ERFURT, Germany -- Unbeaten Russian Alexander Povetkin
pounded Chris Byrd until the American's father threw in the towel
in the 11th round Saturday night.
The 2004 Olympic champion took a step toward fighting world
champion Wladimir Klitschko, winning the bloody IBF elimination
fight in which Byrd's white trunks were smeared in blood from both
Povetkin had the fight wrapped up when Byrd's father, Joe, threw
in the towel with 1:52 gone in the round to stop his son from
taking any more punishment.
The two fighters, who possess both hand speed and a variety of
punches, threw punches at a rate rarely seen in a heavyweight
fight. The sixth round was so fierce, the crowd broke into wild
Povetkin (14-0, 11 knockouts), touted as a future champion,
faced his toughest test yet against the two-time world champion,
who lost the IBF title to Wladimir Klitschko in April 2006.
"The fight was tough, very tough. He was very experienced,"
Povetkin said. "I couldn't land my blows the way I wanted."
But the Russian threw so many punches that a lot landed,
although Byrd also tagged him with lefts.
Povetkin will face the winner of the Nov. 2 a fight between
Eddie Chambers and Calvin Brock. The survivor will then meet
Klitschko for the title.
But the 28-year-old Russian said he was less interested in
Klitschko than how he would fare against the 37-year-old Byrd, a
fighter he grew up admiring.
"For me, the victory was just to prove something for myself,"
Povetkin said. "Even as a youth I was enthusiastic about the way
Byrd couldn't get off the ropes during many of the early rounds,
and though they traded shots, Povetkin clearly was handing out more
punishment than the light-hitting American, whose last knockout
dates back to 2002.
After the sixth round, Byrd's 13-year-old son, Justin, implored
in the corner, "Don't lay in there," and his father replied
"Easier said than done."
Byrd said he had no intention of retiring after his loss to the
Russian followed Klitschko -- a Ukrainian -- beating him twice and
taking away his WBO as well as IBF title.
"I've got to lose to an American before I retire," Byrd said.
"But he [Povetkin] is a good one, he will win the title. I won two
titles, so I'm not jealous."
The fight, though still fast, slowed down after the sixth as
Povetkin learned some lessons against his toughest opponent yet.
"He is a very good defensive fighter. It didn't make sense for
me to keep throwing punches like that," the Russian said of the
torrid early pace.