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Wilder-Povetkin – According to the WBC, heavyweight title holder Deontay Wilder owes Alexander Povetkin a mandatory defense. In other words, Wilder 36-0 (35) must take on Povetkin 30-1 (22) in his next bout or be stripped of his belt. And if you believe Lou DiBella, who was the promoter of record for Deontay’s last three bouts….if everything goes according to plan, they are shooting to make Wilder-Povetkin on May 21st at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

“The ball’s in their court,” DiBella told USA TODAY Sports, referring to Povetkin and his team. “I’m waiting to hear back from (Russian promoter) Andrey Ryabinski. I discussed some possible terms with them that I thought were fair. (I expect to hear back) early next week.”

“I’m super confident in that fight” Wilder said.  “I’ve been waiting for Povetkin for a very long time. I’m looking forward to him. I’m glad that he was here (for Wilder’s last fight vs. Szpilka) to take notes and we all know styles make fights. I’m looking forward to it. My goal is to be the undisputed champion of the world.”

Povetkin, who has never fought in the United States, is open to making his debut here and said “USA is the center of professional boxing, so to speak, there’s a lot of TV attention here and a lot of people watch boxing here. So if I become popular here, I become popular all around the world.”

Wilder vs. Povetkin is an intriguing matchup of top-5 heavyweights. Opinions are split on who will win when they finally come to blows. The fight makes all the sense in the world for Povetkin. He’s 36 years old and lost in his last bid for the title against Wladimir Klitschko in October of 2013. Alexander knows this is probably his last shot at the big time and will fight anyone who holds a title belt. Deontay has repeatedly said he wants to get the Povetkin fight out of the way so he’s free to move on to a bigger fight versus the Fury-Klitschko II winner.

And therein lays my doubt in regards to if we’ll actually see Wilder vs. Povetkin this coming May. Povetkin is capable of upsetting Wilder’s plans. Alexander has a very good chin and got up off the canvas four times to go the distance with Klitschko, who is an exponentially bigger puncher than Wilder. In addition to that, Povetkin can punch pretty good and is clearly better than anyone Wilder has been in the ring with minus the headgear and small gloves, not to mention he has a little bit of a mean streak in him that Wilder hasn’t encountered before. By no means is Wilder automatic to beat Povetkin.

Wilder-Povetkin? In May They Say, But I Have My Doubts

Deontay had more than a few difficult flashes in his last two bouts versus Johann Duhaupas and Artur Szpilka. Even during his best moments he never looked further than being one-punch away from being in trouble, at least to me. Duhaupas and Szpilka entered their bouts against Wilder boasting moderately impressive records, but they’re both a full grade below Povetkin at the world class level. Bermane Stiverne, who is the only fighter who has gone the distance with Wilder, isn’t known for his conditioning, yet Wilder, who is promoted as if he’s the George Foreman of this generation, never even had Stiverne in trouble other than for a brief second at the end of round two when Wilder appeared to stun Stiverne as they both stumbled to the canvas, which referee Tony Weeks didn’t rule a knockdown. Bermane’s problem was he followed the retreating Wilder around the ring but just didn’t get off enough and even yelled at Wilder during round six to “stand here and fight.” For some unknown reason Stiverne looked strangely lethargic against Wilder and I’m not convinced that Deontay had everything to do with that.

From a business perspective Povetkin is a conundrum for Wilder. The risk-reward factor is out of balance financially and Povetkin is capable of beating Wilder stylistically. Povetkin is a grinder with some skill and power and he takes a great shot. If he takes Wilder into the deep end of the pool, Wilder’s stamina and chin will be tested like never before during the last third of the bout.

Unless the fight takes place in Russia or Ryabinski is willing to bankroll Wilder, it’s a zero money fight for the WBC title-holder. So my thinking is, why would anyone take such an enormous risk when there are such lucrative options available? Wilder vs. Anthony Joshua would be a huge attraction in a year if Joshua can get past Charles Martin this coming April, and Wilder’s chances are actually better against Joshua than against Povetkin. And Wilder versus David Haye or Tyson Fury would be for much more money than he’ll make fighting Povetkin.

Team Wilder is emphatic that the Povetkin fight is next, so we’ll see. But don’t be surprised if it doesn’t happen. There’s been a lot of money invested in Wilder, and the goal for the money people is max return on investment. A loss to Povetkin would blow that up, perhaps forever.

Wilder vs. Povetkin would be an intriguing heavyweight clash that either guy can win. Hope we see it.

Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com

 

Check out this video about the heavyweight division at The Boxing Channel

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