By Luke Furman
According to veteran trainer Fiodor Lapin, Olympic gold medal winner Alexander Povetkin has lost some of his accuracy and punching power and is not in the same physical former that he was - prior to the suspension related to drug test failures.
After losing a twelve round decision to Wladimir Klitschko in 2013, Povetkin (33-1, 23 KOs) returned with a fury - by scoring some brutal knockouts in his next five fights.
But then he was hit with a whirlwind of drug test failures in 2016. He tested positive for meldonium and ostarin in two separate tests - causing planned fights with WBC champion Deontay Wilder (in May 2016) and Bermane Stiverne (in December 2016) to get canceled.
As a result of those incidents, Povetkin was suspended by the WBC, but he recently paid a huge fine and his career is now back on track.
Since the drug test failures, the former WBA champion has picked up two victories in 2017, but they were far from impressive.
Two weeks ago in Yekaterinburg, won a twelve round unanimous decision over Christian Hammer in a world title final eliminator under the WBA and WBO. It now makes Povetkin the mandatory challenger to both world titles.
That win followed another twelve round decision win, this time over Ukrainian Andrei Rudenko, which took place in July in Moscow.
Povetkin never seemed to hurt either opponent in the two fights and simply outboxed them over the distance in bouts that lacked fireworks.
"Until recently, I would have said that Povetkin was the favorite in potential fights against both Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder. Povetkin would have been the favorite, but after those situations and the two fights that he had - that's another Povetkin. He used to get in earlier [with big punches], and his opponents went down, but now they do not go down, so now he is not in the form that was before the suspension," Lapin said to Vasily Konov.
"It's clear that there was no fight to be fought [in his last outing], but Hammer's level can not even be compared closely with these fighters [at the top]. Yes, Povetkin unquestionably won against Hammer, but he lost the force in his punches and lacked accuracy."
Luke Furman covers boxing for bokser.org