There is heavyweight action on tap tonight at Messehalle in Erfurt, Germany as highly regarded former Olympic Gold medallist Alexander Povetkin gets his first shot at a world title, meeting Ruslan Chagaev for the vacant WBA heavyweight crown.
A pro since 1997, 32 year old southpaw Chagaev, 27-1-1 (17), will hold the edge in experience against Russia's Povetkin.
Hamburg, Germany based Uzbek Chagaev held the WBA strap over two defenses from 2007-2009 before being stripped for injury related inactivity and suffered his only defeat in 2009 at the hands of IBF, WBO and IBO kingpin Wladimir Klitschko in 2009.
Since that time Chagaev decisioned Kali Meehan in a WBA title eliminator in May, 2010 before having a difficult time in outpointing Travis Walker in an eight rounder this past November.
Povetkin, 31, joined the paid ranks in 2005 after capturing Gold as a super heavyweight at the Athens Olympics and began to face experienced campaigners in just his seventh pro bout.
The Chekov resident faced his best opposition to date in 2007, stopping former champion Chris Byrd and in 2008 with a points verdict over contender Eddie Chambers during a IBF title eliminator.
Long ticking over awaiting an IBF title bid that never came against Wladimir Klitschko, Povetkin has faced lesser opposition since the Chambers victory, most recently decisioning Nicolai Firtha this past December.
When the bell rings tonight in Erfurt, both Povetkin and Chagaev will likely start slow having to shake off the accumulated ring rust but the second half of the bout should feature a very tight contest between two of the best pure boxers in the division.
Neither Chagaev or Povetkin have one-punch KO power so this one should go the distance in a truly 50-50 fight.
Povetkin likely has the faster hands and will have the confidence of an undefeated professional but Chagaev is the more seasoned man here and could dole out a boxing lesson if Povetkin isn't ready for his title fight debut.
What could be the deciding factor in this contest is who will best marshal their energy reserves to produce a decisive late round push to sway the judges.
A very similar bout takes place on the undercard as contender Robert Helenius, 15-0 (10), squares off with former WBO champ Siarhei Liakhovich, 25-3 (16), with Helenius' WBA and WBO Intercontinental straps on offer to the winner.
Like Povetkin, towering Finn Helenius was put on the accelerated development plan and is coming off a ninth round KO former champion world Samuel Peter in April.
Belarus native Liakhovich has won two straight since losing his WBO title to Shannon Briggs in 2006 and dropping a WBA title eliminator to Nikolay Valuev in 2008.
Liakhovich could be looking at his last shortcut to another title fight and will no doubt be motivated to spoil the rapid ascent of Helenius in a fight that should, if nothing else, give a glimpse at whether or not Helenius belongs at top level.
Boxing News Tags: Athens Olympics, Belarus, Chris Byrd, Eddie Chambers, Finn Helenius, Germany, IBF, IBO, Kali Meehan, KO, Olympic Gold, Robert Helenius, Ruslan Chagaev, Russia, Samuel Peter, Shannon Briggs, Siarhei Liakhovich, Uzbek Chagaev, WBA, WBO