If the rumors and innuendos are true it's looking like WBC heavyweight title holder Deontay Wilder 35-0 (34) will meet former WBA title holder Alexander Povetkin 30-1 (22) this coming April or May. That is assuming Wilder beats Artur Szpilka 20-1 (15) this coming January 16th. By today's standards Wilder-Povetkin with a legitimate title belt on the line is a big fight….and that's because it's pretty much a toss-up as far as the outcome.
Povetkin, 36, who has been a pro since mid-2005, is still in search of a signature win. As a fighter he is basically a tweener. He's not an all-out attacker nor is he a big puncher. He's a grinder who is pretty durable but lacks one-punch fight altering power. If you're soft he'll expose it, but he never looks impressive winning. Most of the time after his fights you come away saying, “he's not bad, he's certainly not a stiff – but I think he won more-so because the other guy wasn't that good.” The thing you know most about Povetkin is, he'll show up in shape and give it his all and try to win. Povetkin, who fought last month scored a knockout win over Mariusz Wach, is not going to fight again until the fight with Wilder goes through.
As for Wilder, 30, he looks like a killer standing in the corner waiting for the bell to ring. He's tall with a long reach and rippling muscles. His legs are a little disproportionate to his body but then again the same thing was said about Thomas Hearns – who is certifiably one of the greatest pound-for-pound punchers in boxing history. Wilder is good from long range and his entire offense is based on him striking with his right hand, which he sometimes is a little overanxious with. The questions hovering over Wilder are, his stamina doesn't seem to be that great and he's been shook pretty good on a few occasions by punches that on the surface from afar didn't appear to be noteworthy.
The amazing thing about a potential Wilder-Povetkin bout is, as much as it would be anticipated, the doubts and questions regarding both guys is the driving force behind the interest. From what I've gathered nobody, I mean nobody, really believes that Wilder or Povetkin are remotely the best heavyweight in the world. It's more like one of them will be exposed as a first tier fraud and the winner lives on to fight another big bout to prove that maybe he's not. Povetkin has been around for 10 years and in the signature bout of his career, he stunk the place out and was bullied and knocked down four times by Wladimir Klitschko in a losing effort in a showing in which neither guy looked like anything special. Povetkin's best win came against Ruslan Chagaev back in 2011 when he won the vacant WBA title. The only problem with that is, Chagaev wasn't a world beater and is basically a tweener like Povetkin, in other words nothing stands out about him as a heavyweight contender. The difference in their bout was Povetkin was a little busier and imposed himself on Chagaev more than the opposite. In essence, if you're nothing close to being special as a fighter, Povetkin will eventually grind you down and win in a pedestrian manner.
As for Wilder, his signature win came against Bermane Stiverne during his title winning effort a year ago. Wilder surprised everyone because he basically controlled the fight from start to finish winning a lop-sided unanimous decision. However, he was shook a few times during the fight and one gets the feeling that no matter how good Wilder looks, he one punch away from getting stretched out on the canvas. And what makes that perception scary is, Wilder is an offensive fighter and gets hit cleanly during exchanges. His attacking assault is exciting for the fans to watch, but it doesn't take the most accurate or polished fighter around to find his chin, and the thought that he'll go is the thing that keeps a majority of fans not totally believing in him as being the genuine article.
After the above diatribe, it sounds as if I'm pouring cold water on a fight that many want to see. But I live in reality, and the cold hard truth is, after 10 years I know that Povetkin, even if he were to beat Wilder – is not going to create much excitement down the road in the heavyweight division. I think Tyson Fury would tie him in knots and neutralize his somewhat primitive attack, and Luis Ortiz has the size, strength, punch and skill to beat him up and either stop him late or win every round to walk away with a unanimous decision.
Unlike most observers, I believe Wilder can punch with his right hand a little bit. But I think he's too reliant on it and I don't have faith in his chin. I don't know if he beats Povetkin, but I think he should if he fights the right fight and doesn't go crazy looking for the knockout because I don't think he'll get it. Because of his size and right hand, I think he's a threat against anybody he fights. That said, beating Povetkin buys him the opportunity to silence his critics again, because we know, or at least it shouldn't, beating Povetkin won't do it due to the warts associated with Alexander's resume and body of work.
Never do I remember a fight that'll be anticipated the way Wilder vs. Povetkin will be once it is signed, that featured two contenders that most look at as being gate keepers more than anything else. Will Wilder's power overwhelm Povetkin before Deontay tires or will he run out of steam in the process and eventually get stopped himself?
That's what makes the match up intriguing…and even once those questions are answered, I doubt anyone will view the winner as the main man in the heavyweight division.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com