By Przemek Garczarczyk
17 years ago, Ivan “The Terrible” Kirpa was the mandatory WBC welterweight championship contender. According to his then-promoter Don King, Kirpa was a “fighter with an unbelievable hunger to win.” However, with his bout for the world championship looming, Kirpa’s boxing career abruptly ended. Not in the ring, mind you, but in a brutal street fight in his Russian hometown.
Kirpa now stands as a trainer in the corner of former heavyweight champion Alexander Povetkin (33-1, 23 KO). The hunger to win is still there, and according to Kirpa the same could be said for his “Russian Knight” Povetkin. Fightnews.com spoke with Kirpa in Yekaterinburg before today’s clash with Christian Hammer for the WBO International/WBA Intercontinental belts.
Povetkin’s heart – rather die than quit
“After Wladimir Klitschko, Sasha started to think about professional boxing from a different angle. Everything starts with the right frame of mind – before, he was just waiting for training camp to end – now, he cannot wait to start working. After Klitschko, Povetkin became a newborn fighter. I have a fighter with unbelievable heart and mental strength.
“He never gives up. Never. He would rather die in the ring than quit. He has sneaky power. His sparring partners at the beginning of the round feel comfortable, thinking that they can handle his power. Then the sparring begins for real, they see – or not see – punches coming from such different angles, different speeds.
“When we are talking about his development, changes, we’re talking about only adding to his core skills – maybe some changes in the stance, developing a double, even triple jab. We tried that already with Duhaupas. The other stuff was tested against Mike Perez. Switching punches, getting in the position when your opponent mistakenly assumes he has an advantage, but the opposite is true.”
Pain for pain: Povetkin’s rules
“I don’t like when fighters throw punches, just for the sake of it, not to hurt the other guy. This is professional boxing – every punch you throw is supposed to hurt. One of the main reasons why we asked Adam Kownacki from New York to be Sasha’s sparring partner for Hammer was because we knew that he throws punches hard. Every one of them. We asked him to do exactly the same against Povetkin. The pain for pain rule. Sasha wants to damage you, plain and simple. Adam did well!”
How much better can 37-year-old Povetkin be?
“If he can develop more body movement, something we’re work on? Much, much better. Add Sasha’s punches coming from such unusual angles to more body movement and you trying to build a perfect athlete. It’s a step by step development. Everyone has weak points. Nothing can be done in one training camp, but I like what I see.”
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Special thanks to Maxim Mikhaylov (World of Boxing) for his help!