Ekaterinburg, Russia, near the border of Europe and Asia, was the site of an important heavyweight match today (Friday, Dec. 15) pitting former WBC world heavyweight titlist Alexander Povetkin against Christian Hammer (aka Cristian Ciocan). A gold medalist for Russia in the 2004 Olympics, Povetkin improved his record to 33-1 with a virtual shutout over his German-Croatian opponent.
Hammer (22-5) entered the contest in fine form, having won 15 of his previous 16 starts. However, he fought timidly tonight, landing very few punches. The scores were 120-107, 120-108, and 119-108. Like so many important heavyweight fights over the years in this part of the world, Povetkin vs. Hammer was humdrum. However, the 38-year-old Russian thrust his way back into the heavyweight mix. He has now won seven straight since suffering his lone defeat, a lopsided decision to Wladimir Klitschko in 2013.
Povetkin’s history of PED use has been well-documented. Last year he had fights fall out against Deontay Wilder and Bermane Stiverne, stranding his opponents in a foreign land. He was banned for life by the WBC which had an about-face in November and rescinded the ban. To be on the safe side, the promoters of today’s show had a stand-in ready to fill the void should either Povetkin or Hammer be deemed unqualified to fight. The alternate was obscure Japanese contender Kyotaro Fujimoto.
In another bout of note, ever-improving 22-year-old Russian super welterweight Magomed Kurbanov improved to 13-0 with an eighth round stoppage of Japanese veteran Akinori Watanabe (35-7). Watanabe, a tough cookie, protested when the doctor stopped the fight but there was swelling around both eyes and his left eye was swollen shut.
Also, Russian heavyweight Evgueny Romanov improved to 7-0 with a six-round decision over grossly overweight Tornike Puritchamiashvili. As an amateur, Romanov defeated current WBC world heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder.
The Povetkin-Hammer match, televised in the U.K. on Sky Sports, was sanctioned as a title eliminator by the World Boxing Organization whose heavyweight champion is Joseph Parker, but Povetkin has his sight set on a match with Anthony Joshua.
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