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Povetkin rated #1 WBA contender for Joshua

Image: Povetkin rated #1 WBA contender for Joshua

By Jim Dower: Alexander Povetkin (33-1, 23 KOs) is now rated as the No.1 contender for WBA heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua. This move by the World Boxing Association in placing the 38-year-old Povetkin at No.1 was not unexpected. Povetkin’s recent win over Christian Hammer was viewed as a fight to lock him in as Joshua’s WBA mandatory.

The WBA still has 2 heavyweights. Manuel Charr holds the WBA World heavyweight belt, and Joshua has the WBA Super World title. It’s likely that the WBA will eventually order Charr and Joshua to face each other, as the sanctioning body plans on reducing the amount of titles they have for the different weight classes. The WBA having 2 champions at heavyweight makes things confusing to a lot of boxing.

Povetkin is an option for Joshua in 2018 if his promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sport is unable to sign a deal for WBC heavyweight champion Deontay ‘Bronze Bomber’ or Tyson Fury to face him this year. The fights that Hearn wants for Joshua in 2018 are these 3: Joseph Parker, Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury. If one or more of those fights can’t get made, then Povetkin will likely be the first option to fill in.

If the Wilder AND Fury fights can’t get made for Joshua, then Dillian Whyte and Povetkin would be the 2 likely fighters that will face AJ this year. Jarrell ‘Big Baby’ Miller still needs to be built up more before he’s eventually matched with Joshua. Hearn will make that fight, but only after it marinates long enough for it to make money. Hearn is going to wait until the Joshua vs. Miller fight is big enough to create a lot of interest in the UK before he finally puts it together.

Povetkin recently defeated Christian Hammer by a 12 round unanimous decision on December 15 to win the vacant WBA Inter-Continental heavyweight title. That was the least impressive performance by Povetkin since his loss to Wladimir Klitschko in 2013. Povetkin has failed to score a knockout since 2017. He’s been forced to go the full 12 round distance against Hammer and Andriy Rudenko. Povetkin’s power seems to have disappeared. Povetkin will need to rediscover his lost power if he wants to have a chance against Joshua.

The WBA moving Povetkin to the top contender position in their rankings likely won’t trouble the 28-year-old Joshua. It’s a good-paying fight for the 6’5”, 250lb Joshua to face the 6’2”, 224lb Povetkin. It’s also a big size and youth mismatch between the two heavyweights. Joshua is 10 years younger, 3 inches taller and 30 pounds heavier than Povetkin. It’s going to be very difficult for Povetkin to deal with the advantages that Joshua has over him.

Here are the current WBA’s top 15 rankings for heavyweight:

1. Alexander Povetkin

2. Fred Oquendo

3. Jarrell Miller

4. Kubrat Pulev

5. Trevor Bryan

6. Christian Hammer

7. Dillian Whyte

8. Alexander Ustinov

9. BJ Flores

10. Guillermo Jones

11. Otto Wallin

12. Bryant Jennings

13. Lucas Browne

14. Johann Duhaupas

15. Kyotaro Fujimoto

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