This Saturday, September 22nd, Anthony Joshua, arguably the face of British boxing, returns to Wembley to take on Russian Alexander Povetkin. Will it be a routine win for AJ that the public have come to expect every time he steps foot in the ring, or will Povetkin produce the fight of his career to walk away with all of Joshua’s four belts?
Although some fans see Anthony Joshua’s showdown with Povetkin as simply a stepping stone for his next fight in April 2019, possibly against Wilder, or, more likely, old foe Dillian Whyte, Povetkin should not be underestimated and dismissed so quickly. The WBA mandatory challenger is an Olympic gold medallist and carries with him a wealth of boxing experience, with a professional record of 34 wins from 35 fights – his only defeat coming at the hands of Wladimir Klitschko by UD, whom Joshua famously defeated at the very arena the Russian will look to walk away victorious. Despite many predicting a Joshua stoppage, Povetkin has never been stopped within the squared circle on a professional stage, and so this may well be wishful thinking from fans of the British world champion.
Not only can superior experience play a positive role for Povetkin, but the fact that he is four inches smaller than the 6’ 6” Joshua can be turned into an advantage. He has already grown accustomed to fighting much larger heavyweights than himself, exemplified by his knockout victory over David Price on the undercard of Joshua’s last bout, and his smaller frame and faster feet can be used to expose weaknesses in Joshua’s defence. In particular, Povetkin is likely to try to utilise his powerful left hook on the inside, and be on the lookout for any openings he can find on the counter.
Finally, at the age of 39, it is unlikely Povetkin will get another shot at a world title should he lose to AJ on Saturday night. The Russian has been chasing a fight of this magnitude for five years since his loss to Klitschko, and as this could well be his last chance of more world title success, he should definitely be fired up and ready to put it all on the line in the hope of emerging victorious.
However, Joshua is without a doubt physically superior to Povetkin. His greater height, weight and reach can all sway the outcome of the fight in Joshua’s favour. For example, when the two men fought Klitschko, Joshua was able to utilise both his jab and power punches far more effectively than Povetkin (and ultimately was victorious, unlike the Russian). Thus, we have seen before how Povetkin can struggle against a boxer with a notable height and reach advantage, similar to AJ’s. Although not stopped, Povetkin was indeed knocked down four times during the process of his fight against Klitschko, showing his defence is not wholly impregnable. With the power that Joshua possesses, a knockout victory for the Brit cannot be ruled out.
Joshua has also promised to be more aggressive in this fight during the build-up, possibly increasing the chances of a knockout victory as he looks to send a message to Wilder and Fury, who are reportedly set to fight later this year. Do not be surprised if Joshua looks to use his famous uppercut on the much shorter Povetkin. However, his win against Joseph Parker in March 2018 showed that there is more to Joshua than simply power; he can box his way to a victory. Thus, should Povetkin prove a stern test and stubborn competitor, Joshua has the knowledge and experience to be able to outbox his opponent to a comfortable win on the scorecards.
Although Povetkin is undoubtedly the more experienced fighter, Joshua has certainly come a long way in boxing. Like his upcoming opponent, Joshua is of course also an Olympic gold medallist, and has now had over twenty professional fights since his debut almost five years ago – no longer the up and coming “star in the making”, but a seasoned professional fast-approaching his prime. Thus, Povetkin being the boxer with more years spent in the game may prove null and void, especially since Joshua has fought at Wembley before.
Alexander Povetkin is certainly a man who should not be underestimated in this fight. Having your single loss be at the hands of Wladimir Klitschko is no embarrassment, and he has proved he has the power to be in the ring with the biggest of heavyweights. Expect a hearty performance from the experienced Russian, who looks to get on the inside of Joshua and throw quick, short-range hooks, with the occasional attempt at a surprise overhand right. Despite Povetkin being overlooked greatly in my eyes, with the focus on the April 2019 Wembley showdown for AJ overshadowing the present moment, I still expect Joshua to come out on top thanks to his professionalism and physical superiority, possibly with a late stoppage as he looks to put on a show.
How do you think the fight will go? Leave your thoughts comments.