Alexander Povetkin beats Christian Hammer to become Anthony Joshua's WBA mandatory challenger
By Tim Hobbs
Last Updated: 16/12/17 1:54pm
Alexander Povetkin put himself in line to face Anthony Joshua after out-pointing Christian Hammer in a final world heavyweight title eliminator on Friday night.
The Russian dominated all 12 rounds at the expectant DIVS, in Ekaterinburg, south-west Russia, and the 120-107, 120-108, 118-108 scored underlined his superiority.
Povetkin (33-1-KO23) is now the mandatory challenger for the WBA 'Super' belt Joshua won against Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley, but has not held a world title since he lost the WBA 'World' version, ironically to 'Dr Steelhammer' back in 2013.
The win also put the 38-year-old in the same position with the WBO, creating another option for champion Joseph Parker and his team, who are still locked in negotiations with Eddie Hearn over a unification fight next year.
Povetkin's two well-documented failed drugs test have seen the WBC door closed tightly, but his seventh straight success has brought him back into the heavyweight equation.
In contrast, Hammer, the Romanian who is now based in Germany, has never been beyond European title level but rarely tried to take the opportunity to step up.
Povetkin was on home soil and at least tried to entertain the crowd and send a warning out to Joshua, while Hammer hid behind his guard and was even docked a point by referee Dave Parris for holding throughout.
The 'Russian Vityaz' landed two rights early on and then in the second his left came into play and he unleashed plenty of single shots, which were accurate yet rarely opened Hammer up. Povetkin tried to get on the inside in the middle round and his uppercut slipped in and his left hook soon became his best shot.
It took Hammer six rounds to land a decent punch of his own with his right but the next round saw the home fighter land six hard shots when they were locked in a corner.
Hammer managed to grab hold but once referee Parris had warned him, it was no surprise he lost a point two rounds later, refusing to change his ways.
The ninth round saw them finally meet in the middle but with Povetkin's class in the closing stages, the rightfully one-sided scoring at least set the Russian up with a shot at Joshua - whose name was booed by the otherwise quiet crowd - next year.