Anthony Joshua (21-0) vs Alexander Povetkin (34-1)
This is the first fight where public opinion seems to be slightly shifting against Anthony Joshua. The performances in his last two fight have seen him flatter to deceive as he dominated behind a long jab rather than look to go for the stoppage. The increased apathy can also be partly attributed to the perceived ducking of Deontay Wilder, who now seems set to face Tyson Fury. Reportedly Wembley will not sell out for this fight and I have to wonder whether this inspires Joshua into a big performance, as he looks to prove himself to be the number one. He defends his WBO, IBF and WBA World Titles
He become the Golden Boy of British Boxing when winning Olympic gold in 2012 and has gone from strength to strength as a professional. He won his world title by stopping Charles Martin brutally and confirmed his ascent to the crown when beating Wladimir Klitschko in a fight of the year contender. He controversially stopped Carlos Takam before winning a decision against Joseph Parker, although subsequent performances of those opponents have made that win look less impressive. Most people have him ranked as the top heavyweight in the world at the moment and he will have to continue winning.
Povetkin (34-1) has gotten this shot by virtue of being the WBA mandatory. He is approaching the end of his career given he has turned 39. His only defeat has come against Wladimir Klitschko, who won a boring decision. It has slightly been marred by recent drug test failures but Povetkin has had solid wins over Ruslan Chagaev, Carlos Takam, David Price, Christian Hammer and Manuel Charr. His victories over Price and Takam were highlighted by particularly impressive knockouts. Like Joshua, he is also an Olympic gold medalist, having taken the Super Heavyweight gold in 2004.
Narrowing down the style of Joshua is harder now. He relies more on his jab and work from distance than ever before. He still has that power though, that will surely always remain. When he choose to mix it up at close range, his uppercut is particularly vicious. Povetkin looks to barrel in and work to the body before throwing a big overhand right. He tries to cut off the ring and fight in a range that suits him. Look for him to double up the hooks if he can. He will slip both inside and outside the straight shots of Joshua. He showed toughness against Klitschko, when getting up from four knockdowns and kept coming forward. David Price did look to have him hurt in his most recent fight
Joshua is the bigger man again with a five inch height advantage and a seven inch reach advantage. Povetkin somewhat resembles Takam who ended up cutting Joshua with an accidental clash of heads. When Klitschko came up against Povetkin he dominated behind a jab and grab strategy. Many have posited that Joshua is morphing into a Klitschko style fighter, not willing to take risks and rather win behind the jab. Here he has stated that he will instead “bully him a bit.” When comparing the performances, he declared he will “approach it differently, by doing more to put him in his place.” He also claimed it would be better than the Parker fight, which had a lot of pressure because he assumed it would lead into a Wilder fight.
Povetkin is not the same type of fighter as Takam and Parker. He keeps coming forward which is perfect for Joshua. When he is already pushing a fighter back, he seems no benefit to really stepping on a fighter. With Povetkin coming towards him it will be easier for Joshua to hurt and potentially end Povetkin. He showed against Klitschko though that he has a huge heart and won’t give up easily. That will likely get him into trouble against Joshua and I think he gets to him around the middle rounds.
Best Bet: Anthony Joshua to win in rounds 4-6