By Alexey Sukachev / Photos: Andrey Bazdrev (PBFR)
On Monday, a specifically designated presser was held at the VGTRK media centre in Moscow, Russia. Local reporters, some fans and team members greeted the newly crowned WBA (“regular”) champion of the world, Alexander Povetkin (22-0, 15 KOs), who celebrated his homecoming by addressing some words to attendance alongside his influential manager Vladimir Hryunov, cruiserweight star Denis Lebedev and Igor Mazurov from the Professional Boxing Federation of Russia.
Povetkin cruised to a hard-fought but well-deserved unanimous decision over Ruslan Chagaev (27-2-1, 17 KOs) a week ago in Germany. Here are the most important excerpts:
Povetkin, who turned 32 on September 2: “Thanks to everybody in attendance for their sincerest support throughout every stage of my training camp and during the fight as well.
I’m feeling okay. I don’t have any specific emotions after my win over Chagaev; I’m not enjoying something truly exceptional, any unearthly feelings. I have gained a lot experience as it was one of the most important fights in my life. In the future, this victory will give me an enormous boost for future achievements”.
Hryunov: “I want to thank Ruslan Chagaev for his politeness and his proper behavior. It was a hard fight and we were pushed to slug it to the limit and to worry all night long as we were very nervous about the fight. This contest was coined 'The meeting of two civilized champions' by the German press, and this is a correct comparison. We were also praised in Russia. The first to greet us was Russian premier Vladimir Putin…
… Our German promoter Sauerland Event has already started an attentive scope of Alexander’s future opponents. We are looking forward to make the first defense of the title on December 17. There are several possibilities: we can fight in Germany, in Switzerland and also in Moscow, Russia. We are carefully weighing all of our options, and we are looking at all of the fighters in the WBA rankings. As of now, no opponent is set for sure. We still don’t know who Alexander will fight next.”
Igor Mazurov: “Alexander has successfully accomplished a great deal by becoming the champion of the world. It’s a fascinating achievement, made by Sasha for himself, for his team and for entire prizefighting scene in Russia. But I want to underline specifically a major role played by his team. There were many contenders, even champions, who have come and gone without making any noise. Team Povetkin, his handlers have made an enormous effort to make Alexander a champion, to help him become a champion in such a dirty and vicious pool as the heavyweight division is today. We wish them all the luck in the future as well”.
Denis Lebedev: “I’m very delighted because of the Sasha’s victory. I’m very glad for him, and now I have a prime example of who I shall be looking at, who I shall follow. Povetkin is a wonderful example of a real pugilist. I congratulate Sasha and all of his family”.
After the formal part reporters addressed the champion and his team some questions.
Question #1: “What is about the negotiations with the Klitschko brothers? Are they going to happen at this moment of Alexander’s career?”
Hryunov: "We are surely aiming at the Klitschko brothers. Moreover, it’s what we are fighting for; that’s why we are competing. But we see it in a distant future, not now. According to the WBA Rules, Alexander has 12 months to make voluntary defenses of his title before meeting with a still-to-be-defined mandatory. Wladimir Klitschko, as a “Super” champion has 18 months to accomplish his duties. The reason, why you have asked this question, is totally different. We are looking forward to see this fight. It’s just like Mayweather versus Pacquiao. It should be done and it will be done… But now we need to fight often and to gain some much needed experience. We were forced to sit and wait for a long, long time. It’s time to fight, fight and fight from now on”.
Question #2: “If Povetkin had been fighting the Klitschkos, not Chagaev, would his physical shape and his overall shape been enough to defeat the best heavyweights in the world”?
Hryunov: “It would have been a hard and interesting fight, and we would have been in the best shape possible. But I want to speak about Ruslan Chagaev and our victory as it was a great feat. Ruslan gave us a fascinating rebuff, and it was big struggle to defeat him”.
Question #3: “Teddy Atlas, Povetkin’s head coach, worried very much before the fight took place. He said, among some other statements, that preparations weren’t very lengthy for a fight of such caliber. But still he was very delighted at the end of the day. How can you comment this”?
