By Tim Starks
For three rounds on Saturday, it looked as though Alexander Povetkin was going to give Marco Huck a rude introduction to the heavyweight division.
But Huck charged back, and by fight’s end in a seesaw, action affair, it looked as though Huck had an excellent chance of becoming just the third former cruiserweight beltholder to win a piece of the heavyweight title, joining Evander Holyfield and David Haye.
Instead, Povetkin kept his WBA “regular” belt with a majority decision that wasn’t popular with the crowd in Stuttgart, Germany. Judge Philippe Verbeke scored it even, 114-114; John Coyle had it 116-113 for Povetkin; and Stanley Cristodoulou also had Povetkin winning, 116-112.
The 1st began with Huck and Povetkin trading jabs, but Huck’s were crisper. It would be a pattern throughout the fight – Huck would land head-snapping, flush jabs.
In another pattern that began in the opening stanza, referee Luis Pabon warned Huck for holding down the head of Povetkin, who repeatedly ducked very low to avoid Huck’s big right hands.
But Povetkin, fighting without usual trainer Teddy Atlas following an acrimonious split, turned up the heat in the 2nd, firing combinations to the head and body that left Huck bleeding from his mouth. Povetkin did more damage with the same offensive tactics in the 3rd.
The 4th saw momentum switch back to Huck, though, who forced Povetkin off-balance with a punch that connected on the back of Povetkin’s head as he leaned down. And by the 5th, Povetkin was already boxing with his mouth open, and slowing down his attack.
Povetkin recovered some in a close 6th round, by which another pattern had developed: Povetkin would start strong with combinations, but Huck would come back with the heavier, more flush shots after Povetkin slowed down – usually big right hands.
Things continued along those lines – with an interlude where Huck rocked Povetkin in the 9th – through the 10th, when Povetkin opened a small cut underneath Huck’s left eye. In the 11th, Povetkin shook off his exhaustion and did more damage to Huck’s face, opening a second cut on the outside of Huck’s left eye.
For as effective as he was in the 11th, Povetkin might’ve used the last of his energy. He started the 12th well, but soon thereafter Huck connected on the single hardest blow of the fight, a big overhand right, and would follow with many more.
That Povetkin withstood the assault suggests that Povetkin has a world-class chin, or that Huck didn’t hit as hard as a heavyweight as he did as a cruiserweight, or both. Povetkin could barely stand at the end of the fight nonetheless, due to some combination of exhaustion or punishment.
When Povetkin was announced as the winner, the crowd reacted with whistles of dissatisfaction. Both fighters have fought frequently in Germany, although the crowd appeared to somewhat favor Huck during ring walks.
Afterward, Povetkin indicated that he wasn’t in the kind of shape he should’ve been, which could’ve explained his energy ebbs. “I don’t know,” he said. “Maybe I underestimated him.”
Huck made his future plans clear: He wants to stay at heavyweight, for at least one more bout. “I dominated him and I showed my class tonight,” he said. After such a performance tonight, I hope to get a rematch because I dominated him.”
In the second fight of a doubleheader televised in the United States by Epix, light heavyweight WBO titlist Nathan Cleverly shut out Tommy Karpency by winning every round on all three scorecards.
That made sense, because every round was identical: Cleverly would press forward, throwing and connecting on a high volume of punches – with a left hook to the body his favorite shot – and Karpency would try, without any luck, to counter off the ropes.
Karpency gave an honest effort. But he was severely outclassed, a low-level opponent brought in for Cleverly’s return to his native Wales.
The only thing missing from Cleverly’s performance was big power. He nailed Karpency for all 12 rounds with clean head and body punches, but Karpency never was hurt and his face didn’t even appear marked.
With Cleverly auditioning for a bout against another top light heavyweight, like Bernard Hopkins, Cleverly made a case for himself as an aggressive and skilled fighter, but not an explosive one.
Tim Starks is the founder of the popular "The Queensberry Rules" boxing blog.