Anthony Joshua vs. Alexander Povetkin – preview & prediction
By Scott Gilfoid: Anthony Joshua will be taking on a potentially tough opponent tonight in his title defense against old war horse Alexander Povetkin at Wembley Stadium in London, England. Joshua (21-0, 20 KOs) will have his unbeaten record as well as his IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight titles at stake when he faces Povetkin 34-1, 24 KOs) inside the ring in front of what could be as many as 90,000 boxing fans. If Joshua flubs up tonight, the fight is going to be seen by a massive amount of people.
“He has to be spiteful, and he needs to know that he can hurt Povetkin. We need to see a little bit more ruthlessness from Joshua while also being smart,” Hearn said to skysports.com in talking about how he wants/hopes Joshua will fight tonight against Povetkin.
What Hearn wants Joshua to do tonight against Povetkin doesn’t enter into the equation. Joshua will try doing whatever he can against the more experienced fighter. If the referee doesn’t step in to try and nullify what Povetkin is capable of doing, like the referee did to Joshua’s last opponent Joseph Parker by preventing him from being able to work inside, then AJ is going to need to figure out how to fight him. Joshua might have to go back to his old fashioned slugging like he’d been doing for most of his career.
Joshua stopped fighting like that after he gassed out and was dropped by 41-year-old Wladimir Klitschko in 2017. Joshua was almost knocked out by the aging, ring rusty Wladimir. He obviously knows that Klitschko – or any good heavyweight – would have knocked him out if he had a brain on his shoulder on the night. It’s an accident that Joshua won that fight. Afterwards, Joshua realized that he needed to learn how to box so that he could conserve his energy and protect his increasingly more fragile chin. At this point in Joshua’s career, his chin might not be any better than David Price’s. I’m serious. Joshua never really had a great chin even during his amateur days, but he seems to be getting more vulnerable as his career progresses. Povetkin was able to KO Price in the 5th round after unleashing a big right hand that dropped him flat on his back. That same punch likely knocks Joshua out tonight if Povetkin can land it. Joshua is going to be making it difficult for Povetkin by staying on the move, jabbing him and tying him up to keep him from getting hi shots off.
Joshua will likely have studied Povetkin’s fight against Wladimir Klitschko in fine detail, looking for cracks in his armor that he can potentially exploit.
Joshua weighed in at 245 pounds to Povetkin’s 222 lbs. at last Friday’s weigh-in. Some of Joshua’s boxing fans see his slightly decreased weight as a sign that he’s improved his stamina problems from the past. They think that Joshua being nine pounds lighter than the 254 that he weighed for his fight against Carlos Takam and five pounds lighter than the 250 that he weighed for his fight against Klitschko as a sign that his stamina problems have now been permanently fixed. I don’t think so. Joshua had stamina problems three years ago when he fought 245 for the Dillian Whyte fight. I don’t expect that his stamina issues are going to be improved now that he’s a little older at 28 and weighing the same amount a he did when he was 25-years-old fighting Whyte.
Jarrell ‘Big Baby’ Miller thinks that Joshua could have problems tonight when he gets inside the ring with Povetkin, because he he had problems before when he fought Carlos Takam, who is a similar type of pressure fighter.
“[Joshua] had a tremendous amount of problems with Carlos Takam, who comes forward like Povetkin, throws combinations like Povetkin,” Miller said to skysports.com.
I agree with Miller. Joshua was badly troubled by Takam throughout their fight last October in Cardiff, Wales. Joshua was exhausted towards the end of the fight when the referee suddenly jumped in and halted the fight prematurely in round 10. Takam would have had a better chance of winning if he hadn’t trimmed off so much weight for the fight by dropping from his normal 250+ pounds to fight in the 230s. Takam looked weaker than normal, and he lacked the power to get Joshua out of there. However, Takam exposed Joshua by showing he can’t handle pressure or a fast pace.
