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  Age Ain’t Nothin’ But A Number:
Povetkin Draws Deep To Stun Whyte


By Iberedem Ekure


The August 23rd Matchroom boxing main event between Alexander Povetkin and Dillian Whyte was a weird watch. It wasn’t just the absence of a crowd, I watched Shawn Porter on Premier Boxing Champions later in the evening and it didn’t feel so out of place without the throng of spectators, the setting just had something about it that was unusual. Perhaps it was a precursor for the night of upsets we were going to witness; other bouts on the card were Luther Clay defending the WBO global welterweight title against Chris Kongo and Katie Taylor defended all her belts against Delfine Persoon in a thrilling performance. I will get to these but first, Whyte vs. Povetkin: All the chatter was about Whyte’s devastating left hand, Povetkin slowing down and how this was his swan song.

The fight began with both men feeling each other out; Povetkin as expected, looking like the more skilled fighter with good movement and pressing the action. Whyte was content with sitting behind the jab and look for the right opening or just waiting for ‘old man’ Povetkin to tire himself out.

In the second round, Whyte landed a couple of good left hooks to the body as Povetkin came in to press the action. Povetkin feeling the power, made some adjustments and landed a few left hands from safe distance. The pace of the fight was still very tentative with Whyte sitting behind the jab and Povetkin stepping in, throwing two to three punches, and stepping outside.

Round three saw Whyte land a hard, left hand that stunned Povetkin but he was in no hurry to end things, allowing Povetkin the space and time to regroup and resume the coordinated in and out offense. Whyte ended the round with four landed body shots to remind Povetkin of his power.

In the fourth, Whyte landed two right crosses and a short, left hook that put Povetkin on the mat on one knee. Povetkin beat the count and Whyte again was in no hurry to close things out. Povetkin came back and landed some jabs and a left hook followed by a right hook. Whyte was unperturbed; he knew he was ahead on the scorecard and the longer this wore on, the odds were in his favor. Whyte landed a double jab to establish distance but Povetkin continued to be the aggressor, finding his way inside and unfortunately walked into a counter uppercut by Whyte which knocked Povetkin down again. A 10-7 round for Whyte and the fight was looking like it would be over in short order.

The fifth round started like the others with Povetkin coming in to press the action. He threw a sharp jab and Whyte threw a right-hand counter in response but the veteran Povetkin dipped to the left to slip the punch and landed a thudding left uppercut that knocked Whyte out. What a finish it was; Whyte made to pay for not finishing Povetkin off in rounds 3 and 4 and complicating his route to facing one of the “big three” in the heavyweight division.

A Scary Welterweight: Kongo the 6-footer defeats Clay

Almost a year ago in September, a contingent from the UK with the will and skill touched down in Florence Italy and sacked the city; Luther Clay and Sam Eggington won titles Matchroom Italy and DAZN’s fight night in Italy. August 22nd was Clay’s chance to defend his WBO Global Welterweight Title against Chris Kongo. You would be excused if you had no idea who Chris Kongo was; The undefeated London fighter had not fought in 16 months and it is not surprising. Kongo is one of the most avoided welterweights in the UK. He is a bad match-up for anyone in the division at 6ft tall. Nobody with anything to lose would want to gamble on a fight against him so this chance to get some leather around his waist and attract the big matchups was a lot of motivation.

Kongo opened the fight as the aggressor looking to impose his will on the champion Clay while Clay looked to work the body early and weaken the taller Kongo. Kongo used his jab to good effect and Clay landed a right hand to the body at the end of the round. As the bell rang, Clay seemed to taunt Kongo with shouts of “wake up”.

In the second, Kongo sought to keep the champion Clay at bay with the jab, but Clay found ways to get inside and throw body shots. The fight was being fought on the inside where Clay had the upper hand. With Kongo’s height he did not need to be getting dragged into a brawl.

The third and fourth rounds were better from Kongo. He did a good job maintaining the distance with his jab although he continued to eat counter punches from Clay to the body. Kongo’s timing improved allowing him to stay on the outside and come in periodically with sharp combinations. At the end of the fourth, Kongo’s trainer, the formidable Jim McDonnell told his fighter not to go looking for Clay.

Kongo took his trainer’s advice in the fifth and fought on the back foot. He caught Clay with an overhand right that wobbled the Champion and followed it up with a left hook. Kongo then had Clay against the ropes and landed a flurry of hooks, but Clay weathered the storm and tied Kongo up. Clay then landed a big right hook and a few body shots. The round ended with Kongo back to fighting on the back foot.

Rounds six to eight saw Kongo use his reach well and maintain distance with the jab. Clay continued to play the chasing game having mixed success. Clay seemed to get frustrated in the sixth and landed a couple of punches with Kongo’s back turned. Clay was not able to throw enough combinations in the instances he was able to get on the inside.

In the ninth round, Clay started out looking to be the aggressor, but Kongo caught Clay on the counter and followed up with combinations of hooks and uppercuts against the ropes. Clay again weathered the storm and with less than thirty seconds to go in the round, Clay walked into a left hook as he stalked Kongo and that put Clay on the mat. Clay’s corner threw in the towel and the referee ended the fight. Chris Kongo became the new WBO global welterweight champion. I look forward to seeing more of the young man.



 

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