Russian star and former heavyweight belt holder Alexander Povetkin is back in action tonight, in his first fight of this year; his second fight since failing two pre-fight drugs tests.
The 37 year old faces durable Andriy Rodenko and Povetkin has told Russian media how he hopes for a shot at Anthony Joshua, the current WBA/IBF heavyweight ruler. Povetkin says he is in no way looking past Rodenko, but that he has his eyes firmly on the unbeaten AJ.
Normally such a fight or match-up would make sense: two top class heavyweights, both of whom won an Olympic gold medal – Povetkin back in 2004, A J in 2012. But the Povetkin situation is far from normal. As fans know, there is a big black cloud of a question mark hanging over Povetkin. Can the former champ ever truly be trusted again?
Failing one drugs test is bad enough; failing two is terrible. The big fight Povetkin should have had with WBC king Deontay Wilder – the biggest test yet, as this fight would have been for the unbeaten Wilder – fell apart as a result, and now Povetkin is hoping to get Joshua.
In all honesty, Povetkin’s chances look pretty slim, and they would do so even without the controversy of the failed tests. Joshua has far bigger, more important fights on his radar: the return with Wladimir Klitschko (the only man to have beaten Povetkin), his mandatory with Kubrat Pulev, a monster showdown with Wilder and, if he comes back, an even bigger super-fight with Tyson Fury.
Why would Joshua even look Povetkin’s way? Would you if you were AJ or his promoter Eddie Hearn?
Povetkin should win tonight, he may even KO Rudenko; but even so, the Russian hero will still have some ways to go before he convinces the majority of fight fans that he can be trusted. Once a cheat always a cheat?
Maybe this is the way plenty of people will think when it comes to Povetkin. It’s a shame because Povetkin is a talented and exciting fighter. Of course, Povetkin is far from the only big name boxer to have failed a drugs test; but the fact that he did so twice really hurts him.