By Ryan Songalia
While it's clear that undefeated Russian heavyweight Alexander Povetkin is ready to define himself as a top contender, the road to a world title shot remains unclear.
According to the 31-year-old former 2004 Olympic super heavyweight gold medalist's trainer Teddy Atlas, Povetkin, 21-0 (15 KO), could possibly face former cruiserweight champion Jean-Marc Mormeck, 36-4 (22 KO), of France for the vacant WBA "Regular" heavyweight championship in June.
This is all contingent on current WBA titlist David Haye, who is expected to be elevated to "Super" champion status should he face acknowledged champ Wladimir Klitschko in July as is being discussed.
"I think we are ranked number two and Mormeck was the next available contender," said Atlas in a telephone conversation Saturday morning. "Obviously if we have the title, we can defend it and look to unify it with Haye, and eventually one of the Klitschkos."
Atlas added that the fight Mormeck clash would either be in the first or second week of June and would take place in Germany.
Chris Meyer, the CEO of Povetkin's Germany-based promoter Sauerland Event, said that Atlas is jumping the gun a little, and that while Mormeck is on top of their "shortlist of opponents for the June bout," no contract has been signed as of yet.
"Looking at the current ratings, 'Sascha' is rated number 2, so he has good chances to become nominated and the co-challenger will not necessarily be Jean-Marc Mormeck as his current position is at number 7 or so."
This isn't the first time Atlas and Meyer have been in disagreement. Last year, Povetkin withdrew from a title match with Wladimir Klitschko. Meyer told Per Ake Persson that Povetkin wasn't right mentally after the passing of his father last April, while Atlas simply felt Povetkin wasn't ready for that fight.
"I pulled him out of a fight with Klitschko back in September," said Atlas. "I thought at the end of the day, the ending wouldn't be good. I told [Povetkin's handlers] another thing will open up in boxing if you do the right thing.
"We were gonna fight David Haye, which I think is a little different and a little easier because of the physicality, but now Haye is hesitating to fight us so we'll probably fight Mormeck for the world title."
Atlas, who trained Michael Moorer to a heavyweight championship in 1994, likes the Mormeck matchup, as the 6'2" Povetkin is considered to be a small heavyweight in an era of 6'7" monsters. Mormeck, who turns 39 in June, stands a hair under 6'0".
"He's a very experienced guy, physically strong and can bang pretty good," said Atlas. "He's a little slow with his feet and right in front of you, but he's experienced. He doesn't just walk in the front door, he'll change it up on you but for the most part you know where he is.
"He's a physically strong guy, but he's a natural cruiserweight. We won't be dealing with the physical dimensions that we might deal with with a Klitschko. He knows how to be a champion and I think if you fight for the world title, you have to deal with some risks. I think we'll be prepared for those risks."
Mormeck is unbeaten in three heavyweight fights since losing the cruiserweight championship to Haye in 2007, but none of the wins have come by knockout.
Atlas Foundation Hosting Golden Gloves Event on 3/16 in Staten Island
Atlas' Dr. Theodore A. Atlas Foundation will be hosting a Daily News Golden Gloves quarter-finals event on Wednesday, March 16 at Petrides High School in Staten Island. All proceeds will benefit the non-profit organization. Call 718-980-7037
Ryan Songalia is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and contributes to GMANews.TV and the Filipino Reporter newspaper. From January through April, he will cover the Daily News Golden Gloves tournament for the New York Daily News. He can be reached at [email protected] . An archive of his work can be found at www.ryansongalia.com . Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ryansongalia .