FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE
These Russian world champions might be rooting for Alexander Povetkin this weekend
1. KOSTYA TSZYU
Though more commonly associated with Australia, the heavy-handed ‘Thunder from Down Under’ was born in Serov, Russia, and used a lot of traits from the Soviet Union amateur style to become the WBA, WBC and IBF super-lightweight champion of the world.
2. SERGEY KOVALEV
Kovalev ripped the WBO light-heavyweight title from Nathan Cleverly in 2013, and then added the IBF and WBA belts to the collection with a thorough thrashing of Bernard Hopkins the following year. A big puncher, Kovalev eventually came unstuck against Andre Ward.
3. DENIS LEBEDEV
A WBA and IBF world champion at cruiserweight, hard-nosed Lebedev has lost just twice in 33 fights (to Marco Huck and Murat Gassiev), both split decisions.
4. YURI ARBACHAKOV
Based in Japan, Arbachakov won the WBC flyweight title in 1992 and went on to make nine defences of the title, all in Japan, before losing it in ’97. He never fought again.
5. MURAT GASSIEV
Recently given a boxing lesson by Oleksandr Usyk, this knockout artist from Vladikavkaz had previously stopped the likes of Yunier Dorticos and Krzysztof Wlodarczyk en route to WBA and IBF cruiserweight titles.
6. DMITRY PIROG
Forced to prematurely retire because of a recurring back injury, Pirog, a WBO world middleweight champion, is best remembered for knocking out Daniel Jacobs in brutal fashion in 2010.
7. NIKOLAY VALUEV
Valuev, the seven-foot ‘Beast from the East’, was considered a heavyweight gimmick for a long time, but this didn’t stop him claiming the WBA heavyweight title and defending it four times, losing only to Ruslan Chagaev and David Haye.
8. ROMAN KARMAZIN
15 years ago, Karmazin ventured to London to outclass David Walker for a European title. After that, he beat Kassim Ouma to win an IBF super-welterweight title.
9. RUSLAN PROVODNIKOV
Fan favourite Provodnikov, an exponent of the art of take-one-to-give-one, achieved his crowning moment in 2013, when forcing Mike Alvarado to retire after 10 rounds of a WBO super-lightweight title fight.
10. DENIS INKIN
Following an extensive amateur career, Inkin outpointed Fulgencio Zuniga in 2008 to win the WBO world super-middleweight title – Joe Calzaghe’s old belt – only to then lose it in his very first defence.