Tommy Barber – London
As if the weight classes were not convoluted enough with four major sanctioning bodies, The Ring belt, a litter of minor titles and the complicated matter of ‘Regular’ and ‘Interim’ status compounded by the WBA’s splintered championship, there is now the dubious matter of Aleksandr Povetkin‘s next defence with cruiserweight king Marco Huck lobbying for contention while unhappy mandatory challenger Hasim Rahman is seemingly pushed to the wayside…
David Haye’s former belt was won by Wladimir Klitschko when the Ukrainian technically and tactically out-classed the British challenger earlier in the year, in July, in Germany.
Wladimir, as an already-unified champion, added the WBA belt to his IBF/WBO/IBO and The Ring titles and, when such a feat occurs, the WBA ‘elevate’ the victor into ‘Super’ status, a tag Wlad now holds, thus vacating the ‘Regular’ belt. The WBA are the main beneficiaries, of course, as it allows them to double-up on their sanctioning fees if they recognise two champions.
The deal also had an advantage for fans as, if it weren’t for Klitschko’s promotion to ‘Super’ champion, there would likely not have been the solid match-up between Povetkin and Ruslan Chagaev in August, again in Germany.
Povetkin (23-0-0, 16ko) prevailed and saw himself hailed as a new heavyweight champ.
What has transpired since, however, has left something to be desired. His first defence was a straight-forward knockout over the elusive Cedric Boswell on a night that was overshadowed by three ringside judges’ robbing Dereck Chisora of a deserved victory over hometown favourite Robert Helenius at the Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Finland.
Fellow European pugilist Marco Huck (34-1-0, 25ko), who has bombarded his way through the cruiserweight division having only limited himself to taking on one respectable opponent per year (Ola Afolabi in 2009, Denis Lebedev in 2010 and an assortment of journeymen), is slated to be next in line for Povetkin.
Whilst detractors may, perhaps rightfully, feel aggrieved at the current trend of picking either past or present cruisers for heavy opposition (David Haye proving physically inferior to Wlad, Klitschko’s upcoming fight with Jean-Marc Mormeck and brother Vitali’s complete domination over former light heavyweight and cruiserweight champion Tomasz Adamek), the Povetkin v Huck date is arguably more of a finely-balanced affair as the German only gives up half an inch in height to Sasha and has a comparable reach.
The contest, scheduled for February 25 at the Porsche Arena in Stuttgart, has already met vehement opposition, though, and will be challenged by Rahman’s backers, leaving both the fight date ambiguous should they be successful in their protest with the WBA.
Greg Cohen, Rahman’s promoter, said: “Rahman is Povetkin’s mandatory. Povetkin already had an optional defence against Boswell. I have the letter from the WBA. Povetkin has until February 27 to fight against Rahman. The only way they could fight Marco Huck is if we stepped aside and we’re not stepping aside.”
A copy of the letter is included below.
October 7, 2011
Mr. ALEXANDER POVETKIN
WBA HEAVYWEIGHT World Champion
(contact info removed)
Please take notice, that pursuant to championship rule 12 you must defend the title against the official contender one hundred and eighty days (180) from the date you became the champion.
Since you won the championship on August 27, 2011 the next obligatory championship bout will be due on February 27, 2012, and shall box against the highest available contender Hasim Rahman.
Also we must notify that according to rule 13 title matches are limited to a sixty-day period expiration date starting from December 27, 2011 in which the World Champion or official contender are forbid to participate in a different bout. The first 30 days would be considered as the free negotiation period.
If no agreement is reached within the time indicated a purse bid will be called.
Gilberto Jesus Mendoza
Rahman (50-7-2, 41ko) is undeserving of his lofty number one ranking with the Association. Despite his past achievements: claiming the lineal, WBC, IBF and IBO heavyweight titles due to sealing one of the greatest upsets in modern boxing (knocking out Lennox Lewis in 2001), he has not defeated an elite-level fighter since.
Victories over mid-level contenders Kali Meehan and Monte Barrett were over half a decade ago. A match-up against Wlad three years ago resulted in a one-sided destruction that has typified Klitschko’s reign and The Rock Rahman has fought just once since October, 2010; a successful June dust-up over obscure club fighter Galen Brown.
Yet this was enough to see him rise to the top of the WBA’s charts.
Despite the apparent confirmations of Povetkin v Huck early next year, Cohen issued the following caveat to those pondering attendance: “There have been several erroneous reports about Hasim fighting someone else or of someone else fighting Alexander Povetkin. We wish to state for the record that Hasim Rahman fully intends to enforce his mandatory status and face Alexander Povetkin early next year.”
Any potential controversy must be shouldered by the WBA as the whole ordeal is one in which they designed. It is clear transparency is needed but, as of yet, no official response has been made so, for now, Huck remains the opponent for Povetkin’s second defence.