I didn't see anything in their Aug. 12 staredown to convince me that Wladimir Klitschko isn't going to do to Alexander Povetkin on Saturday what he has done to every other foe he's faced since 2004, in one manner of another. And, in fact, and this is purely my preference here, I would have liked to see the 34-year-old Povetkin featuring more of a contained fury, or a deepset certainty, as opposed to a lightness of mood, which I saw in the couple times in his eyes.
He seemed buoyant, unaffected by the import of the impending task, an immense one to be sure.
Or..does he know something we don't? See something we don't? Has his scouting ahead of the Saturday clash in Moscow, which will run on HBO Saturday afternoon (3:30 PM ET) picked up on some deterioration not apparent to most naked eyes? Is that the reason his demeanor looked like that of a serene soul ready to seamlessly attempt a task done successfully 10,000 times before?
I am dubious, and of course, have every right to be, seeing as how Wladimir (60-3 with 51 KOs; seen in MichaelSterlingEaton.com photo, working with trainer Jonathan Banks) is a master craftsman, a cerebral wiz in the ring whose preparation prior to battle and focus during combat makes him a pound for pound ace. If am dubious, former trainer Teddy Atlas, the combustible and cerebral former protege of Cus D'Amato, is the opposite. He told me he likes Povetkin (26-0 with 18 KOs), who he started working with after “Sasha” looked so-so against Eddie Chambers back in 2008, to knock out Wladimir.
I informed Povetkin's promoters, the Sauerland brothers in Germany, of Atlas' call, and Kalle Sauerland concurred. “Povetkin by TKO,” he predicted. “Alexander is a born winner, everything he has touched, he has won. He has had an extensive and long training camp and is in the best shape of his life.”
Povetkin last gloved up in a stay-busy scrap with Andrej Wawrzyk March 17, scoring a TKO3 win. He had no worries in that one, or against beyond-faded Hasim Rahman last September, but was pushed by undersized Marco Huck in Feb. 2012, coming away with a MD12 win.
(By the way, for those curious, no, there was no talk, Atlas told me, about a return engagement. It is off season from ESPN, and he'd maybe be free to travel to train, but “that ship has already sailed.” I asked Teddy, who looks forward to a new season of “Friday Night Fights” which starts January 3, 2014, if he'd be watching on Saturday. “He's no longer part of my responsibility,” he told me. “I thought it was part of our destiny, we started with Klitschko in mind, and it's come full circle. It's kind of funny, and I'm maybe a little disappointed it played out this way, but it's obvious I'm not part of it. I will be doing things that are part of my life now.”)
Truth be told, I haven't been impressed at the doughy nature of Povetkin in most of his fights, feeling that body fat is indicative of a lack of rigor. But perhaps, in fact, this time he will have done all the right things in training, and can make Atlas and the Sauerlands look prescient.
This bout will unfold in Moscow on Saturday evening, and they are nine hours ahead of us, so it will screen in the US, on HBO, Saturday at 3:30 PM ET, and a replay will be offered later that night on HBO, prior to the Miguel Cotto-Delvin Rodriguez scrap.
Readers, please offer your prediction in our Forum.