It was hardly a performance to redeem what has taken place over the past year or so, but it was enough to remind the boxing world that—for better or for worse—Alexander Povetkin remains a top heavyweight contender.
The 2004 Olympic Gold medalist and former secondary heavyweight titlist enjoyed his first win of 2017, scoring a 12-round unanimous decision over Andriy Rudenko in a a monotonous affair Saturday evening in Moscow, Russia.
Scores of 120-108 (twice) and 120-109 were perhaps a bit too lopsided in favor of the winner, but still telling of what took place in the marquee attraction.
The bout was Povetkin's first since once again coming up dirty in the World Boxing Council (WBC) Clean Boxing Program, with his second failed drug test of 2016 surfacing in the days leading up to a scheduled December '16 date with Bermane Stiverne. He instead wound up facing very late replacement Johann Duhauapas, whom he stopped in six rounds before having to face the music on the legal front.
It marked his second time on the year in which he made headlines for all of the wrong reasons, although his name was cleared to a degree in the ugly aftermath of his failed drug test that led to the cancelation of his planned challenge of WBC heavyweight titlist Deontay Wilder last May. Subsequent tests showed that the amount of lingering Meldonium in his system were lower than the amount that would normally trigger a positive test result, lending credence to his argument that it was the final traces of the substance that he admittedly used prior to it landing on the banned list in Jan. '16.
Once again fully enrolled in the Clean Boxing Program, Povetkin was clean as a whistle heading into his latest ring adventure. Unfortunately, the contest was anything but that as it nearly ended in anti-climactic fashion. Rudenko sought a disqualification win after complaining of a severely injured neck produced from rabbit punches.
The 33-year old Ukrainian was instead granted time to recover and continue, which he did after realizing he wasn't going to be handed a victory. The visiting fringe contender fought relatively well considering his head and neck resembled that of a human turtle shell, having his say a little bit at a time in the majority of the rounds.
His efforts went unrecognized by the judges, save for an even round on one card as Povetkin managed to do just a little bit more each round to ensure victory. The 37-year old Russian advances to 32-1 (23KOs), having now won six straight since the lone loss of his career—a 12-round defeat in his failed title bid of then World heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko in their Oct. '13 clash of Olympic Gold medalists that took place in front of 50,000 fans in Moscow.
Rudenko falls to 31-3 (19KOs), snapping a seven-fight win streak which followed back-to-back decision defeats to unbeaten heavyweights Lucas Browne and Hughie Fury.
The bout aired live on Все на бокс (VSE NA Box) in Russia and online through the company's legal streaming service.