In a terrific heavyweight between the 40 year old former WBA champion Alexander Povetkin and former cruiserweight Michael Hunter, neither youth nor experience was served as the judges scored the fight a split draw. One card went to each fighter at 115-113, the third card ended up 114-114 on the Ruiz-Joshua 2 undercard in Diriyah,Riyahd, Saudi Arabia.
Povetkin (35-2), six years removed from holding the WBA title, was hoping to remain relevant in the suddenly resurgent heavyweight division.
Hunter (18-2) left the cruiserweight division after losing a unanimous decision to Oleksandr Usyk in 2017. Since then, he’s fought six times at the higher class, scoring four knockouts against mostly decent competition. A defeat of Povetkin would have moved him up the ladder of the division he only recently joined.
There were early fireworks in round one as Hunter fired off an electrifying series of combinations that seemed to unmoor Povetkin. To add insult to injury, Hunter finished off the fistic stanza by tossing Povetkin to the canvas.
Hunter landed a hard right that drove Povetkin into the ropes in the first minute of the second. Hunter largely dominated the round before taking a hard right from Povetkin with less than 20 seconds to go in the round – forcing a clinch by Hunter.
Povetkin built upon his strong close in the second to stabilize the fight in rounds 3 and 4. Povetkin has always been a resourceful, polished fighter. He may be old, but he clearly isn’t faded. His experience showed after the first two rounds.
In the 5th, Povetkin landed a hard left hook that sent Hunter stumbling into the ropes that could have been called a knockdown. Hunter wasn’t just off balance, he was stung.
Povetkin took much of round 6 off. Hunter made him pay with a sharp right in the last minute of the round that forced a clinch from the older man.
Round 7 was perhaps the best of the fight, with both men trading at will inside the final minute. While both men were shook, Hunter clearly got the better of the exchange.
The pace slowed in round 8, but Hunter was the more active man and closed the round with a hard straight left right on Povetkin’s button. Round 9 was more of the same with Povetkin looking more and more gassed and Hunter landing almost all the notable blows.
Povetkin used wile and guile to reassert himself in the 10th. Getting in close, landing good shots to the body, and clinching after connecting.
Hunter had a huge round 11, landing clean combinations that wobbled Povetkin, moving him all over the ring. Povetkin has one hell of a chin, but one brutal left hook to the body stopped him in his tracks.
The final round found two very tired fighters getting sloppy. At one point they got so tangled up that they fell on top of each other. Hunter seemed the more exhausted if the two, but he seemed to land the more obvious blows.
While the fight may not have ended with a winner, both men acquitted themselves extremely well. Povetkin isn’t getting any younger, but if he was hoping to remain in heavyweight title bout consideration, he certainly did that. Andy Hunter surely improved his stature in the weight class.
In a solid – if not exactly scintillating – ten round heavyweight contest – Dillian Whyte won a unanimous decision over Mariusz Wach, with one card coming it at 98-93 and the other two at 97-93 on the Ruiz-Joshua 2 undercard in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia.
Coming off a failed PED test, British, by way of Jamaica, heavyweight contender Whyte looked to re-insert himself into title fight conversations by taking on the 39 year old Polish veteran, who once went the distance with Wladimir Klitschko).
In a battle of two hefty fellas—both tipped the scales at just over 270 pounds—Whyte’s higher level of activity and accuracy carried the day.
Rounds 1-4 were controlled by Whyte’s superior level of skill. Wach (35-5) began to find the mark during the back half of the 5th, landing some hard rights upstairs.
Whyte (26-1) took the upper hand in rounds 6 and 7 with accurate punching and greater consistency. Wach closed round 8 with a couple of nice shots as Whyte’s defense became more and more lax throughout the evening.
Round 9 was competitive with Wach landing the crisper punches. Whyte went back to his corner looking gassed, holding the top rope as he made his way to his stool. Whyte seemed to find an extra mini-gear in the tenth with a very active final round before the fight went to the scorecards.
Widely seen as the 5th best heavyweight in the division, Whyte is looking to break through and get another title shot, his only loss coming at the fists of Anthony Joshua in 2015 by TKO.
Wach is in full opponent mode now. His last two matches were against fighters with a combined record of 8-35. He had lost three bouts before that in consecutive order, two by TKO.
This was clearly a “keep busy” fight for Whyte and his less than svelte physique seemed to betray a certain level of motivation that one would not describe as “high.”
