Alexander Povetkin (22-0, 15 KOs) is the new WBA Heavyweight Champion after clinching a unanimous points victory over Ruslan Chagaev (27-2-1, 17 KOs). The 2004 Olympic gold medal winner was ahead 117-113, 117-113 and 116-112 after twelve hard-fought rounds. “It was a very tough fight,” Povetkin said afterwards. “I am very happy that I won. This is for my father, who died last year and always wanted me to be world champion.”
Povetkin was off to the better start, dominating the early rounds when he used his quickness to land strong combinations. But Chagaev, the first man ever to defeat the Russian Giant Nikolai Valuev, turned it on in the fifth and sixth. He rocked his opponent with huge southpaw lefts. Teddy Atlas then said some inspirational words to Povetkin during the break.
“I told him that the feeling of exhaustion would not last forever, only for 18 minutes at most,” he stated. “I told him he was about to write history. He could become heavyweight champion of the world and win the title for his father.”
Povetkin survived the scare and fought back, hitting Chagaev with strong combinations. In the later rounds, he would regain control, cleverly firing in series of hooks and uppercuts.
“Povetkin was better and deserved to win,” Chagaev said. “I´m very disappointed. It was not my day.”
Povetkin´s promoter Kalle Sauerland praised the Russian warrior´s skills and will. “He really showed he wanted to win the title. He hung in there when things got rough in the sixth round. I am very happy for Alexander that all his hard work has finally paid off. He´s been an Olympic champion and now he has fulfilled his dream of becoming heavyweight champion as a professional.”
Among the 4,500 spectators in Erfurt, Germany was four-time heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield. The Real Deal liked what he saw. “It was a great fight,” he said. “Povetkin and Chagaev fought like middleweights, they were very fast and threw a lot of punches. Povetkin was better. He deserves to be world champion. It was a strong performance.”
In the co-featured main event, Robert Helenius (16-0, 11 KOs) continued his impressive rise to stardom with another KO victory over an ex-world champion. After knocking out Lamon Brewster and Sam Peter, the Nordic Nightmare stopped a battered Siarhei Liakhovich (25-4, 16 KOs) in the ninth round. It was an entertaining fight, with both men trading punches and landing clear shots. Helenius, 27, bruised his opponent´s face early and broke his nose in the second round but it was not before the eighth stanza that he exploded and knocked Liakhovich down with a powerful combination. The bell saved the White Wolf, but after 19 seconds of round 9 and another knock-down following a combination, the referee waved the fight off. “This is another big win for me,” Helenius said. “I started a little slowly but my coach Mr Wegner woke me up and then I did the right things. Liakhovich was very tough but I was the better man tonight and that´s why I won.”
Liakhovich gave Helenius, who defended his WBA/WBO Intercontinental Heavyweight Titles, credit: “He is very strong,” the White Wolf stated. “I don´t want to make any excuses or take anything away from him, but I broke my nose in the second round and had trouble to breathe. But he fought a great fight and deserved to win.”
Hall of Fame Promoter Wilfried Sauerland was full of praise for the hard-hitting Scandinavian. “That was another fantastic win,” he stated. “Robert has now knocked out three former world champions, which is amazing given his young age of just 27 years. His power is incredible and he has the potential to be world champion in the future. It was a great evening of heavyweight boxing.”