Joshua will likely fight in a safety first style looking to copy the way that Wladimir Klitschko used to fight so that he can stay on the outside out of harm’s way against Povetkin. I think Joshua doesn’t want to risk having his chin cracked by a puncher like Povetkin, and for that reason I don’t see him standing in the pocket against the talented Russian like he did against the lesser guys he’s been padding his record with during his career. As such, I see Joshua boxing his way to a dull 12 round decision tonight over Povetkin. Joshua will stay on the outside, use his jab and tie up Povetkin at every opportunity he gets. He’s not going to want to take any chances of getting hit by Povetkin’s powerful left hook or right hand. If Joshua had a good chin and stamina to stand in there and fight, he would battle Povetkin in a war, but he cant do that. It’s too risky. I see Joshua winning a boring 12 round decision. He won’t increase his popularity with American boxing fans, who prefer to see exciting knockout artists like Deontay Wilder fight when they watch heavyweight action.
The undercard has a couple of interesting fights with former British and Commonwealth heavyweight champion David Price (22-5, 18 KOs) facing Sergey Kuzmin (12-0, 9 KOs), and #2 WBC Luke Campbell (18-2, 15 KOs) fighting #1 WBC Yvan Mendy (40-4-1, 19 KOs) in a World Boxing Council lightweight title eliminator. In the big scheme of things, the Mendy vs. Campbell fight is the only one on the entire undercard that means anything. The winner of the Mendy-Campbell fight will be WBC lightweight champion Mikey Garcia’s mandatory. If Garcia does decide to defend against them, it’s unlikely they’ll beat him. Mikey is a different level talent than Campbell and Mendy. The best possible thing that the Campbell-Mendy winner can hope for is for Garcia to vacate or have his WBC title stripped from him by the World Boxing Council for failing to defend it. If Mikey loses his WBC title, then the Campbell vs. Mendy winner can slide in and potentially snatch the vacant WBC title unless the WBC requires them to face #3 WBC Richard Commey or #4 Zaur Abdullaev for the belt. I would favor Mendy and Campbell over those guys, but it would still take time to get those fights scheduled to take place. We’re probably looking at sometime in late 2019 before the Campbell vs. Mendy winner finds out whether they’ll be fighting Garcia for the title or not. There’s also the remote possibility that the WBC could install the Mendy-Campbell winner as the new WBC lightweight title if Garcia vacates or is stripped of the belt. Mendy beat Campbell by a 12 round split decision in 2015. Mendy dropped Campbell in the fight and belted him around the ring in a fairly one-sided fight. One judge [John Keane from the UK] unbelievably scored the fight in Campbell’s favor 115-113. The other two judges had their feet planted firmly on the ground in scoring it in a more logical manner in giving it to Mendy by the scores 115-112 and 115-113. Boxing News 24 had Mendy winning 8 rounds to 4. Campbell had his moments in the fight, but he was getting rocked by Mendy and dominated each time he would get any momentum going in the match.
The rest of the card is a mixed bag of domestic level fighters that lack the talent to ever win a world title. Cruiserweight Lawrence Okolie (9-0, 7 KOs) is a perfect example of that. He’s a flawed fighter with good power, but a poor chin and limited boxing skills. His future outlook is dim on the world scene but he’s a good domestic level scraper. Okolie will be fighting Matty Askin (23-3-1, 15 KOs) tonight on the Joshua-Povetkin card. It’s a fight for domestic consumption only, as the casual American boxing fans haven’t heard of these guys and don’t follow them. It’s unknown if Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn will have the Okolie vs. Askin fight shown in the States on DAZN or not. It’s possible the fight will be shown, since the American boxing fans that subscribe to DAZN are paying $10 per month for the streaming service. Since the card is a pretty bare bones one involving Joshua-Povetkin and a likely woeful mismatch between the fragile-chinned David Price and Sergey Kuzmin, it’s important for at least a third fight to be shown. I’m not sure that Okolie will impress the fans with his performance because he’s so flawed. He looks like someone that would immediately implode if he were thrown into the ring with a good cruiserweight like Mairis Briedis, Oleksandr Usyk or Murat Gassiev. I can’t see Okolie making it out of the 1st round against those guys, which kind of tells how utterly vulnerable he is.
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