Heavyweight contender Alexander Povetkin was offered the opportunity to challenge lineal champion Tyson Fury on Sept. 14, but he turned down the fight and instead took a bout for less money and less prestige against Hughie Fury, Tyson's first cousin.
Who knows what would have happened had Povetkin faced Tyson Fury, but he did the job against Hughie Fury, winning a unanimous decision in a fight that did little to please the crowd in the Vasiliy Lomachenko-Luke Campbell co-feature on Saturday at the O2 Arena in London.
All three judges scored the fight 117-111 for Povetkin, who remained in the hunt for another shot at a world title. It was sloppy fight in which neither man did much damage or let his hands go, but Povetkin was more consistent as he won in his return from an 11-month layoff following a highlight-reel seventh-round knockout loss challenging then-unified world titleholder Anthony Joshua last September at Wembley Stadium in London.
Povetkin was more aggressive than the awkward Fury (23-3, 13 KOs), 24, of England, who relies more on his technical ability. But he often fell into Povetkin and tried to tie him up in a frustrating fight to watch.
Povetkin (35-2, 24 KOs), 39, a 2004 Russian Olympic gold medalist with two failed drug tests for performance-enhancing drugs on his checkered résumé, opened a cut over Fury's left eye in the ninth round.
Both appeared very tired by the time the fight reached its second half. In the 11th round Fury mustered the energy to land a clean right hand that buzzed Povetkin and forced him to hold on, but he rarely landed punches in combination. Neither showed much urgency in the 12th round, in which there was more holding than punching before the disappointing fight came to an end.
According to CompuBox statistics, Povetkin landed 105 of 390 punches (27 percent) and Fury connected with just 82 of 296 (28 percent). Fury never landed double-digit punches in any round, landing only as many as nine in the seventh round.
Fury, in his first fight since signing with Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn, saw the end of his two-fight winning streak against lesser opposition since a decision loss to Kubrat Pulev in a world title eliminator in October. Fury's only other loss had come by majority decision challenging then-world titlist Joseph Parker in 2017.
Edwards keeps flyweight title via no contest
Julio Cesar Martinez dominated Charlie Edwards in what was initially ruled a third-round knockout victory that gave him the WBC flyweight title, but the result was changed to a no contest minutes later because Martinez had hit Edwards while he was down.
Officially, Edwards (15-1, 6 KOs), 26, of England, retained his title for the second time, but not without controversy. Martinez, the mandatory challenger, came to Edwards' home turf and dominated before the controversial ending. He was busy from the outset as he attacked Edwards, who was a stationary target.
In the third round, Martinez continued his attack and forced Edwards back with an unrelenting body attack to go with uppercuts and head shots before finally dropping him to a knee with a left hook. Martinez landed another shot to his body while Edwards had his knee on the mat, but referee Mark Lyson did not call the foul and counted Edwards out at 1 minute, 43 seconds.
But even though the British Boxing Board of Control does not employ the use of replay, the replay was shown over and over on the big screens in the arena, and was seen by WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman, who was in attendance.
The WBC uses replay and Sulaiman ordered the result be changed to a no contest, which the British Board of Boxing Control apparently went along with even though the sanctioning body normally would have no say in the matter in a fight in the United Kingdom.
"He did hurt me, which is why I went to take a knee," Edwards said. "The shot on the floor absolutely finished me. I've never felt a shot like that and it was while I was on the floor, relaxed, trying to recover. It took the complete wind out of me. Watching that back and seeing how dirty that was I've got to thank the WBC for sticking by the rules. Would I give him a rematch? Yes."
Martinez was disappointed by the change of the result after having been initially announced as the new titleholder and celebrating in the ring.
"I hurt him and he didn't go straight down," he said through an interpreter. "He took a knee but he did it in steps and I think I got him before the referee stepped between us. Once I hit while he was on his way down I feel that's when the referee stepped in and I stopped hitting him. But I sensed he felt how hard I punch and he didn't want to continue." Martinez (14-1, 11 KOs), 24, of Mexico, said he wants a rematch and likely will get one because Sulaiman said the WBC will order an immediate one. The WBC president also addressed the change of result.
