Fight Preview

JOSHUA VS. POVETKIN: PREVIEW

The fight: Joshua vs. Povetkin – Undefeated British World WBA Super, IBF, WBO and IBO Heavyweight Champion, ‘AJ’ Anthony Joshua (21 – 0 – 0, 20 KO) will defend his championship belts in a clash facing former World WBA Heavyweight Champion, Alexander Povetkin (34 – 1 – 0, 24 KO) on September 22, 2018 at Wembley Stadium in London.

The Russian contender, 38, has become the mandatory challenger to the WBA title that Joshua, 28, currently holds.

Ever since the fight between Joshua and Povetkin was announced, many people and pugilism fans throughout the country and overseas, have automatically written Povetkin off for this fight, with Joshua the heavy favourite amongst fans and sports betting companies. Joshua is currently 1/10 to win the fight according to popular online sports betting company, Sky Bet.

It is astonishing that such an experienced, successful campaigner is clearly being overlooked so easily by many in the build-up to this fight. In fact, the threat of Povetkin is a very ‘real’ proposition as the clash is a potentially very dangerous encounter for Joshua. It would be naïve and inexperienced for fight fans or Joshua himself to rule Povetkin out before the contest. Povetkin must not be overlooked.

However, Joshua claims he is not overlooking Povetkin whatsoever in the run up to this contest:

“Povetkin is a serious challenge that I will prepare meticulously for,” Joshua said. “He has serious pedigree and only a fool would underestimate what he brings.”

Highlight: Anthony Joshua

Anthony Joshua had a highly successful amateur boxing career, obtaining the coveted Olympic Gold medal at London 2012 – the absolute pinnacle of amateur boxing worldwide – that formed the perfect platform for him to turn professional in 2013. Since then, he has been promoted by Matchroom Sport, an organisation led by British boxing promoter, Eddie Hearn and his father, Barry Hearn.

Joshua now continues his journey as a professional, trying to become the best and undisputed heavyweight champion in the highly contested division, as he hunts down win number 22 – and knockout number 21 – when he faces Povetkin in his next outing.

Many boxing fans view Joshua as an invincible heavyweight wrecking machine, spiralling since his spectacular victory against former heavyweight king, Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley Stadium on April 29, 2018. Since then, Joshua has defeated game French fighter, Carlos Takam and most recently young, hungry, undefeated fighter, Joseph Parker, causing the New Zealand man to experience his first defeat on March 31, 2018.

Highlight: Alexander Povetkin

Alexander Povetkin has only recently come back from a suspended ban for failing two drug tests, testing positive for illegal performance enhancing drugs. Since being re-instated in the professional boxing ranks, Povetkin has worked his way up the WBA world rankings to earn himself a mandatory shot at the world title. Therefore, Joshua was forced to accept the fight within a certain time frame, to prevent him being stripped of his WBA championship belt. The alternative option for Joshua could have been to vacate his belt in pursuit of other big-name fights with contenders such as ‘The Bronze Bomber’, Deontay Wilder or ‘The Gypsy King’, Tyson Fury.

However, Joshua opted to maintain his WBA championship title, accept his mandatory challenge and face ageing, Povetkin. The opportunity to challenge Joshua for the title was granted as Joshua and his team failed to negotiate a successful bid for a unification clash against Deontay Wilder within the allocated time limit. The high-profile fights against Wilder or Fury remain in the pipeline for Joshua, potentially in his next fight after the challenge from Povetkin. Such ‘bigger’, higher-earning pay-per view fights in the near future would make it very easy for Joshua to currently overlook Povetkin before their contest, not focusing on the task at hand and looking too far ahead.

Povetkin has previously produced some spectacular moments throughout his career inside the squared circle, both as an amateur and professional. As Joshua achieved at London 2012, Povetkin also previously won the Olympic Gold medal at super-heavyweight in Athens, 2004. As a professional, Povetkin has had 35 contests, with 34 wins, and 24 of those victories coming inside the scheduled full fight distance, by way of knockout or technical knockout (TKO) since his debut in 2005. Conversely, the six-foot, two-inch Russian heavyweight has never been knocked out or stopped in a contest.

In spite of his proven experience, at 38 years of age, most people believe the contrasting youth and athleticism of Joshua will overcome any challenge Povetkin will pose.

Despite Joshua being the clear favourite on paper as supported by betting companies, if you only take away one point from reading this article, it should be that Povetkin must not be overlooked in the build-up to battle.

