Be forewarned, this is not a showcase affair for Joshua.
Joshua vs Povetkin is easily one of the best match-ups of the year. And while it's not Joshua vs Deontay Wilder, it might be the next best thing.
"He’s in a tough fight coming up with Povetkin. It’s a 50/50 fight," former heavyweight title-holder Shannon Briggs recently told ifLTV.
"Trust me, it’s going to be a war, if he can get past Joshua’s jab, if he can get inside and make it a fight. He’s very good at punching off the break, he’s very good at springing forward, this guy Povetkin. Very fast at springing forward."
"When it breaks he can get at you quick. If he can get inside of Joshua it’s going to be a problem."
Joshua vs Povetkin prediction
If AJ doesn't bring his A game and Povetkin does, we'll see the IBF/WBO titles change hands. In fact, I'm predicting just that.
I see Joshua doing well and using his size and athleticism to outbox Povetkin early but expect Alex to eventually stop AJ in the latter rounds.
Given Joseph Parker, despite dropping a wide decision, was able to land shots and mug Joshua at close quarters, the stronger, more experienced Povetkin will be able to execute a similar gameplan with more explosive punching.
Since 2014, I've been saying Povetkin is the most underrated fighter in boxing. Who cares if he's 39? Age won't play a role in tonight's outcome.
Klitschko vs Sanders 2003
Who remembers the Wladimir Klitschko vs Corrie Sanders shocker?
It was the 27 year old Klitschko's sixth defense of the lightly regarded WBO belt and Wlad was regarded by many as a top contender in the weight class and had just signed a nine-fight deal with HBO. Expected to be the future of heavyweight boxing, Wlad was riding high but 37 year old Corrie Sanders had other ideas.
Klitschko went down twice in the last minute of the first round, reeling around the ring as he tried to avoid Sanders' blows and then was dropped twice in the second. The fight was halted at 27 seconds into Round 2 and the upset was complete.
Wlad would eventually achieve greatness but not before taking his lumps early on in his career against Sanders.
Joshua vs Povetkin
UK: Sky Sports Box Office.
US: DAZN (Streaming platform)
Time: 4:30pm ET (US)
Joshua vs Povetkin prediction: Povetkin TKO 8 Joshua
- Like Povetkin, Sanders was dangerous but didn't have a lot of juice with the public so he was overlooked as just another showcase opponent.
- And Sanders, like Povetkin, was always dangerous and very adept at unleashing explosive powershots from multiple angles
- Joshua, like Wlad back then, was a young, red hot fighter with superior speed and reflexes who was suppossed to easily dispatch his foe.
- And like Klitschko back then, Joshua fights at home tonight and in front of his adoring fans.
In Wlad's defense, it's not uncommon for a young, overly confident, seemingly dominant fighter to get humbled by an older, more experienced, often overlooked foe.
In addition to Klitschko vs Sanders, consider Ray Mercer vs Larry Holmes, Bernard Hopkins vs Felix Trinidad and Iran Barkley vs Roberto Duran.
Why I like Povetkin
Amateur Pedigree: The 39-year Russian Olympic Gold medal winner is one of the most accomplished amateur heavyweights ever. And after winning the gold at the 2004 Summer Olympics, he finished his amateur career with a record of 125–7, with all losses avenged.
Experience: And sure, Joshua is a gold medalist too but he doesn't have the professional experience Povetkin boasts. Hence, in his extended amateur career and long stint as a pro, Povetkin has defeated everyone he's faced sans Wladimir Klitschko. He lost that fight via a decision tilt in a messy, mauling affair in 2013.
Povetkin's resume includes a knockout victory over former two-time heavyweight champion Chris Byrd and decision wins over former belt-holder Ruslan Chagaev, one-time heavyweight title challenger Eddie Chambers and former U.S. Olympians Jason Estrada and Larry Donald.
And Carlos Takam, the contender who fought well against Joshua before being dispatched in Round 10 last year, was KO'd brutally in the same round against Povetkin in 2014.
Technique: Povetkin has solid power in both hands and underrated hand-speed. He's also quite durable, has a great sense of awareness in the ring, closes the distance well, applies intelligent pressure, and is a fine combination puncher. And, yes, his timing and sense of range and ability to fight at angles are simply awesome. His proficiently at landing shots at angles where his opponent cannot land effectively is what makes him one of the most complete fighters in boxing today.
Power / Explosiveness / Durability: Povetkin has solid power in both hands, underrated hand-speed and is a fine combination puncher. Moreover, he boasts a good beard and has never been KO'd.
Anthony Joshua: The big intangible
AJ is a great fighter and may represent the future of heavyweight boxing; But is he mentally and physically prepared for tonight?
Didn't he seem a little too loose at the weigh-in?
As for all great, young champions, the biggest challenges are often fights like these. It's easy to get motivated for the high profile, high money superfights. But, it's fights like this against the 'Povetkins' of boxing that sometimes prove to be the biggest hurdle for up-and-coming stars.
Should Anthony Joshua win impressively tonight, he will have proven beyond reason he's deserves the right to be deemed the world's top heavyweight.
What's your Joshua vs Povetkin prediction?