For the third time in three fights, there will be a new voice in the corner of heavyweight titlist Alexander Povetkin.
Kostya Tszyu, the Hall of Fame former undisputed junior welterweight champion, is training Povetkin for the third defense of his second-tier title against mandatory challenger and former world champion Hasim Rahman on Sept. 29 (Epix and EpixHD.com) in Hamburg, Germany.
Povetkin spent a few years with Teddy Atlas -- also ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights" ringside analyst -- as his head trainer, and together they won a vacant belt via unanimous decision against former titleholder Ruslan Chagaev in August 2011. Atlas' impassioned words between rounds helped drive Povetkin through a very tough fight.
Atlas was with Povetkin for his first defense, a walkover eighth-round knockout of overmatched Cedric Boswell in December in Finland, but then came their split. It was caused by a disagreement over where Povetkin should train. Povetkin, or rather his handlers, wanted to remain in his native Russia. Atlas, who wanted him to train in the United States, said their agreement was that Povetkin would train in the U.S. during Atlas' "Friday Night Fights" season, and that Atlas would go to Russia if there was a fight during the show's offseason.
When Povetkin (24-0, 16 KOs) wouldn't come to the U.S., that was it for their relationship, and Atlas was replaced by Russian trainer Alexander Zimin on somewhat short notice. With Zimin in the corner, Povetkin struggled to a controversial decision win Feb. 25 against cruiserweight titlist Marco Huck, who had moved up for the shot.
And now Zimin is out and Tszyu is in to train Povetkin for the fight with Rahman (50-7-2, 41 KOs), which was supposed to have taken place July 14 but was postponed because Rahman had to have a cyst removed from his wrist.
"I am very happy with my new coach," Povetkin said. "We have a great relationship. I can learn a lot from Kostya Tszyu. I have already improved my stamina while training under his supervision in my hometown of Chekhov. I am feeling really good.
"I promise you that I will be in great shape and will deliver an amazing fight in Hamburg. I am not going to let anyone down. But you should never underestimate a mandatory challenger. Rahman wants to win, but so do I."