(Wladimir Klitschko, left; Alexander Povetkin, right)
There have been back alley assaults outside West Virginia taverns cleaner than what Wladimir Klitschko did to Alexander Povetkin Saturday in Russia on HBO en route to a 119-104 unanimous decision across the board. There have been more credible performances by WWE referees, too, than the officiating Luis Pabon "administered" Saturday.
Klitschko still was a class above Povetkin, as was expected, and he landed the cleaner punches throughout — you could maybe give Povetkin a couple rounds out of the 12. It was all the dirty business that happened in between the clean shots that had boxing fans up in arms as they watched. Klitschko technically scored four knockdowns; at least two and possibly three of them don't happen without Klitschko simply throwing Povetkin to the ground. The undisputed one came in the 2nd with Povetkin getting clipped by a short left hook. The others were all in the 7th.
Pabon eventually docked Klitschko a point in the 11th for pushing Povetkin down after two more hurls. By then, his negligence had done too much damage to Povetkin's chances. Klitschko always has abused the rulebook, using his stiff arm, holding excessively, etc. This time out he practically raped it. Anytime Povetkin got close, he held. Anytime Klitschko swung and missed, he held. Tall fighters have often pushed down on smaller fighters' necks, but Klitschko did it incessantly. And then, for good measure, he would hold Povetkin around the neck with one hand and punch him with the other.
I don't want to suggest that Povetkin was likely to win a clean fight. He had some success with his overhand right and showed a lot of heart. But he probably should've won this one because a competent referee doesn't wait until the 11th to dock a point for cheating — cumulatively, Klitschko deserved to be disqualified for everything he did. Maybe if the ref had docked him two points earlier Kitschko wouldn't have kept it up, and then maybe Povetkin would have been given a fair shot at victory, although it's not a shot he would've been able to capitalize on, I don't think. Perhaps he should've gotten nastier with his own rule-bending to dissuade Klitschko where Pabon would not, and worked with his free hand in clinches for the same purpose. On principle, he deserved that fair shot, however.
For all the concern coming in that the fight being on Povetkin's home soil of Russia would lead to some mob antics to swing it Povetkin's way, I actually uttered during the fight, "Where's the Russian mob when you need them?" Maybe they put all their money on Klitschko, and it was all an elaborate ruse, all the betting money rushing in on Povetkin.
Klitschko becomes the undisputed heavyweight champion from all this; maybe you think his alphabet straps added up to it, or the Ring belt, but the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board championship was on the line and this ought to put everyone on the same page as a result. It's just too bad that this was a performance more befitting a UFC champion than a boxing one.