Hryunov: “We want to thank Teddy for his tremendous attraction to Alexander, for his emotions and his work ethics. He worried so much beforehand, and he gave his best to prepare Alexander and to make sure he was in tip-top shape. He is a true professional. Teddy Atlas brought a cultural impact, and true heart to our training camp”.
Question #4: “Alexander, what was the most memorable fight in your life?”
Povetkin: “You know… I remember my victory in Bangkok, a win over that Cuban guy (Povetkin defeated Pedro Carrion 29-27 in the final of 2003 world championship) – now that was a Victory. It was the most memorable feat in my life because to become the first ever Russian super heavyweight Olympic champion [and] in fact I didn’t need to fight (Povetkin won the gold medal on a withdrawal of his opponent).
Question #5: “Vladimir, Evander Holyfield, who is almost fifty years of age, is rumored as Povetkin’s opponent for the first title defense. Do you think it will be nice step up to prepare Alexander for the Klitschko brothers”?
Hryunov: “I spent an entire evening before Alexander’s fight with the ring legend. The next day Evander went to the gym and trained for almost three hours. He is that tough. And he is ready. I watched him and I know what I’m talking about. He is still capable of giving everyone a stern test. He is ready to go everywhere, he defeated [Brian] Nielsen in Denmark, and he was ready to go as far as to South Africa to give a rematch to Francois Botha. Holyfied is such a respected figure and one shouldn’t talk about Holyfield as just being an oldy”.
Povetkin: “I’m ready to fight everyone. I don’t worry at all about my next opponent. I just don’t pay any attention to that. I just need to come inside the ropes and to win a fight. I’ll battle against whoever my promoters will put in front of me… But Holyfield is one you should fight to get more experience. He is a great fighter and I can learn much from him, which could be interesting for me”.
Hryunov: “I’ll tell you more. We have another legend coming to us. This early morning we have been informed about a verbal assault that was made by the multi-time champion of the world James Toney, who promised to enter Russia and to first beat Denis Lebedev and then Alexander Povetkin, like dogs. The language was so explicit that we just couldn’t do anything but to accept this challenge. I’m currently waiting for a call from Toney’s handlers. He is ready to come in Russia and to fight Lebedev. James Toney is 97 kilograms now, he is ready to make a cruiserweight limit. So a tune-up for November 5 at Khodynka Palace of sports, as James Toney is going to have his lights out”.
Question #6: “Did Chagaev surprise you with anything?”
Povetkin: “I saw many of his tapes and I was positively surprised, how in shape he really was. He was in great shape for the fight; he was fresh and ready to fight to the end. As for his unorthodox stance, it wasn’t a problem for me”.
Question #7: “Will David Haye be considered a possible opponent for Sasha?”
Hryunov: “Haye will surely be considered, as he is ranked #2 by the World Boxing Association”.
Question #8: “How will you rate your performance in Chagaev fight?”
Povetkin: A- or B+ at the best.
Question #9: “Will you give Chagaev a rematch if he wants”?
Povetkin: “I’m ready to do that”.
Question #10: “Many fans and non-fans alike aren’t very pleased with you, your team and your actions. The RuNet is full of profanities and curses addressed to you. What can you say to your ill-wishers?”
Povetkin: “Chekhov, Moscow Region, Russia. They can come to me one-by-one and address those words to me personally (smiles)… I really don’t pay much attention to these verbal assaults. Those guys are losers, nothing to pay attention to”.
Question #11: “What do you think of James Toney – as a sportsman and as a man”?
Lebedev: “I think he is a legendary fighter. I don’t pay any attention to his words but it would be interesting for me to fight and defeat him”.
Question #12: “What is about a rematch with Marko Huck”?
Hryunov: “We were ready to take it but Sauerland Event was unable to present us an offer till the deadline, which was the last Friday night. We were also thinking about Antonio Tarver for Denis, and there were even some starting negotiations… But then James Toney came in the picture, which, figuratively speaking, was quite a jam. Now we are looking carefully to James “Lights Out” Toney as our future opponent.