"There is evidence on the video," Sulaiman said. "The WBC instant replay is in effect. So the WBC has determined there's going to be an immediate rematch ordered. Can you imagine the feeling of both fighters? [Martinez] thinks he just became champion. Now he's going back not as a champion. [Edwards] felt he was hit while he was down. This is boxing. I believe in instant replay and we will abide by that. 18,000 people [in the arena] and millions around the world are watching that replay."
Buatsi knocks out Ford
Light heavyweight up-and-comer Joshua Buatsi, a 2016 Olympic bronze medalist for Great Britain, had a goal against former MMA fighter Ryan Ford: to become the first boxer to stop him.
Buatsi (12-0, 10 KOs), 26, of England, achieved his goal in a dominating seventh-round knockout to retain his regional belt against Ford, who took many hard, clean punches before finally hitting the canvas.
Buatsi, the younger, fresher, stronger man, took a few clean shots of his own -- his defense is a bit porous -- but he showed a good chin against the experienced Ford (16-5, 11 KOs), 37, of Canada, who had faced notable opponents such as Avni Yildirim and Fedor Chudinov.
The fight looked like it would surely go the 10-round distance but then Buatsi closed the show out of nowhere in the seventh round. He landed multiple right hands to force Ford back and then nailed him with a debilitating right hand to the body followed by a right to the head that dropped Ford to all fours, where he took the full count from referee Bob Williams at 1 minute, 7 seconds.
Buatsi, who stopped battle-tested former world title challenger Marco Antonio Periban in the fourth round on June 1 in New York on the Andy Ruiz Jr.-Anthony Joshua undercard, notched his seventh knockout in a row.
Cordina outpoints Gwynne
In an all-Welsh showdown, Joe Cordina, a 2016 Olympian for Great Britain, retained his British and Commonwealth lightweight titles by unanimous decision in a hard-fought scrap with Gavin Gwynne. The judges scored the fight 116-110, 116-110 and 116-111.
Cordina (10-0, 7 KOs), 27, who retained the Commonwealth title for the second time and the British title for the first time, took control from the outset. He found a home for his jab time and again and threw Gwynne (11-1, 1 KO), 29, off with his effective head and body movement.
The more aggressive and taller Gwynne, who was in his first scheduled 12-round fight, landed occasional right hands and tried to press the action but spent long stretches of the fight trying to figure out the cagier and quicker counter-punching Cordina, who went 12 rounds for the second time.
Referee John Latham was busy because both fighters engaged in dirty tactics. He took a point from Cordina for a low blow in the seventh round and a point from Gwynne for punching behind the head in the ninth round, in which he also landed perhaps his best punch of the fight -- a clean right uppercut that rocked Cordina.
Cordina was in control but let his hands fly in the 12th round in an effort to score the knockout. He landed hard shots to the head and body but Gwynne continued to come forward as they closed out the fight exchanging punches.
Marshall wins easily
Super middleweight Savannah Marshall, Great Britain's first female amateur world champion and a 2012 and 2016 Olympian, knocked out Daniele Basteri (2-1, 2 KOs), 29, of Brazil, at the bell, ending the fifth round of their scheduled eight-round fight.
Marshall (7-0, 5 KOs), 28, who made her pro debut on the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor undercard in August 2017 and is trained by Peter Fury (Tyson Fury's uncle), dominated the fight.
She bloodied Basteri's nose in the third round, rocked her with a hard straight right hand in the fourth round and then dropped her to one knee with a combination that was culminated by a stiff right hand late in the fifth round. Referee Bob Williams began to count but then waved off the fight just as the bell was ringing to end the round.
During her amateur career, Marshall handed undisputed women's middleweight champion Claressa Shields the only loss of her storied amateur career in which she was 77-1 and won two Olympic gold medals. A pro rematch could be in the offing down the road.