Heavyweight Division Contenders

Other active heavyweights include Cuban southpaw ‘King Kong’, Luis Ortiz, the cousin of Tyson Fury, Hughie Fury from Britain and ‘The Cobra’, Kubrat Pulev from Bulgaria.
British heavyweight champion, Hughie Fury is set to face Kubrat Pulev, likely on October 27, 2018 in a final eliminator for the world IBF title in Sofia, Bulgaria. The winner of this fight would become the mandatory challenger to the world IBF title, currently held by Joshua, but on the line in the upcoming contest versus Povetkin.

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Meanwhile, it became apparent that Tyson Fury will face heavy-handed American knockout-artist, Deontay Wilder (40 – 0 – 0, 39 KO) by the end of the year, with the showdown likely to be in Las Vegas. Frank Warren, the boxing promoter of Tyson Fury, announced that the clash will definitely go ahead as serious negotiations have been made and agreements reached, after Tyson Fury defeated Italian, Francesco Pianeta (35 – 4 – 1, 24 KO) over the course of 10 rounds at Windsor Park, Belfast on August 18, 2018.

Tyson Fury is undefeated in his professional boxing career and is the former lineal, unified heavyweight champion of the world, after unexpectedly overcoming Ukrainian long-reigning champion, Wladimir Klitschko in Düsseldorf, Germany on November 28, 2015.

Since that infamous victory, Fury did not compete again until June 9, 2018 in a completely one-sided affair against Swiss 39-year old, Sefer Seferi, as he became severely overweight and unfit, battled depression, failed drug tests and had given up on the game he previously loved.

After overcoming severe struggles outside of the ring which seriously affected his physical and mental health, Fury is now on the straight and narrow as he continues his quest to become the best heavyweight on the planet and unified champion again. He feels he deserves to regain the belts that he was stripped of, despite never losing them in a fight inside the boxing ring.

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As for Joshua, it is clear that he also wants to be seen as the greatest heavyweight of the modern era and become the supreme king of the division.

This would suggest that he must face and defeat the eventual winner of the contest between Wilder and Fury. Both fighters pose serious danger and may cause problems for the London man, but that is in the future and before that, Joshua faces credible opposition against Povetkin next month at Wembley.

Not a Foregone Conclusion

It must be considered that fights are not won on paper or from the record of a boxer – ultimately everything comes down to who performs best on the day. Povetkin has proved he has serious power, with 24 knockouts to his name, as illustrated in his last contest when he knocked David Price in to unconsciousness in the fifth round of their fight at the Principality Stadium, Cardiff on March 31, 2018.

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Another factor in the case of this contest is that Joshua has shown to not have the greatest ‘chin’ durability. This can not be acquired through training or practise; ‘you can not put muscle on your chin’. This increases uncertainty surrounding the clash of the big men, bearing in mind the devastating power Povetkin possesses.

For example, despite being victorious eventually by way of knockout in the round 11 against Klitschko, Joshua was previously dropped in round 6 by the ageing man in a close, ‘life or death’ encounter. This is in stark contrast to the way Tyson Fury beat Klitschko, when he made much easier work of the Ukrainian champion in 2015, Although, it must be remembered that Povetkin himself was defeated by Klitscko via unanimous points decision in his own hometown of Moscow in 2013. Joshua was also ‘rocked’ previously earlier in his professional career by injured Londoner, Dillian Whyte, although again Joshua came back to claim victory in the contest.

His defensive vulnerabilities were still apparent in the early days of being a fighter when he was an amateur. He was stopped by TKO on a number of occasions; this was with a protective headguard being worn as well as larger, softer, ‘pillow’ 12-ounce gloves. In comparison, professional heavyweight boxing contests are competed with no headguard and thinner, lighter, less padded 10-ounce gloves. This significantly increases the chance of a knockout happening in the bout.

Will Alexander Povetkin cause an upset at Wembley stadium on September 22, 2018? Or is it too late for Povetkin to rekindle his former glory from the prime of his boxing career?

Whatever the decision of fight fans and boxing experts, the winner of this contest is certainly not a foregone conclusion and is not decided until after the final bell of the fight – after 12 rounds, or before in the case of a knockout.

Final Prediction

The safest, most sensible bet would be to favour Anthony Joshua for the victory via points decision. But ultimately anything can happen in boxing, especially in the heavyweight ranks, and it is impossible to always predict the exact outcome; the fight is not over until it is over. Even though Povetkin is undoubtedly past his prime and has spent time out of the ring for failed drug tests, he is still a danger and has a stronger chance of causing an upset in this clash than many people seem to think.

Regardless of opinions amongst boxers, fans and boxing experts, as this exciting contest edges closer, it must be re-iterated to not rule Povetkin out of the fight.

Written By Michael Mulvey / @MulveyBoxing

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