As the Lomachenko circus roles into London and the world prepares to witness his mystic powers once again, my attention, are diverted towards the big men standing in his small shadow. People ask me why I obsess over the heavyweight division and for me, it is because Heavyweight boxing delivers drama and thrill in a way that even the greatest little men often lack, the suspense of a single punch just waiting to end the fight. This weekend’s clash is no different. These men are two of the forgotten men of heavyweight boxing, both at two very different points of two very storied and polarised careers. The favorite, Povetkin is in an odd twilight phase of his career, having captured Olympic gold at the 2004 Athens games he was on track to be Russia’s next world champion. However, after losses in his two title efforts to Wladimir Klitschko and Anthony Joshua and at 39 years of age it seems like this is last chance saloon for the Kursk native. Fury however turned pro at 18 with no amateur experience, part of the fighting gypsy family his cousin Tyson has come to represent globally. After a quick pro start, he challenged for a world title in his 19th pro fight losing a razor-thin decision to Joseph Parker. He rebounded and obliterated Sam Sexton for the British title and then again faced veteran Kubrat Pulev in his native Sofia, Bulgaria, where after a horrendous cut he lost a wide decision. Now after two comeback warmups, one he takes on another veteran in his Matchroom debut keen to prove that at only 24 he’s just getting started.
So now we know why these two lesser-known but extremely talented fighters are stepping in with each other, let’s look at their skills, attributes and see who will progress back into the pantheon of heavyweight elites.
The Favorite: Alexander Povetkin
Height: 6”2 (188cm)
Weight: 226lbs (16 stone 2, 105.2KG)
Reach: 75 inches (191cm)
Record: 34-2(24 KO’s)
Odds to Win*: 8/15
Best Attribute: Although a very proficient amateur his style in the pro game has not been that of a slick boxer, with his shorter stockier frame he has adapted to punch up to his larger pro opponents. In learning this he has learned the lesson of the great Joe Frazier and refined a Left Hook capable of stopping any heavyweight on the planet. He squares his feet and forces all of his weight up through his lead leg whipping the left hook upward towards the chin. The reason this Povetkin’s premier attribute is, as well as power there is also speed. He snaps through the punch with a fluid movement as his whole body propels velocity into the punch. This has proved extremely dangerous against tall fighters like Hughie, knocking out 6″9 David Price and wobbling 6″6 Anthony Joshua.
Key to Victory: Essentially the key to victory for Povetkin is being able to land the aforementioned left hook or a similarly powerful punch. To do this he will need to Cut off the Ring, preventing Hughie from exploiting his advantages in height and reach and keep him pinned down. In this endeavor, footwork will be key. He must stay on the front foot constantly, pushing Hughie backward to the ropes and then placing his front foot into his path as soon as Fury attempts to pivot out of harm’s way. Povetkin must anticipate exactly which way Fury intends to move and at the exact right moment push him back the other, this will pin Hughie down, preventing the lateral movement and long jabs that are so key to his game. This will make the fight a dirty, up close affair, something that will stack the odds in favor of the Russian.
The Underdog: Hughie Fury
Height: 6”6 (198cm)
Weight: 224lbs (16 stone, 101.6 KG)
Reach: 80 inches (203 cm)
Record: 23-2 (13 KO’s)
Odds to Win*: 6/4
Best Attribute: I think the defining factor in this fight will be Hughies excellent Lateral Movement. As mentioned this has been at the core of his skill set for his entire pro career and I think it will serve his excellently well against Alexander Povetkin if combined with an effective jab, something I believe Hughie also possesses. He can pivot quickly and effectively for a man of his size and I think keeping the older and slower Povetkin moving, forcing him constantly chase Hughie around the ring will tire and frustrate the Russian and cause him to make mistakes that Hughie can exploit. The other attribute that I think will become telling is Fury’s Youth. In boxing, there are always passing of the torch moments and I think this is one as the old contender gives way to the new, at 39 Povetkin will not be as sharp as he was at 30 and at 24 Fury is just entering his physical peak, something that could pay in the championship rounds of this fight.
Key to victory: Having the mastermind of the miracle of Dusseldorf, the man who created the game plan to dethrone of Wladimir Klitschko, Peter Fury, as your father and trainer your game plan is bound to be excellent, and for me Sticking too and executing that Game Plan is what will lead Hughie to victory. Jab and move, jab and hold, lateral movement, feints, and an accurate right hand is the combination that will allow Fury to assert dominance over Povetkin and open him up for the killer shot. Hughie can draw confidence from the first man to defeat Povetkin, Wladimir Klitschko, a man with almost identical physical dimensions to Fury himself, and the way he stole the fight from under Povetkin, with this exact gameplan.
Prediction: I think this is a classic 50-50 fight with arguments for both men to win the fight and win well. However, in watching their fights I believe that Fury is the more improved fighter, after both the setback losses he has come away and improved, growing into his body and skill set. Povetkin, however, is looking increasingly weather-beaten, jaded by his long career, being stopped by Joshua and wobbled hard by David Price in his last two fights. This combined with the fact that after his failed test he has been heavily scrutinised and observed by promoters and testing agencies, unable to use some of the chemical tricks he has used in the past. He is also coming off a full years lay off, where Hughie is coming off back to back warmup fights, tailored to have him ready for a huge end of summer fight. I think that although in his heyday Povetkin would have probably beaten this version of Hughie, timing, age and confidence will prove Povetkin’s undoing. I think that Fury will be the bigger fresher man, imposing his jab and move style and either cruise to a comfortable decision or stop the Russian in the last two or three rounds, the fight simply beaten out of him.