CARDIFF, WALES — Alexander Povetkin stayed in the hunt for a world title shot with a sickening fifth round knockout of David Price in the undercard of the Anthony Joshua-Joseph Parker heavyweight unification fight at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales on Saturday.
Povetkin, of Russia — still No. 1 in the WBA and WBO rankings — secured himself a shot at the winner of the world heavyweight title unification clash between Joshua and Parker by inflicting Price’s fifth career defeat.
Price, from England, will review his career and consider retirement after another crushing setback.
Povetkin was given a count himself after flooring Price in the third round before finishing off Joshua’s fellow Briton and former sparring partner Price in the fifth of an entertaining encounter.
Some will argue Povetkin is lucky to be in such a good position. Povetkin (34-1, 24 KOs), 38, twice tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2016 yet escaped punishment and went into this fight closing in on a title shot.
Price (22-5, 18 KOs), 34, knew this was his last chance after four stoppage losses and the Liverpool boxer made a nervous start. But just before the end of the first round Price was encouraged by a left hand to Povetkin’s jaw.
Povetkin, Olympic gold medalist in 2004, was six inches smaller but found his range in the first round and continued to fire in hooks in the second round.
Povetkin, who was unanimously out-pointed by Wladimir Klitschko in 2013, landed a big right early in the third round. Better was to come moment later from Povetkin, who floored Price with a right-left combination. When got up he seemed unsure where he was and looked vulnerable. But his head quickly cleared and a thrilling round ended with Povetkin being given a count after being sent crashing into the ring post by a left hook.
But Price’s punch resistance betrayed him in the fifth round when he was stunned by a right that caused him to drop his hands.
Povetkin showed no mercy and applied a left hook flush on the chin, to leave Price crashing heavily on to his back.
Burnett injures hand in decision victory
Northern Ireland’s Ryan Burnett outclassed and unanimously outpointed Yonfrez Parejo in a first defense of his WBA world bantamweight title.
Most of the 78,000 crowd had taken their seats by the time Burnett (19-0, 9 KOs) was comfortably dealing with his Venezuelan challenger.
It was far from a barnstormer, but Burnett was never at risk of losing his belt and won by scores of 120-108, 120-108 and 116-112.
Burnett, 25, who outpointed Zhanat Zhakiyanov in a unification clash in his last fight to win the WBA belt, was quicker on his feet and confused Parejo (21-3-1, 10 KOs) with the angles he threw shots from.
The Belfast boxer also has impressive hand speed but did not land many big, clean shots in a one-sided clash.
Burnett, who relinquished the IBF title after one defense due to a clash of commitments with mandatory defenses, even invited Parejo to come and attack him in an attempt to create openings.
Burnett suffered a cut above the left eye in the seventh but it did not bother him for long and he continued to score with fast, single shots.
“I was getting into it but I hurt my hand at the start of the third round,” Burnett said.
Crolla wins decision over Ramirez
Despite fighting with a mask of blood for much of the fight, Anthony Crolla beat Edson Ramirez by convincing scores of 100-91, 100-90 and 98-92 Saturday night.
Crolla, a former WBA world lightweight champion, had to contend with a nasty cut by his right eye from the fourth round but managed to maintain control of the bout and remain on course for bigger fights.
Crolla (33-6-3, 13 KOs), who outpointed Scotland’s four-weight world champion Ricky Burns in October, is hoping to claw his way back into title contention.
Crolla suffered back-to-back unanimous points defeats to Jorge Linares after one successful title defense and after two successive wins will now hope for a bigger fight next.
Crolla, 31, boxed tidily early on but in the fourth round was troubled buy a cut by his left eye, which left one side of his face covered in blood.
Mexico’s Ramirez (18-3-1, 8 KOs) was staggered by a left in the seventh round, but Crolla finished the round smeared in blood.
Ramirez was too cautious and Crolla capitalized with his work-rate and neat boxing.
English welterweight Josh Kelly produced a slick display in a 98-92, 98-92 and 99-91 points win over Mexico’s Carlos Molina.
Kelly (6-0, 4 KOs), 24, from Sunderland, confidently controlled the early rounds, dropping his hands at times, and in the sixth round staggered Molina (28-9-2, 8 KOs) with a left hook.
But Molina absorbed a lot and Kelly did not drop his hands so much in the second half of the fight.
Kelly, who is due to fight next on June 16, looked classy in the eighth when he landed a straight right and a right uppercut before being going ten rounds for the first time as a professional.
“It was hard to catch clean,” Kelly said.
“It was a really good test. He was that slow he was awkward.”
Welsh lightweight Joe Cordina dropped Belgium’s Hakim Ben Ali three times in a clinical third round win.
Cordina (7-0, 5 KOs), from Cardiff, was too sharp and fast for Ali (19-6, 1 KO), who touched down three times in the third round.
Cordina floored his opponent for two counts of nine, first with hooks to the head and the second with a combination to the body, before the fight was stopped when Ali sunk to the canvas again.
Light-heavyweight Joshua Buatsi, who was born in Ghana but has lived in London since childhood, extended his professional record to 5-0 with a 60-54 six-round points win over Polish journeyman Bartlomiej Grafka.
Buatsi (5-0, 3 KOs), who won a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympics, shook tough Grafka with some heavy shots in the fifth round but had to settle for a points win.