Anthony Joshua returns to Wembley - Can he dispose of the dangerous Russian powerhouse?
All eyes on Wembley stadium this weekend as Anthony Joshua takes on his mandatory challenger, Russian Alexander Povetkin. Joshua is odds on favourite for the fight and there is an argument to be made that the bookies underestimate Povetkin’s ability (he’s as long as 8/1 with some bookmakers): he’s ranked number 3 by the independent Ring Magazine, is an Olympic gold medallist and his sole defeat came against Wladimir Klitschko in 2013.
Beyond Povetkin’s undoubted pedigree, he also has the added dimension of punching like a mule and has the ability to KO pretty much any heavyweight on his day – not least demonstrated by his demolition of David Price last time out. Price’s size and style make him almost the perfect warm up fight for Joshua and Povetkin’s tactics are likely to the same – looking to use head movement to get inside the jab and land hooks to the head and body. However, Joshua’s jab is underrated and will be the difference this fight. It’s quick, accurate and extremely heavy. I expect it to do a good job of deterring Povetkin and Joshua’s shot selection when Povetkin does come inside can do further damage, in particular his uppercut which did for Whyte and Klitschko.
To add further intrigue to this fight, Anthony Joshua is at a stage of his career where, for the first time, he’s not the subject of universal acclaim from the mainstream media and public opinion. He’s come in for some criticism for not fighting Deontay Wilder and his last two performances (Takam & Parker) have not delivered the fireworks fans were becoming used to.
Despite Povetkin’s pedigree as mentioned above, I expect Joshua to win. He could easily outpoint Povetkin by boxing a similar fight to the Parker fight, using his jab and controlling the range & distance and his strength up close to cruise to a unanimous decision (4/1 with Betway); however, it does feels like a fight Joshua might use to make a statement. Stopping Povetkin (despite the fact he’s 39) would be an impressive feat and would reinvigorate AJ’s stock at a time when some have jumped off the bandwagon.
David Price showed it can be done by wobbling Povetkin in the 3rd round of their fight and I expect Joshua to show his more aggressive side. Joshua to win by stoppage at 4/11 isn’t particularly attractive but there are some markets that offer a bit more value. Joshua doesn’t box in a way that is conducive to a clean KO win (of his stoppage wins only 25% are KOs and 75% are TKOs, a low ratio compared to other top heavyweights) and further to that Povetkin is a tough fighter – he was knocked down 4 times against Klitschko but still went the distance.
So if Povetkin is stopped, expect it to be from Joshua grinding down his opponent over a few rounds and the referee stepping in, rather than Povetkin getting concussed off a single punch. It’s a big fight against a dangerous opponent, so Joshua is likely to give himself a look in the early rounds before opening up in the middle to late rounds. I can see Joshua forcing the stoppage around the 8th round.