MOSCOW, July 2. /TASS/. Former WBA heavyweight champion Alexander Povetkin (32-1, 23 KOs) of Russia defeated Andriy Rudenko (31-3, 19 KOs) of Ukraine by a twelve-round unanimous decision and seized the WBO International and WBA Continental heavyweight titles.
The judges awarded the victory to 37-year-old Povetkin 120-109, 120-108, 120-108.
"I would like to thank everyone for support, I need it," Povetkin said. "I knew that I have a strong opponent, who will not give up easily. Something did not go the way it was planned to, but this is how we get our experience. This is good, because such opponents make me stronger."
"You should ask my manager about my future plans," he said. "We will keep going, fix our mistakes and grow stronger."
The bout was nearly stopped in the first round after Rudenko began complaining of a neck injury. He eventually agreed to box on following consultations with his doctors and the organizers.
Referee Viktor Panin said Rudenko wanted to withdraw in the first round.
"Rudenko wanted to withdraw in the first round, but I persuaded him to go on with the fight. There was nothing that would require his withdrawal, he had to keep on boxing," Panin said.
CEO of the World of Boxing, Andrey Ryabinsky, told reporters that the bout was held in a friendly atmosphere.
"I was afraid that something unpleasant may take place. The last thing that we wanted is to turn the fight into something with a political message," he said. "But nothing of that kind happened, everything was friendly."
On June 27, the World Boxing Association (WBA) and the World Boxing Organization (WBO) have officially exonerated Povetkin after a doping scandal and reinstated him into their ratings.
Ryabinsky said the process of Povetkin’s reinstatement with the World Boxing Council (WBC) and the International Boxing Federation (IBF) will continue.
"Right now we will continue our battle in courts and against federations. There is WBC and IBF, and we will continue Alexander’s reinstatement," he said.
Ryabinsky told TASS that Povetkin was ready to face WBO heavyweight title holder Joseph Parker (23-0, 18 KOs) of New Zealand.
"Alexander is ready to face Parker, but more fights are needed to face (WBA title holder) Anthony Joshua. Alexander is in good shape now, but there is still room for improvement for him," Ryabinsky said.
Earlier, the WBC and the IBF suspended Povetkin from their rating, whereas the WBO refused to return the prize fighter to its ranks after he had tested positive for ostarine. The WBA did not comment on the incident, but Povetkin was not on its list.
The doping test was taken on December 6, 2016, before a match in Yekaterinburg against Canada’s Bermane Stiverne for the title of interim WBC world champion that was eventually cancelled. Prior to that, a bout between Povetkin and American boxer Deontay Wilder had been cancelled, because traces of meldonium had been found in the test.