschko is a rare guest; he either goes outside or clinches well, using his weight and size to weaken his opponent. Povetkin’s chance is here: he should use sharp, powerful punches on his way in and out of the clinch. He has such a punch in his arsenal.
2. Klitschko – by decision. The fight will be dull and boring, very much alike Wladimir’s stinkers with David Haye or Sultan Ibragimov. Both opponents cannot afford to lose for the reasons of “fraternal friendship”, which is getting more and more heated with each passing day. To lose by a knockout or to be decisioned is a major difference. Klitschko will get the win, and Povetkin will hear the final bell standing, which isn’t bad too.
That’s the most probable scenario. Another one is a late KO for the Klitschko. The third and by far the most fantastic is a quick kayo by Povetkin in the beginning of the fight.
Dmitry Mikhalchuk (Ukraine, Boxnews.com.ua chief editor):
1. It’s easy to give tons of advice, and it’s almost improbable to realize them against a fighter, who has every advantage in the book over you, except for the home turf and, maybe, punch resistance. Truth be told, Povetkin is a very good boxer, who clearly belongs to the top 5 of the heavyweight division. And if he had been developed the other way, “Vityaz” would have got a chance to give huge problems to the champion, maybe even to defeat him.
Of course, Povetkin isn’t able to outfence Wladimir at the long range. Surely he won’t catch the Ukrainian with one helluva punch, because: a). The Klitschko will not allow him to home in; and b). The Russian isn’t a one-punch kayo artist. So the only chance exists, and that is to break through to the basement, increase the tempo and to overpress Wladimir to a stoppage. Chances are scarce for that but, at least, they exist if Povetkin is blessed with tremendous workrate, endurance and stamina (which is all can be upgraded during the training camp), and an ability to take those murderous punches in process of executing his own tactics. How does he endure heavy fire is a mystery. On the side not, however, such an aggressive stalker as Povetkin, who has never been stopped during his amateur or pro career, cannot be china-chinned. And more tips are in place:
• To rely on his left hook , not his right hand;
• To increase the tempo up to the limit and to start the action himself;
• To answer every move, every successful activity by the champion;
• Being hung in clinches to work as dirty as he can, using rabbit and kidney punches, shoving in with his ankles etc.
2. Klitschko by KO in the first half – from the 4th till the 6th stanzas. That doesn’t mean this fight will be as easy as Wladimit’s bout against Francesco Pianeta, Mariusz Wach, Hasim Rahman or Ruslan Chagaev, who were able to last longer.
The Ukrainian is strongly advised not to let the judges do their job – with a mind-boggling funds, invested into this fight by the local tycoons, chances are high that scores will not reflect the actual outcome of the bout.
Alexey Potapov (Ukraine, columnist and promoter for King Ring Promotions):
1. Povetkin should box like Mike Tyson. Am I kidding? No, I am not. Only if he utilizes the same style of fighting, Alexander will have a chance. Break the distance and terrorize the champion here! He shouldn’t allow him to think, not even to breath with constant all around pressure. And he should throw as many punches as he can. Will he able to do that? That’s another question.
It’s useless to box with the Klitschko, specifically for Povetkin. Wladimir, just like Floyd Mayweather or Andre Ward, can hardly be outboxed by anyone. Even much more masterful tried to give fits to the champion. He fell short. The only Alexander’s chance is to win by an early kayo. Wladimir is a slow starter. He need some time to feel the opponent out. With every other round, the Klitschko’s advantage in boxing intelligence, technique, timing and velocity will be more and more evident.
2. Klitschko – either by a unanimous decision or by a late kayo. I’m afraid we shall see another of peerless performances by a brilliant champion, named Dr. Steelhammer. A slow start, jab-jab-jab and again, and one more time; then a one-two combo and a step back. If Alexander stays in front of the Ukrainian, the fight will be all over at this point of the contest. Unfortunately, I cannot see any intrigue in this match. If Wladimir is in shape (and he is), nothing will prevent him from getting another solid win. Of course, it’s the heavyweight class, and only one punch can change everything and blah-blah-blah… I’ll repeat: nothing will prevent Wladimir from winning. His class is much better than any order.
Manny Steward made a universal soldier out of the Klitschko. You can say what you want about “loser coach” Jhonathon Banks. Wladimir is so good that he can be trained #here&now even by me, and he won’t get any worse.
Yuri Tarantin (Russia, Allboxing.ru chief editor):
1. The worst choice is an attempt to outbox, to outsmart the champion. I doubt Alexander will try anything like that. He should neutralize the jab of Wladimir, to shorten the distance and to land as many punches as he can. Klitschko is being tagged so rarely because he preserves his comfortable distance. So the key to the victory is simple (on paper), and that is to deprive Wladimir of an extra space and to pressurize him as much as you can.
2. Can Alexander walk through Wladimir’s killer jab and to tag him at the middle range? If he can, we will be blessed with a very exciting and close fight. If not – Povetkin will slowly be beaten down into submission – mercilessly… and methodically. I guess Alexander will risk much, and it will give him extra chances. Wladimir is a clear favorite, but I’m sure Povetkin is capable of a stunning surprise for everyone.
Alexey Uralets (Russia, Allboxing.ru own correspondent):
1. Alexander needs a knockout – that is his primary key to the victory.
2. Klitschko will retain his belt. In the worst (for Povetkin) scenario it’ll be very much like Ibragimov fight. In the best – he will follow the path of late Corrie Sanders. And the most probable case is a close decision for the Ukrainian or a draw.
Alexander Fedyaev (Russia, BoxRec.com Russian editor):
1. In theory, Povetkin should go at his most convenient distance to do his job there. Practically, that’s almost impossible due to a striking gap in size as well as much extra weight on the Russian. Not looking at the dark corners of prizefighting, I see no chances for Povetkin to win this fight inside the ring.
2. Klitschko – by TKO in the middle rounds, thanks to his multiple stinging jabs.
Oleg Chikiris (Russia, “Soviet Sport” sportive games editor):
1. To earn more points than Wladimir is the key (smiles). Speaking seriously, Povetkin shouldn’t play Wladimir’s game. Alexander must amaze the Ukrainian, staying active, pressuring the champion all the time from the very starting second of the fight.
2. Klitschko – by KO/TKO in the last third of the contest. The most possible scenario in my mind: Povetkin will be far behind on points, and will go desperately looking to knock Klitschko out in the closing stages of the fight. It’s where he will be chopped down. The second variant is by far less probable. In this case Alexander will land something nuclear to knock Wladimir out in the starting rounds and to become the latest incarnation of Corrie Sanders.
Klitschko – KO/TKO: 6.5 (Belenkiy, Vit’ko, Lagun, Mikhalchuk, Fedyaev, Chikiris – 1; Potapov – 0.5);
Klitschko – on points: 4 (Gorunov, Ivantsov, Lozinskiy – 1; Potapov and Uralets – 0.5);
Draw – 0.5 (Uralets)
Povetkin – on points: 1 (Bazdrev)
No choice: 2 (Zhuk and Tarantin)
Follow the Russian version of the voting at Sports.ru (including more insights and a well-written piece by Dmitry Mikhalchuk on the state of the fight in and out of the ring).