By Alexey Sukachev and Inna Lagun (Allboxing.ru)
WBA heavyweight champion Alexander Povetkin (23-0, 16 KOs) is currently preparing for the toughest defense of his career so far – a twelve-rounder against world-class cruiserweight and former long-time champion Marko Huck (34-1, 25 KOs). Povetkin started his sparring sessions this past Friday, while his head coach Teddy Atlas is still overseas, doing his job as an analyst for the ESPN cable network.
Povetkin’s manager Vladimir Hryunov addressed this situation in his interview with R-Sport media agency. “Sasha is currently in Chekhov, preparing for his fight with (Marko) Huck. He already carried out his first sparring sessions tonight. Two American sparring partners are already in Chekhov, while two more are coming to replace them very soon. Teddy Atlas knows this but he is still in the States”.
Hryunov also gave his thoughts to some of the recent statements, reportedly made by Atlas in his recent conversation with one of the web agencies. According to Atlas, his job at ESPN and a subsequent busy schedule prevents him from guiding Alexander’s preparations in Russia, and the camp would have to take place in America.
“There’s an item in Teddy’s contract”, says Hryunov, “which addresses this situation and clarifies it with sufficient details. The situation can be compared with the flow of events in summer (before the Ruslan Chagaev fight), when Atlas visited Russia and was financially indemnified for his activities. This time Atlas was offered to come to Russia on Monday (Jan. 16) and he was offered compensation for any possible conflicts with ESPN in regards to any missed dates."
"If you carefully study their schedule, you will see there are no fight dates on ESPN this week, so Teddy Atlas had every chance to visit out training camp and to help Alexander in his work in a span of two weeks. Teddy was also guaranteed a first-class flight to the States whenever he decides to continue his work with the cable channel."
According to Povetkin’s preparations, Hryunov said the following: “Alexander is penciled in for a fight in Europe, so Europe is the only reasonable location for him to train at. When Atlas says, all Alexander’s preparations should take place in the States… well, that’s not correct. Sasha has a title bout ahead, and he stands put in Russia, where he belongs. Teddy knows about it; we have discussed it numerous times."
"My task is to provide our champion with the best possible conditions for training. Going to America for the camp, then coming back to Russia – this is definitely not the most logical idea, I think”.
Hryunov added he stays in constant connection with Atlas. “We had tense discussions with Atlas on Thursday, and I think he will return to Russia at last”, commented manager. “If he doesn't, we have a replacement ready to substitute Atlas as chief coach. The decision is made, but I don’t want to comment on it now. I’m still waiting for Teddy Atlas to appear in Russia”.
Meanwhile, according to Bild (German media source), the man to replace Atlas is a well-known Russian specialist, Alexander Zimin, who is best remembered for coaching former WBC flyweight king Yuri Arbachakov, former WBA lightweight master Orzubek Nazarov and former WBA heavyweight champion Nikolay Valuev among others.
Chris Meyer, Sauerland Event executive director confirmed to Bild that Atlas wouldn’t take part in the camp. “Yes, I heard about it”, said Meyer. “But Teddy Atlas isn’t our protégé. He has a contract with our Russian partners, not with us”.