The latest of Anthony Joshua’s fights is upon once again and we could be in for another tight and bruising encounter. There was a time, not so long ago, that AJ’s ring foes were little more than bums. But as he’s risen up the ranks, collected all the heavyweight titles and surged ever closer to world domination, his opponents have got tougher and tougher. True, Klitschko was on the decline when Joshua took his belts, but fights since against the likes of Joseph Parker have tested Britain’s newest boxing hero.
This weekend’s clash against 38 year-old Russian fighter Alexander Povetkin might not be a headline-grabber, but the dude is easily one of the toughest fighters AJ will have ever faced. After needing points to take Kiwi Parker down recently, many are anticipating a close and lively affair this time around.
The tale of the tape
Both men have stats that impress, but it’s Povetkin that has the experience advantage. The man has an impressive record and is known for taking on tricky encounters, never shirking an opportunity to fight the best fighters out there.
Here’s how their numbers stack up against each other:
Height: 6′ 6″
Height: 6′ 2″
When’s it on? And where?
Anthony Joshua vs. Alexander Povetkin is happening at Wembley Stadium on Saturday 22nd September. As it’s a British fight, there are no silly ring times. The undercard starts around 6pm, with AJ and Povetkin scheduled to come out for 10pm. You know how these things go, they’ll be a delay of some sort, but we fully expect to know the winner by 11pm.
What they’re saying
Anthony Joshua, as you might expect, is going into Saturday night’s scrap a pretty confident man. Here’s what he says about the fight, what else is going on and what he plans on doing after Saturday night:
“I can’t wait to get back in the ring – the end of March feels a long time ago now. Povetkin is a serious challenge that I will prepare meticulously for. He has serious pedigree and only a fool would underestimate what he brings to the table.
This isn’t a stepping stone. This is a proper fight. One punch can change the course of history. Povetkin knows what he’s doing. He’s a top-five heavyweight, I’d say.
I’ve seen guys like Povetkin, they’re difficult, they’re strong fighters so I’ve got to be smart. I’m not new and my size isn’t new to him. But I fight taller guys a lot of the time because the heavyweight division does breed a lot of big guys.I don’t really fight guys with his height that much, so I’m having to adapt my style, he’s not having to adapt his style. He’s been fighting guys my height for so many years, so it will be easier for him, harder for me.
“It’s not the height of the man, it’s the fight of the man. He’s fought people like me all his life. He’s used to tall guys. He knows how to slip and throw punches, so I’ve got to make sure I give him no gaps or openings. It’s not the height that’s the issue – it’s how willing and determined he is.
He’s a gold medallist, been in the game a long time, he’s very experienced and has a great knockout threat. I’m going in there to spark him out. Go in there, keep a tight guard, don’t give him any openings and then whip him around the head and body. He’s 39 so he won’t be able to take that pressure to the body.
I can’t please everyone anymore, so I get that and so it’s my game now. I’m having fun with it. I did 16 fights and went in for a world title, three years an amateur and went and won the Olympics, unified the heavyweight division, and it’s still not good enough.
Either I get stronger from it or I get drained by it. I think I am getting stronger from it as it builds up a thicker skin. Get behind me as a person rather than a boxer. If you support me, support me as a person for life but if you’re with me just for boxing, when it’s going good you’ll be there but if it’s bad you will not.”
The champ’s already looking past Povetkin though and a shot at Tyson Fury or Deontay Wilder next year…
“We’re in the same division, the same era, there’s no way we can’t fight. Providing I beat Povetkin, 13th April is booked. Wembley is there – a date and a location – it’s just the person who wants to step up and fight me.”
Povetkin’s not said much to the UK media, but here’s some of the little he has revealed:
“The battle for the World title has always been my goal. I fought for the moment to face the strongest in the world and on September 22nd I get my opportunity. Anthony Joshua has four belts and I want them all. I’m glad that our fight will finally take place, the meeting of two Olympic champions in the ring is destined to be a breathtaking event…”
What the experts are saying
BBC Five Live boxing pundit Steve Bunce is never usually backwards in coming forwards. He’s spoken out about Joshua’s need to take his opponent deadly serious this weekend. Buncey seems to seriously rate the Russian.
He are some of his comments ahead of Saturday night’s bout:
“I like Povetkin, I’m a massive fan. He might be a flawed man and there have been very, very dubious practices away from the ring with various infringements on drug rulings. But as a fighter, I like him. I think he’s dangerous, I think he’s accurate, I think he has a brilliant boxing brain. Wilder of course – one punch and it’s all over – but take Wilder away, Povetkin is the heavyweight right now I’d least want to fight.
Povetkin’s history is fantastic. He fought something like 12 named fighters in his first 15 fights. He had about two or three easier ones. They were preparing Povetkin for the very top from day one. He fell out with trainer Teddy Atlas as the Russian backers of Povetkin had this idea he could be like a Russian Mike Tyson. They had the chance to fight Klitschko much earlier but Teddy said no, he’s not ready while his backers were saying yes.
So what they did was have a behind doors sparring session. They paid Bruce Seldon – a former world champion – something like $30,000 to reconstruct the fight in some gym in Atlantic City. I think Seldon was stopped in around seven rounds and that’s when the backers agreed it was not the time to fight Wladimir. When he did eventually fight Wladimir, some of those four knockdowns he took were serious.
Joshua boxed brilliantly, if boringly, against Joseph Parker. With Povetkin’s experience, I don’t think Joshua brings anything that he has not seen in a fighter before. I’m telling you this is a good fight.”
Despite Povetkin being one of the tougher fights of AJ’s career, few are betting against anything other than a win for the Watford man again here. He’s as short as 1/8 to win the fight, with 40s available on the draw and a temptingly big 8/1 on the Russian. Plenty of people agree that it’ll be a tricky fight for the champ to negotiate and a points victory at 9/2 is surely appealing to anyone looking for a flutter on a method of victory bet.
How we think it’ll go
We can’t argue with Steve Bunce or even Anthony Joshua when they rate Alexander Povetkin. AJ made hard work of Joseph Parker who, while a champion in his own right at the time, did go on to be beaten by Dillian Whyte a short time after. There’s no shame in that, per se, Whyte’s a good fighter. But it does show that Joshua might not be the untouchable god of boxing that some fight fans have claimed. We see a really tough encounter here…
Our shout? It’s going to points and it’s going to be tighter than many may think. We think Joshua will get the decision, but we think it’ll be a serious night’s work. We’ll take that 9/2 bet on Joshua to win on points.
This event at Rileys is ticket only, with any unsold tickets available for purchase on the door on the night. Don’t miss out and be disappointed – book your tickets early… Tickets range from £3 to £5, depending on which is your nearest Rileys. Don’t forget to check out our upgraded ‘Ringside Tickets’ for the very best seats in the house, plus food, plus drink and, of course, the main event itself.