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Aleksandr Povetkin versus Ruslan Chagaev for the WBA title
There hasn't been much heavyweight boxing action since Tyson Fury beat Dereck Chisora on July 23rd and many boxing fans, including myself, were starting to get impatient. Luckily Aleksandr Povetkin and Rusland Chagaev will fix that when they face each other tonight in Messenhalle, Erfurt.

At stake is the WBA World Heavyweight title, which is only up for grabs because the old champion, Wladimir Klitschko, has been upgraded to "super" champion, as though he has collected some sort of power-up. Klitschko's upgrade leaves the WBA title both devalued and vacant.

Titles aside, this is a fight that shows promise. Chagaev and Poevetkin are ranked #1 and #2 contenders respectively by the WBA, and most ranking lists aren't much different. There are two stories at play in this fight - we have Aleksandr Povetkin, who is undefeated but relatively untested; and Ruslan Chagaev, who has faced the best but came up short.

Most agree with and are excited about the promise Povetkin shows. He is thirty one and will approach his peak very soon, so it is just as well that he is starting to get the big fights. If he beats Chagaev not only will it win him his first world title, but it will put him in the prime spot to face one of the Klitschkos. There is a problem though - he hasn't fought any of the top heavyweights.

Aleksandr Povetkin's record: A lesser class of opposition

Most recently, Povetkin has fought, and beat, Nicolai Firtha, Teke Oruh, Javier Mora and Leo Nolan. Do any of these fighters set you ablaze with excitement? Probably not. They don't rank very high either; Boxrec has them either retired or well out of the top 50 boxing heavyweights.

In fairness to Povetkin, he was out of action for a long time due to a nasty injury. After nine months out, he returned to the ring on April 4th 2009 to beat Jason Estrada. Prior to this, Povetkin fought a couple of tough opponents in Eddie Chambers and Chris Byrd. So he has shown he has it in him to beat a top ten fighter (Chambers), the problem is that he hasn't done it recently. In fighting Chagaev, Povetkin certainly has something he wants to prove.

Chagaev is bouncing back

Ruslan Chagaev is only one year older than Povetkin but he has much more professional experience. Not only has he fought eight more times than his rival, he has also beaten opponents of a far greater quality. Men such as Matt Skelton and Nikolay Valuev have met Chagaev in the ring and lost. "White Tyson" has also fought one of the Klitschkos - he lost to Wladimir Klitschko two years ago, a barrage of Klitschko's punches forcing him to retire at the end of ninth round.

Chagaev followed his defeat to Klitschko with two solid, though underwhelming, wins over journeymen Kali Meehan and Travis Walker. He didn't look his best in either of the fights, and it may have been a good idea for him to fight someone a bit better than them before agreeing to face Povetkin. Chagaev doesn't seem fully recovered from his loss to Klitschko yet and this is what will tip the balance in his fight with Povetkin.

Aleksandr Povetkin - Ruslan Chagaev: Prediction

Neither of the two have an especially good knockout record, with Chagaev on 17 out of 27 and Povetkin 15 out of 21. We are going to see a points win tonight, and I think Povetkin looks fitter, better conditioned and more motivated. He is going to step into the ring with one eye on destroying Chagaev and the other on the Klitschkos, and this drive is what will win him the fight. Aleksandr Povetkin to win.

Who is your money on? Do you think Chagaev will be back at his best and win the fight? Or will Povetkin just be too much for him?

Also on the card:

  • Robert Helenius (15-0  10KOs) takes on Siarhei Liakhovich (25-3  16KOs) for the WBA and WBO Intercontinental heavyweight titles
  • Artur Hein (14-1  8KOs) fights Tony Averlant (15-5  3KOs) with the EBU-EU light heavyweight title at stake
  • Marcos Nader (11-0  1KO) VS Gianmario Grassellni (19-4  10KOs)  - middleweight
  • Dominik Britisch (24-0  9KOs) VS Steven Bendall (29-5  14KOs) - middleweight
  • David Graf (3-0  3KOs) VS Viktor Szalai (16-35  4KOs) - cruiserweight

Some more fight talk: