Tuesday, June 29, 2010
W. Klitschko to fight Povetkin in fall
By Dan Rafael
Heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko will face mandatory challenger Alexander Povetkin in September in Germany after K2 Promotions, the company owned by Klitschko and his brother, fellow heavyweight titleholder Vitali Klitschko, won a purse bid Tuesday at the IBF headquarters in East Orange, N.J.
K2 Promotions bid $8,313,000 to easily beat the only other bidder, Povetkin promoter Sauerland Event, which offered $4,250,001. With the split going 75 percent for the champion and 25 percent for the challenger under IBF rules, Klitschko is entitled to $6,234,750 and Povetkin $2,078,250.
Going into the bid, it seemed unlikely that Sauerland Event could win the bid since it would have to give up 75 percent of the money.
K2 Promotions has 90 days to put on the fight and is planning for it to take place Sept. 11 or Sept. 18, probably in Frankfurt, Germany.
"We don't know exactly when or where yet because we are waiting to hear from the soccer league in Germany to tell us which dates the stadiums are available," Klitschko adviser Shelly Finkel told ESPN.com.
The fight between Olympic gold medalists -- Klitschko won for Ukraine in the 1996 Atlanta Games and Povetkin for Russia in the 2004 Athens Games -- is long overdue.
Povetkin (19-0, 14 KOs) has been the mandatory challenger since outpointing American Eddie Chambers in a competitive fight in Germany in a January 2008 title eliminator.
K2 had won a previous purse bid and the fight was scheduled to take place in December 2008. However, Povetkin withdrew after suffering a foot injury when he tripped over a tree root while running during training. Klitschko, 34, instead faced former champion Hasim Rahman and easily knocked him out in the seventh round.
They were planning the fight for a second time to take place at the end of 2009, but this time it was Klitschko who was injured. He hurt his shoulder during a lopsided 10th-round knockout of Ruslan Chagaev last June, needed surgery and did not fight for the rest of the year.
When Klitschko (54-3, 48 KOs) returned in March, it was for a WBO mandatory title defense, in which he dominated Chambers en route to a crushing 12th-round knockout. Klitschko will be making the ninth defense of his second title reign against Povetkin.
Klitschko had hoped to next face belt-holder David Haye of England to further unify titles. The IBF's rules allow unification fights to supersede mandatory bouts and Haye was available and in negotiations with K2. Haye has been relentless calling out and verbally attacking Klitschko and his brother, but ultimately declined a deal to fight Wladimir.
Klitschko's camp said it offered Haye the deal he wanted, a 50-50 financial split without options on any of his future bouts, but the offer was spurned and they moved on to Povetkin.
"We're happy to have won the purse bid and now we're looking forward to promoting the fight," said Tom Loeffler, the managing director of K2 Promotions. "Povetkin has been the mandatory challenger for some time. He's a high-quality contender and he's undefeated. Wladimir is happy to get this out of the way since it is his obligation to the IBF and because Haye isn't interested in fighting either of the brothers any time soon."
Sauerland Event said it would have been fine delaying the mandatory with Klitschko for him to fight Haye because it wanted to give Povetkin more time to adjust to being trained by Teddy Atlas, the ESPN ringside analyst for "Friday Night Fights" who now heads Povetkin's corner. But once the Klitschko-Haye talks went nowhere, K2 asked the IBF to order a purse bid since it did not feel it could make a deal with Sauerland Event.
"I think this is a great fight, the best one out there for the heavyweight division at this point with Haye not available," Finkel said. "With Haye not available, I don't know any other fight in the heavyweight division that would be better."
Povetkin (19-0, 14 KOs), 30, is coming off a fifth-round knockout of Javier Mora on March 13 in Germany, his second bout under Atlas' tutelage.
There are no set television plans for the fight in the United States, but HBO's Ross Greenburg told ESPN.com that the network, which has televised numerous Klitschko fights and also aired Povetkin-Chambers, has no plans to buy the fight.
Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.