By Alexey Sukachev
Kazan, Russia - With WBC champion Deontay Wilder on his mind, the number one heavyweight contender Alexander Povetkin sent him a clear message and a stark warning with his twelfth-round TKO over extremely durable Polish contender Mariusz Wach.
The fight was stopped on cuts but Povetkin's performance was almost flawless against a limited fighter. Wach has never been stopped, not even by heavyweight king Wladimir Klitschko - and the Russian fighter became the first one to achieve this feat.
Officially, the fight was another defense of the WBC Silver heavyweight title owned by Povetkin, 36. It's true meaning, however, was a bit different. It was both a stay-busy fight and a chance to tune-up certain things against a much bigger fighter, remotely resembling the reigning undefeated WBC heavyweight champion.
It can also be argued that Wach was better than both Eric Molina and Johann Duhapas, two fighters Wilder made his voluntary defenses against, which will further strengthen Team Povetkin's position in difficult negotiations between them and Wilder's representatives even despite the fact that Wilder was allowed another optional defense for January 16.
WBC #11 and IBF #13 Wach, tall at 6'8, was considerably bigger than 2004 Olympic super heavyweight gold medalist. But this advantage was outweighed by the linked disadvantages: the Pole was considerably slower and quite limited. In fact, almost every round was identical, with the only difference being Povetkin's offensive approach, as he changed his focus back-and-forth between Wach's head and his body.
WBC/TBRB #1 Povetkin used every punch in his vast arsenal (not excluding uppercuts) to trouble the Polish fighter but the latter was simply too durable and took every punch easily. Wach rarely attacked Povetkin, and his offensive was as scarce as it was poor.
Povetkin's only major achievement was a pair of cuts - one on the bridge of Wach's nose and a gash below his left eye. Povetkin was slightly cut too (over his left eye) but the brilliant work of the best Russian (and maybe European) cutman Dmitry Luchnikov saved the day. Wach's cuts, on the other hand, were getting worse.
Finally in the last round, the fight was stopped by referee Jay Nady after consulting with the ringside physician. Wach looked like a beaten fighter at the time of stoppage.
Official scores were: 40-36, 39-37, and 39-37 - after four rounds, and 79-73 (x3) - after the eighth round. BoxingScene had it 110-99 for Povetkin at the time of stoppage. The Russian is now 30-1, 22 KOs. Wach, 35, drops down to 31-2, 17 KOs.