An amazing Russian heavyweight elimination tourney of sorts takes place in Messehalle, Erfurt, Germany on Saturday, August 27 when Alexander Povetkin squares off against Ruslan Chagaev for the WBA “Regular” Championship while Robert Helenius takes on Siarhei Liakhovich for the WBA/WBO Intercontinental belts.
OK, Robert Helenius and Siarhei Liakhovich are the odd men out, being only the amiable next door Finnish and Belarussian neighbors rather than pure Russian rivals, but it’s a great time to cash in on the Russian connection while they’re still around.
Povetkin has the most impressive amateur credentials with his Olympic Gold Medal, but Chagaev comes in with his World Gold medal. Both were heavily promoted all action style fighters at the start of their pro careers, but have petered out of late due to an overwhelming lethargy in their fights and careers.
Perhaps there really is only a single bullet left in their collective chambers that they mean to use up in this Russian Roulette elmination bout. A few years ago and interest in the bout would have been notable, but today, who really cares that much other than their mothers?
Helenius and Liakhovich were also heralded amateurs before rising to some acclaim in the pro ranks.
Helenius, however, is the only legitimate threat to the Klitschko reign, being a supersized heavy himself with plenty of heart, chin, and punch to handle all previous challenges.
Liakhovich is no wilting flower, though. The former WBO champ had considerable talent that he never fully realized, so this looks like the last go round for him and one huge obstacle to overcome since his last big bout, a wide decision loss to big Niko Valuev some 3 yrs ago.
The White Wolf has the coolest boxing moniker by a long shot, but he’s the oldest and most inactive of this foursome, age 35 with only two fights in last 3 years, both knockouts over modest opposition. Helenius gives the impression of a young Cassius, a lean and hungry look about him at only age 27 and improving fight by fight. The White Wolf may have other plans, so they got to fight to prove who really wants it.
Could really be a corker if Liakhovich shows up in great shape ready for a fight.
Returning to the scene of “The Big Names,” Povetkin and Chagaev have spent the last few years circling the collective drain at what should have been their peak years. Chagaev at least has the excuse of a debillitating blood disease, hepititus, whereas Povetkin just up and quit on himself after a great start. His brain trust has tried to remake him in the image of Teddy Atlas, but that was like a really bad hair day everyday with a future as rosy as a Viva Las Vegas Sunday morning shotgun wedding.
I like Chagaev’s experience here, but likely this is a decision and we all know judges don’t always respect the sweet science as much as they do cushy offciating assignments. Any close decision is likely to go to Povetkin who has no such health restrictions in making fights as does Chagaev with his blood testing woes.
Be nice for the division and future development of boxing in Russia if these guys put forth a dynamic bout, but their current realty is more like a sedentary effort suffices.
It’s gonna be up to Helenius and Liakhovich to salvage the card, but regardless, Helenius looks to be a headliner for the next few years, so there you have it, new talent rising and old talent falling off as it should be.