Veteran heavyweight contender Alexander Povetkin 34-2 (24) has responded with bewilderment after Dillian Whyte 25-1 (18) labelled him a coward.
In a written statement Povetkin said: “Why on Earth would Whyte call me a coward? I personally can’t understand. Everything is going according to a plan, I’m not going to tie up with boxing – I’m getting ready for a fight and who will be my rival doesn’t matter to me.”
The 39-year-old Russian is coming off a TKO7 loss to WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua 22-0 (21) at London’s Wembley Stadium in September. His only other loss was to long-reigning heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko more than five years ago.
Povektin earned himself a shot at ‘AJ’ with his spectacular fifth-round knockout of David Price on the undercard of Joshua’s unification bout with New Zealand’s Joseph Parker in March.
Whyte, 30, had earlier been asked about a Povetkin fight by Sky Sports.
“He’s a good fighter, but also he’s a coward as well, because he agreed to fight me at ringside after the David Price fight,” said Whyte,
“Then he said no, I’m not going to fight, I will sit around and wait until I get the chance to fight Anthony Joshua.”
There was talk of a Whyte versus Povetkin fight last month but the former WBA ‘regular’ titleholder is believed to be targeting a ring return in either March or April.
Meanwhile undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk’s promoter Alexander Krassyuk has flagged Povetkin as a potential opponent ahead of the undefeated Ukrainian’s planned move up to the heavyweight division.
The 31-year-old Usyk 16-0 (12) unified the WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO 200-pound titles with his stunning performance in the inaugural World Boxing Super Series tournament. In November he stopped former WBC cruiserweight champion Tony Bellew 30-3-1 (20) in the eighth round of a surprisingly competitive fight to retain his four world championships.