CARDIFF, Wales (AP) Alexander Povetkin of Russia is back on the cusp of another heavyweight world title fight after a brutal knockout of David Price on Saturday.
The WBA champion from 2011-13, Povetkin’s career stalled twice after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs in a seven-month period in 2016.
Now, he is the mandatory challenger for the WBA belt after a fifth-round stoppage of Price with a left hook that drew gasps from the estimated crowd of 78,000 inside Cardiff’s Principality Stadium.
Price was a sitting target after being hit with a right jab from Povetkin, who followed it up with a powerful left that sent the British boxer to the canvas. Price needed medical attention before getting to his feet.
Povetkin had already floored Price with a big left hook in the third round, though ended that round staggering back toward the ropes after getting hit with a left himself.
Price started his pro career with 15 straight wins but has now lost five times, four of the defeats coming against boxers who served – or would go on to serve – doping bans.
The 38-year-old Povetkin has won eight straight fights, leaving the loss on points to Wladimir Klitschko in 2013 as his only defeat in 35 bouts.
In other fights on the undercard to Anthony Joshua-Joseph Parker, WBA bantamweight champion Ryan Burnett said he broke his right hand in the third round of his unanimous points win over mandatory challenger Yonfrez Parejo, in the first defense of his belt.
Burnett threw punches almost solely with his left hand in the second half of the fight but still won easily with all three judges to extend his unbeaten professional record to 19 wins.
Parejo, of Venezuela, had previously won four straight fights after losing the interim WBA title. Yet he was outclassed by one of the rising stars of British boxing.
That used to be describe lightweight Anthony Crolla, but he is trying to just stay in the conversation at world level.
Crolla made heavy work of his unanimous points win over unheralded Mexican Edson Ramirez, fighting with a cut near his right eye from the third round. Blood covered his face for large parts of an uneventful fight.
A former WBA champion, Crolla could yet get another shot at that belt – maybe against fellow Brit Luke Campbell – as it could soon become vacant.
Jorge Linares, who beat Crolla in back-to-back fights in Manchester, owns the strap and is soon fighting Vasyl Lomachenko. Linares, a 32-year-old Venezuelan, is coming toward the end of his career.
Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80