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Alexander Povetkin on Ruslan Chagaev: “I think this will be a real battle.” By Anson Wainwright

Ever since his amateur days, Alexander “Sasha” Povetkin has been labeled the saviour of the heavyweight division. It wasn’t hard to understand why after an outstanding amateur career that not only culminated in winning gold at the 2004 Olympics in the super heavyweight division but also included gold at the 2003 World Championships while twice becoming European champion in 2002 and 2004. Povetkin had long been the standout heavyweight (a record of 125-7 with all the losses avenged) before he entered the paid ranks in 2005. He moved quickly, beating a string of solid journeymen and fringe contenders, posting a shutout decision win over American Larry Donald before stopping Chris Byrd in 11 rounds in late 2007. Povetkin followed that with a points win over then-unbeaten Eddie Chambers in an IBF eliminator. However, just as he was on the brink of stardom, things went wrong for Povetkin and for various reasons including injury, a much-anticipated fight with Wladimir Klitschko was postponed and then cancelled. Povetkin, 31, has brought in Teddy Atlas to help and refine his style and technique; however, the level of opposition has dropped off, leading the still-undefeated Povetkin, 21-0 (15), to be criticised in some quarters. Finally, this weekend, he gets the chance to answer his critics when he meets former world champion Ruslan Chagaev for the vacant WBA heavyweight title (Wladimir Klitschko is the WBA “super“ champion). A win would prove that Povetkin and his team knew what they were doing all along. A defeat would add credence to his detractors who feel he went stale and missed the boat to the greatness he had long promised.

Anson Wainwright - You will meet Ruslan Chagaev on August 27 for the vacant WBA heavyweight title. What are your thoughts on that fight and what do you think of Chagaev?
Alexander Povetkin - This will be an interesting fight. I really look forward to it. Chagaev is a man with a lot of experience. He already has been world champion as a pro. He would like to fight against Klitschko again. I would like to fight him too. He’s like me; he is always going forward. I think this will be a real battle.
AW - We haven’t seen you in action since last December. Could you tell us why you haven’t fought since then and what you have done with your time?
AP - I injured my hand during the last fight. It took some time to recover but I’ve stayed all the time active. I was running a lot and I’ve made a lot of strength training.
AW - Could you tell us about your team? Who is your manager, trainer and promoter? Also, at what gym do you train? Could you tell us about your training camp for this fight?
AP - My managers are Mr. Wilfried Sauerland and Mr Vladimir Khryunov. My trainer is Teddy Atlas and my promoter is Sauerland Event. I use to train in my hometown in Chekhov. We have a very good gym there; it’s completely new. I have already had a training camp in USA with my trainer Teddy Atlas in June. Then I went back to Chekhov. I train here the whole time. Last Friday, we’ve started with sparring and will continue until leaving to Germany one week before the fight.
AW - Could you tell us what Atlas has helped you improve?
AP - He has shown me a lot of new things, techniques and tactics, so that I was able to improve my whole boxing style.
AW - You were born in Kursk, Russia. Can you tell us about your early years growing up in Russia and the path you took into boxing?
AP - There is not so much I can tell you. I was growing up like most of the Russian kids. I’ve tried many kinds of sports but in the end, my father brought me to boxing. I liked it and I decided to go this way also professionally.
AW - You won gold at the 2004 Olympics. What was it like to fight for your country and win the gold medal?
AP - It was a difficult way to get there but it’s, of course, amazing! It’s the highest goal of each amateur sportsman to win a gold medal at the Olympics and I’m very proud that I did it for my country.
AW - Can you tell us about yourself as a person? What do you like to do when you’re not boxing? What are your hobbies and interests?
AP - I’m a quite simple guy. I love it to spend time with my family and friends, especially with my daughter. She’s amazing and so sweet; she’s playing tennis. I used to drive a motorbike but I didn’t do it since a long, long time. I didn’t really have the time and it’s a dangerous hobby, not the best for a professional boxer.
AW - How do you think the Vitali Klitschko-Tomasz Adamek fight will go?
AP - This will be an interesting fight. I think Adamek is a really good boxer.
AW - Over the summer, David Haye fought Wladimir Klitschko. What did you think of that fight?
AP - I saw it and I liked the fight. They both were fighting really tough. David tried his best to get into the short distance to Klitschko and I think he was leading on points the first three rounds but then he lost his flow...
AW - You were scheduled to fight Wladimir Klitschko previously but you were injured in your preparation for the fight. Could you tell us why, from your point of view, you’ve not fought Wladimir Klitschko?
AP - It’s quite simple; the first time, I had got a very bad injury of my foot and the second time, there have been a lot of discussions regarding the contract, gloves and a lot of other things, so that finally this fight has also been cancelled. This was not my fault and not my decision.
AW – Finally, do you have a message for the heavyweight division?
AP - I’m looking forward to the fight on August 27th against Ruslan Chagaev and I’ll give my best to take the world title home with me!


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