If Whyte was hoping to be impressive and whet the appetites of fight fans for a title shot, I’m not sure he did that. However, he did win the fight clearly and maybe the silver lining is he didn’t scare anyone in the top tier away. Maybe that’s enough to get him there.
Dillian Whyte quotes post-fight
On his performance: “I boxed nowhere near my standard. I’ve been off for six months and people have been screwing me left and right for the last six months. My mind hasn’t been in the right place but I carried on training. I took this fight on three weeks’ notice, came in about a stone and half overweight but with my defense and stuff, I knew I could get through him. I wanted to stop him but he’s tough. It’s just good to be back in there. Everyone has been screwing me apart from a handful of people. I’ve been through hell these past couple of months but we are here!”
On being relieved that his drug testing situation was resolved: “Everyone was treating me like a hero for beating Oscar Rivas to then be treated like a nobody. My team, Eddie and Sky stuck by me. Sorry guys for not getting the knockout but like I said, I feel great to have even made it to the fight because where I was two or three months ago was a dark place. I thought about walking away from boxing. A few times I thought, ‘You know, I’ve made a bit of money, I can take it, run off into the night and live my life.’”
Croatian heavyweight prospect Filip Hrgovic improved to 10-0 with a battering of American journeyman Eric Molina that ended with a KO in round three in Saudi Arabia, underneath Ruiz-Joshua 2 on Saturday.
Hrgovic appeared to score a knockdown in round one after a hard left to Molina’s body left him with only the ropes to support him. Hrgovic continued his onslaught until Molina did go to a knee. For some reason the referee did not score it so and Molina survived the round.
Hrgovic then put Molina down again in the second..
..but the referee again (and even more mysteriously) didn’t score a knockdown. Molina showed some toughness landing a couple of good shots in the round before Hrgovic put Molina down again with a body shot that was finally scored as a knockdown. Had Molina not spit his mouthpiece out, he likely would not have made it out of the round.
In the third, Hrgovic landed a hard shot to the back of Molina’s head that ended the fight as the Texan could not beat the ten count. Molina complained about getting hit to the back of the head repeatedly in the fight, but that was largely due to him leaning forward and making the back of his noggin the only available target.
Molina is one of those solid B level opponents who has typically lost every time he’s been in the ring with a top-flight fighter (although his KO of Thomas Adamek is a notable exception). Having fought twice for the heavyweight title (suffering KO losses to Wilder and Joshua) he was a solid step-up opponent for Hrgovic, even if at 37, Molina is more than a bit long in the tooth.
Hrgovic looks like a legit future contender. Long, strong, and methodical, the top tier of the division will want to be careful with this guy if they invite him into the ring.
Filip Hrgovic on not getting credit for the early knockdowns: “He was turning away a lot but those were all regular punches.”
On what he wants next: “I think I am ready for everyone. I want to fight the biggest names in the division, that’s been my wish from the beginning. I hope that some of these warriors will accept a fight with this young guy from Croatia.”
On his championship prospects: “Everything can happen. I believe I can be the heavyweight champion in the next few fights. I may never become world champion. This is boxing, this is a dangerous sport but I am very confident of my skills and my team.”
Three-time amateur heavyweight champion and Olympic bronze medalist from Azerbaijan, heavyweight Mahammadrasgul Majidov made short work of England’s Tom Little by scoring a second round TKO against the Brit in Saudi Arabia on Saturday.
Entering the ring, Little’s greatest claim to fame was probably being a sparring partner for Lennox Lewis – although after this performance he might also be known for having the worst nickname in boxing: Tom “Not So” Little?
Majidov showed his quality amateur pedigree early and often against “Not So,” going upstairs and down, working his jab, and showing some power too in a solid first round. Majidov asserted himself further in the second by scoring an early knockdown with a straight right hand. Little managed to regain his feet, but the die was cast at that point, and after continued punishment at the accurate haves of Majidov, the referee mercifully stopped the contest at the 1:49 mark.
Majidov is clearly skilled, but he’s running up against a fast clock. Majidov is already 33 years old. Ancient for a guy with only two fights under his belt despite his esteemed amateur background. Still, he’s a real talent. If he keeps a busy schedule, quickly gets to 8-0 against better competition, it would not be hard to see him getting a title shot.
Majidov on his performance: “I am happy today to be here. This is a very good arena, very good people here and this is a great country. What I want to say though – my opponent is a very good guy. I have a ton of respect for him.” And on whether he can continue his amateur success as a professional: “My style is professional boxing. For a long time I have wanted to come to the professional boxing ranks. I have a little problem getting there but now my manager has helped me get here.”