The undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, Anthony Joshua, has just announced his next opponent.
AJ will take on Alexander Povetkin, the powerful Russian, in a winner-takes-all battle set for Wembley Stadium on September 22.
The Brit will put his WBA, WBC, WBO and IBF titles on the belt against Povetkin, who has battled his way into the position of number one challenger.
It was thought that Deontay Wilder was likely to be Joshua’s next opponent, but the American is proving to be a tough negotiator and Eddie Hearn, sensing a goldmine as ever, will let the bad blood between the pair continue until a winter blockbuster can be arranged.
This is Joshua’s first defence as the undisputed king after ripping Joseph Parker’s WBO belt from around his waist with a unanimous points victory.
And the bookmakers would have you think that this is another comfy runout for AJ, who has been installed as the 1/10 favourite with the sportsbooks. Povetkin, a former Olympic champion, is considered little more than an outsider at 6/1.
But is that fair? And could the Russian provide AJ with the sternest examination of his professional career so far?
Who is Alexander Povetkin?
The 38-year-old has enjoyed a fine career, and has lost just one of his 35 fights against a Wladimir Klitschko very much in his prime back in 2013.
But his CV is littered with victories against heavyweights that are very much shorter in stature: the likes of Mike Perez, Carlos Takam, Manuel Charr and Andriy Rudenko are all lacking in height compared to Joshua.
Povetkin has beaten bigger men – Mariusz Wach and David Price are mountainous – but neither is an elite-level performer.
So this will be a new examination of the Russian’s skills, and he will need to find a higher gear: he hasn’t fought anyone of a higher class since Klitschko five years ago.
But that’s not to doubt his pedigree. Povetkin is an Olympic gold medallist, much like Joshua, and he has only lost once in a professional career dating back over a decade; he certainly has the experience advantage over his younger opponent.
Failed drugs tests and suspensions have diluted the career of an excellent fighter, and at 38 this is Povetkin’s final chance of hitting the boxing big time.
Can He Beat Joshua?
The beauty of boxing betting is that anything can happen. Buster Douglas KO’ing Mike Tyson, Hasim Rahman defeating Lennox Lewis, Tyson Fury wrestling numerous belts from the ‘unbeatable’ Klitschko in his adopted German homeland; all of those were huge upsets as far as the bookies were concerned.
So yes, Povetkin can beat Joshua given his class, experience and ring nous.
But at this moment in time, AJ has the world at his feet, and he will boast numerous physical advantages over the Russian. He is the younger man by a clear decade and so boasts the speed advantage, but he will also have the benefit of extra power attained from a base of 6ft 6in in height and a reach of 82in – some 7in longer than Povetkin’s.
That suggests that AJ will beat Povetkin to the punch, quite literally, and those concussive jabs that Joshua throws can really slow an opponent down; as we’ve seen against Parker and others.
Anthony Joshua training for Povetkin!#boxing #BoxOffice #boxeo #boxe#AJBXNG #BombZquad #furypianeta #furywilder #boxingnews #Fight pic.twitter.com/mrk5w7f3al
— THE BOXING WORLD (@TheBoxing_World) August 17, 2018
AJ’s last three wins have all come deep into the contest, and while he took his time to fathom out Klitschko there can be no doubting his dominance over Carlos Takam and Parker even if those bouts went a long way.
Povetkin will find a way to get inside AJ, will land some punches and will attempt to turn the fight into something of a dirty brawl with lots of holding and frustrating tactics.
But the cuts he sustained against Wach, and the success that David Price had in patches against him, suggests that the Russian struggles against bigger opponents, and they don’t come much bigger than AJ.
Povetkin has never been knocked out, and despite Joshua’s obvious power we don’t necessarily expect that record to change anytime soon.
Ad so backing AJ to win on points, at a very generous 4/1, has to be the way to go.