Alexander Povetkin (34-1) comes to the UK for a second time on September 22 to face unified world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua (21-0) at Wembley Stadium.
Povetkin has worked his way up the heavyweight rankings but how much do we know about the Russian powerhouse who only visited our shores for the first time in March? BBN dug up some interesting facts about the visitor:
1. Povetkin started out life as a kickboxer, winning a world title at the age of 20 – world junior title in 1997, world senior in 1999 and a European title in 2000 – before embarking on a highly successful amateur boxing career.
2. He won gold at every major amateur tournament – 2002 and 2004 European Championships; 2003 Bangkok World Championships and Athens 2004 Olympic Games – and ended his astounding amateur career with his record standing at an impressive 125-7 by the time he turned professional with Signed Sauerland Events in the summer of 2005. Those seven defeats were all later avenged.
3. As an amateur, he trained alongside Russian president Vladimir Putin, who was a black belt in judo.
4. Povetkin, nicknamed ‘Sasha’, began his paid career fighting in Germany and did not compete on home soil until his 10th fight, scoring an eighth KO victory over Imamu Mayfield after just 18 months experience in the pro ranks.
5. Alexander has a younger brother, Vladimir Povetkin, who won all six professional fights between 2007-2008 at light-heavyweight and cruiserweight. Both brothers were trained by Valery Belov, but Alexander has since teamed up with numerous other trainers in Teddy Atlas, Alexander Zimin, Kostya Tsyzu, Stacey McKinley and presently Ivan Kirpa.
6. Povetkin was successful in two IBF eliminators and won his first professional title in August 2011 when former intended opponent Klitschko had been upgraded to WBA “Super” champion after his win over David Haye, so he fought Ruslan Chagaev for the lesser “Regular” title, coming through a serious onslaught in the middle of the fight to claim a unanimous decision win in Germany.
7. He broke records as the highest paid Russian fighter ever when he bagged $5.8million to challenge Wladimir Klitschko for the WBA, WBO and IBF belts in front of 35,000 at Moscow’s Olympic Stadium, but was dropped four times and lost by 15 points on all the judges’ scorecards. At 6ft 2in, he was considerably outmatched in terms of height and reach, struggling to overcome the legendary Ukrainian. However, he gained credit for making it to the final bell after going down in round two and three times in round seven. It was the most popular sporting event of 2013 in Russia.
8. The ‘Russian Vityaz’ has been the subject of many controversial bans. He failed a drugs test when appointed to challenge WBC champion Deontay Wilder after testing positive for meldonium, which had only been placed on the banned list five months earlier. The WBC did not ban Povetkin after he returned a clean test two weeks later. A subsequent injury to the ‘Bronze Bomber’ saw the fight postponed a second time so the WBC instead ordered a fight for the interim title between Povetkin and Bermane Stiverne, which would be also be thrown into turmoil by another failed drugs test after Povetkin tested positive for ostarine, which is used to increase stamina and fitness.
9. In March last year, the WBC handed him a lifetime ban from any fights they sanctioned and a fine of $250,000. However, on appeal that ban was reduced to one year from the date of the failed test followed by a one-year period of probation. He has not returned a negative sample since.
10. From Chekhov, he classes himself as a Rodnovery, which is the Slavic Native Faith which is a modern Pagan religion classified as a new religious movement and even has the symbol of a Star of Rus tattooed on his left bicep.
12 Notable wins on his 35-fight record: David Price (22-4); Andriy Rudenko (31-2); Marius Wach (31-1); Mike Perez (21-1); Carlos Takam (30-1-1); Manuel Charr (26-1-2); Hasim Rahman (50-7-2); Marco Huck (34-1); Ruslan Chagaev (27-1-1); Eddie Chambers (30-0); Chris Byrd (40-3-1); Larry Donald (42-4-3).