Saturday on EPIX , Alexander Povetkin will risk his WBA "regular" heavyweight title against longtime WBO cruiserweight belt-holder Marco Huck (pronounced "hook") in their mutual home base of Germany. Will Huck join Evander Holyfield and David Haye as the only cruiserweight champions to capture a belt at heavyweight or will Povetkin dish out corporal punishment to "Kapt'n" Huck? Povetkin is a 3 ½-1 favorite. Their CompuBox histories offer the following points:
The Atlas Effect: Under Teddy Atlas, Povetkin sacrificed activity for efficiency. In four CompuBox-tracked fights pre-Atlas, Povetkin averaged 59.3 punches per round (22.5 percent above the 46.0 heavyweight norm) compared to 37.5 now -- a 36.8 percent drop. However, Povetkin now lands 36.3 percent overall, 25.4 percent (jabs) and an impressive 44.5 percent (power), a considerable improvement over the pre-Atlas 29.2 percent (overall), 13.7 percent (jabs) and 35.6 percent (power).
Povetkin's defense is also sharper. Pre-Atlas, Povetkin's opponents landed 2.2 percentage points than Povetkin (31.4 percent to 29.2), 8.3 points more jabs (22.0 to 13.7) and 2.5 points more power punches (38.1 to 35.6). Under Atlas, Povetkin has the upper hand in all categories -- and not by a little. Povetkin enjoys percentage-point gaps of 19.7 in total punches (36.3 to 16.6), 16.4 in jabs (25.4 to 9.0) and 12.6 in power shots (44.5 to 31.9).
But the Atlas-Povetkin partnership is strained, if not severed. Will Povetkin continue to apply Atlas' principles and will he miss Atlas' legendary between-rounds speeches? This fight may give us the answers.
Fighting Underwater: Huck has been out-landed in his last four fights -- 156-70 by Denis Lebedev, 198-141 by Ran Nakash, 185-154 by Hugo Garay and 80-50 by Rogelio Rossi. So how did Huck manage to go 4-0, especially since 95 percent of fighters who are out-landed lose? Here's how:
* Home field advantage -- This was especially true in the Lebedev fight, in which the split decision in Huck's favor was considered one of 2010's worst decisions.
* Enormous power, especially in the right hand -- Huck stopped Garay and Rossi, dropping the former twice and the latter three times in the process.
* Ruggedness -- Although Huck absorbs a high percentage of his opponents' power shots (42.2 against Rossi, 43 against Garay, 42.3 against Nakash and 47.1 against Lebedev), Huck hides the effects well and makes sure to strike back instantly so the images of his being dominated don't linger in judges' minds. Also, Nakash zoomed to a 83-23 connects lead in the first three rounds but over the next nine Huck prevailed 118-115 and pounded Nakash's face into hamburger.
The Southpaw Factor: If Povetkin can turn lefty -- at least during portions of the fight -- he can freeze Huck's offense. Against Lebedev and Rossi, Huck averaged just 28.2 punches per round -- 49.1 percent below the 55.4 cruiserweight average -- landing 23.7 percent (overall) and 30.7 percent (power). The southpaws also landed 23.7 percent overall but 45.1 percent of their power shots -- a minus-14.4 for Huck.
Against two right-handers, Huck's output surged to 46.7 and his percentages to 28.7 (overall) and 41.7 (power) while the right-handed opponents threw 47.1, landed 37 percent (overall) and 42.7 percent (power). The righties boasted a plus-8.3 over Huck overall but just a plus-1.0 in power percentage.
Prediction: Huck must try to out-hustle the prudent Povetkin with patented power flurries. He also must come in at a weight that adds enough bulk to prevent being overpowered without sacrificing speed or cardiovascular conditioning. Povetkin must maintain the technical skills learned under Atlas but also must pick up his pace to neutralize Huck's speed and impose his superior power.
Neither man will benefit from home cooking as both are German-based. The guess here is that Povetkin's size, power and pedigree (he was an Olympic gold medalist) will trump Huck's volume en route to a decisive decision. But if he puts the pedal to the metal, he can earn a TKO.