Words: Petra Kirsch – Gelsenkirchen
Picture: Andreas Sauer – Sauerland
Reigning ‘Regular’ WBA heavyweight world titlist Alexander Povetkin will not be trading leather with mandatory challenger Hasim Rahman at the Boleyn Ground in London on Saturday, July 14 because of a clash between licensing in Britain and broadcasting in Germany. While the David Haye and Dereck Chisora main event will remain in England, Povetkin and Rahman will be rehoused in Hamburg on the same night.
Licensing at the football ground of West Ham United dictates that Haye and Chisora’s grudge fight could not begin later than 22:00 and, due to German TV network ARD’s demands that Povetkin v Rahman fill that time slot and occur prior to the former fight, scheduling proved impossible. Chris Meyer, managing director of Sauerland Event, explained: “It is due to organisational aspects; the English time schedule was too tight.”
He continued: “We wouldn’t have been able to guarantee that the fight could have been broadcasted live in Germany. Therefore the heavyweight world championship will be staged in Hamburg. There are not a lot of cities in Germany which can host such an event on such short notice. Hamburg is a real boxing city with a great audience and a lot of boxing tradition. Furthermore the city possesses the required infrastructure to host such a big event.”
Povetkin added: “My fourth fight as a pro was in Hamburg, back in 2005. Obviously I remember that fight very well. I have also been there a few times to visit my promoter Kalle Sauerland.”
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.
Tommy Barber – London
Rising heavyweight prospect Tyson Fury looks set to support the homecoming of Amir Khan as the self-proclaimed gypsy is rumoured to be boxing former IBF and WBC World Heavyweight titlist Hasim Rahman on the Khan and Paul McCloskey undercard at the MEN Arena, Manchester, England on April 16.
Since becoming one of the latest benefactors to receive tutelage from esteemed trainer Emanuel Steward, both Fury (14-0-0, 10ko) and Steward have reportedly been looking at name opponents for Fury to fight – and hopefully defeat – in order to further elevate his own rankings; both domestically and internationally.
Currently the number one challenger to Dereck Chisora’s British heavyweight title, Fury – an English belt holder – recently beat erstwhile undefeated Brazilian; Marcelo Luiz Nascimento.
While the domestic dust-up with Chisora continues to build momentum, Antonio Tarver had been mooted as a possible opponent beforehand as, in the paraphrased words of Steward, Tarver represented one of the biggest names that Fury could beat at this stage in his career.
According to Boxing Scene, the name of Tarver has since been replaced with Hasim Rahman (49-7-2, 40ko).
Steward is a renowned coach for heavyweight boxers. He guided Lennox Lewis’ career when the Briton dominated the no-limit weight class earlier in the century, as well as masterminding Wladimir Klitschko’s comeback.
One of Klitschko’s fallen adversaries included Rahman – so Steward already knows what it takes to oversee the American veteran.
The undercard, meanwhile, remains stacked with strong match-ups. Together with the aforementioned voluntary defence of Khan’s crown against McCloskey, and the yet to be determined opponent for Tyson Fury, British welterweight titlist Craig Watson takes on Lee Purdy.
Hatton Promotions president Ricky Hatton, who is helping organise the event, said on Fight News: “I am proud to showcase some of the most exciting and talented young champions from the Hatton Promotions stable on what I believe is one of the best undercards that has been staged in the history of the MEN Arena.”
He added: “It is the philosophy of Hatton Promotions to stage well matched and entertaining fights. Craig Watson, Scott Quigg, Martin Murray and Anthony Crolla are four champions who are never in a dull fight and who will hopefully be challenging for world titles themselves in the near future.
“On top of that we have prospects like Richard Towers, Adam Etches, Tasif Khan and Dezzie Higginson all hoping to make their mark as they move up the professional rankings.”