Who says boxing would not deliver the usual thrill and excitement and surprise most of us, hardcore fanatics in this Covid-19 constrained fight environment?
Up there in Essex, UK at the Matchroom Boxing headquarters in Brentwood, underdog Russian challenger Alexander Sasha Povetkin stunned favorite Dillian Whyte with a one punch—uppercut!—knockout in the fourth round to win the WBC interim heavyweight championship.
Povetkin, spotting Whyte by two inches in height and about 40 pounds in weight, came off the canvas twice in the fourth round before landing that ponderous uppercut that put Whyte to the canvas face first unconscious to the surprise and horror of the few in attendance, including promoter Eddie Hearn.
It was somewhat eerily similar to the first Joe Louis- Max Schmeling fight where the German underdog told the press after stopping the then undefeated young American that he saw something, a flaw, in Louis fighting style and exploited it.
Povetkin who had only previously lost to Wladimir Klitschko and Anthony Josua in close and hard fought contests, said he saw how Whyte was vulnerable to an uppercut counter when he was on offensive. He said he waited for the perfect timing and it came as Whyte rushed in for the kill after scoring two knockdowns in the fateful fourth round. The burly Briton was rendered senseless as soon as Povetkin landed the punch.
In chief support, Katie Taylor and Delfine Persoon successfully recreated their classic encounter from June 1, 2019 — but this time, the unified lightweight champion earned a more convincing decision on the judge’s scorecards.
All three gave the thriller to Ireland’s Taylor, though one score at 98-93 earned shock and uproar from many onlookers while the other two, each at 96-94, reflected the fight that many witnessed a little more.
With the victory, Povetkin eliminated Whyte as the only stumbling block in the much awaited all UK showdown for heavyweight supremacy between Joshua, holder of three belts and WBC champion Tyson Fury. Fury though has to deal with former titlist Deontay Wilder first in their still to be rescheduled rubbermatch later this year.
Povetkin put himself in the mix for all the marbles next year. But he has to deal with another major stumbling block in the fast rising Ukrainian heavyweight force, Oleksander Usyk, the former undisputed cruiserweight champion.
Though they are friends outside the ring, Povetkin and Usyk would have to set aside their amity and mutual respect and fight each other to gain the position to seriously challenge for the world heavyweight championship next year.
It’s about time they meet atop the ring.
Usyk has build a reputation as a Russian spoiler from his amateur days, including an Olympic gold medal win over Artur Beterbiev in London in 2010. He won the World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight finals, all the belts including the Ring Magazine’s lineal plus the prestigious Muhammad Ali trophy symbolic of divisional supremacy over another Russian, Murat Gassiev last year.
A Russian has to stop this Ukrainian upstart “interloper” and Povetkin is it.
The question is, can he?
Meanwhile down under in Australia, the prodigious son of boxing legend Kostya Tszyu, Tim Tszyu made good on his threat to further expose Jeff Horn as nothing special as he beat him up into surrendering after eight rounds.
The 25 year old Tim put on an absolute masterclass, dominating the former WBO welterweight titlist Horn for eight rounds before Horn corner threw in the towel. With the win, Tszyu kept his WBO and Australian IBF super welterweight championship while raising his record to 16-0.
The defeat, his fifth straight proved that Jeff Horn was just a flash in the pan in his grossly overrated controversial upset WBO welterweight title win over the legendary Manny Pacquiao in 2017.
It only proved that Horn as a virtual middleweight at fight time could rough up a small great welterweight who was even physically and mentally unprepared and beat him with the support of his adoring home crowd and getting all the breaks from an inept referee.
But ranged against an equally physical and well focused and skilled welterweight foe as Terrence Crawford, Horn proved he was out of his class in losing his WBO title by TKO.
And ranged against a younger and fresher foe as Tim Tszyu at super welterweight, he was a plain nuisance.
Question has been posed on where Tim Tszyu goes from here. Is he ready for the likes of Jermell Charlo, Jeison Rosario and all those bigger names at 154 lbs.?
An intriguing prospect has arouse following his crushing win over Horn.
How about a down the road fight with Terence Crawford considering their matching performance against Horn?
Crawford himself is facing difficulties landing a named, viable opponent at 147. Some fans are urging him to make a pit stop at 154 as past illustrious welterweight champions as Sugar Ray Leonard did.
In recent pass, Shane Mosley, Floyd Mayweather and even the smaller Manny Pacquiao successfully did. In fact, Floyd did it thrice. All three came back to 147 after they made successful forays.
If Crawford wants to emulate them, a fight with Tim Tszyu would be among his options at 154 unless he deems himself ready for Charlo or Rosario.
Crawford versus Tszyu, anyone?