Anthony Joshua can expect to come under serious pressure when he defends his world heavyweight titles against Alexander Povetkin at Wembley Stadium on 22 September.
Povetkin’s two failed drugs tests in recent years will undoubtedly provide some part of the narrative when fight week arrives. His first positive test flagged use of meldonium in early 2016 and though he argued he took the drug before it became illegal, the US Federal Court later ruled otherwise. Povetkin tested positive for ostarine later in 2016.
Fellow British fighter Price knows all about the threat posed by Povetkin after their explosive encounter at the Principality Stadium in March.
There is always a chance of an upset in boxing, but it isn’t as one-sided a fight as some people are seeing it. They should be excited about that fight, because it will be good while it lasts.
Alexander Povetkin is the party-pooper intent on trashing the place that Anthony Joshua couldn’t avoid, writes James Dielhenn. From Russia with gloves, overlook this vicious challenger at your peril.
Joshua’s teeth were gnashing at the idea of fighting a big-punching knockout merchant with a ruthless streak and he’s certainly got his wish. It isn’t Deontay Wilder, at least not yet, which in itself makes the threat of Povetkin a serious operational risk.
This is the first time that Joshua has been manoeuvred into an unsought after situation in his flawless career, and fighters will tell you that these occurrences are the most dangerous.
The breakdown in negotiations to fight Wilder has opened the door to WBA mandatory challenger Povetkin who has lurked in the shadows since the turn of the year, lingering with intent on Joshua’s most recent undercard, but he possesses a presence so menacing that he could not be hidden for long. For Povetkin, chasing Joshua is as valuable as hunting Wilder was to Joshua. Povetkin is now close enough to smell his prey but might find a wounded animal that bites back.
This will be the first time that Joshua has fought a genuine puncher whose game-plan will be to attack him, and knock him out, ASAP.
Start lethargically with his subconscious still dreaming of Wilder, and Joshua will quickly learn that Povetkin will not jab and move. This fight is a banana skin.
It is also, for the 38-year-old Russian, his final chance to add a world championship to a career that has benefitted from sizeable investment from people with deep pockets. That brings pressure but means, for the first time, Joshua is fighting a desperate but dangerous challenger who knows there is no tomorrow (Wladimir Klitschko entered the Wembley extravaganza knowing his illustrious achievements were safe, regardless of the result).
Povetkin became the highest paid Russian boxer ever in 2013 when a $23,233,330 purse bid, financed by Andrey Ryabinskiy who is still behind him today, brought Klitschko to Russia. It was a rare occasion that Klitschko, during his reign, was forced out of his comfort zone. Povetkin’s sole attempt at a world title ended in a unanimous decision defeat, his only loss in 35, but he showed grit to get off the canvas four times. No man has stopped Povetkin yet.
He will bob and weave, roll under incoming jabs, stand flat-footed and rely upon doing damage with hooks off either hand like a late Mike Tyson, albeit without the same speed. But there is evidence to say that Povetkin’s hooks can land, and end fights in a flash.
How would the fight unfold?
The longer it goes on the more it’s in Joshua’s favour, because if Povetkin fights like he did against me, he was loading up.
He may not fight like that against Joshua. He was loading up, because he thought he could just knock me out as soon as he hit me, but after four rounds, he was starting to blow, and in a lot of his fights he does start blowing after four rounds.
Can Joshua withstand Povetkin’s power?
I think Joshua has got a very underrated defence, his hand positions are always spot on. His hands are in the right positions as he punches all the time, even when he’s throwing.
Technically his defence is really good, so I can’t see Povetkin really getting through, but like I said, it’s his accuracy which may work in his favour. It’s an interesting fight.
Probably not, early on no, because he will respect the fact that Povetkin is also an Olympic gold medallist, and world and European amateur champion. He’s only lost to Klitschko.
How dangerous is Povetkin?
Let’s look at Povetkin’s knockout victories against fighters who have been stopped before, like Takam, Duhaupas, Manuel Charr. Fighters like that, Povetkin has iced them. He’s knocked them out cold.
His accuracy is pinpoint, that’s what done me. He caught me with a right hand, right on the temple and I was out on my feet.
Parker couldn’t knock Takam out cold. Joshua couldn’t knock Takam out cold. Anyone who has beaten Takam, couldn’t knock him out cold, but Povetkin could.
The cold, hard truth for Joshua?
Anthony Joshua’s next opponent was enforced upon him – and Alexander Povetkin is the wrong man to write off at Wembley.
His accuracy is pinpoint, that’s what done me. He caught me with a right hand, right on the temple and I was out on my feet. Throughout the fight it was punch after punch accuracy. Early on, when I was taking his shots, I thought he is not going to be able to hurt me, but then when he did land, he made sure he landed in the right position.
What ending will we see at Wembley?
If Joshua takes that into account, he will go into the fight cautious early on, and then as the rounds go on, you’ll see Povetkin – he’ll be 39 by the fight – start tiring and Joshua will jump all over him. I think he’ll win by stoppage.