Anthony Joshua returns to Wembley tonight in a heavyweight world title unification showdown with Alexander Povetkin of Russia.
ovetkin, who won Olympic gold in 2004, is the mandatory challenger for the WBA title – but all four of Joshua’s divisional belts will also be on the line in London.
The Russian was granted a world title shot after Joshua failed to negotiate a fight with Deontay Wilder. But before targeting Deontay Wilder’s WBC belt to complete his collection, Nigerian born-British boxer must overcome a grueling test against WBA mandatory challenger, Alexander Povetkin, Povetkin represents a fearsome challenge for Joshua having only tasted defeat once in his career.
It will be a stern test. Povetkin has lost just one of his 35 fights, losing on points to the great Wladimir Klitschko in October 2013. Since then he has won eight consecutive fights, including a knockout victory over David Price on the Joshua-Parker undercard. Ominously, he has never been stopped.
Meanwhile Joshua will be looking to extend his flawless professional record to 22-0 in his third fight at Wembley Stadium.
How did these two boxers get here?
Anthony Joshua is what the world has wanted in a Heavyweight champion for a very long time. He’s exciting, he’s heavy-handed, he’s technically superb, he creates spectacles in his fights – he’s a great champion. Ever since his 2012 Olympic gold medal he’s been on a path to stardom, but he really made his mark with his 2017 win over Klitschko. That was the best Heavyweight boxing fight in many, many years and proof that Joshua belonged at the top, silencing complaints that he was too hyped too fast. Last time out, he faced fellow new generation Heavyweight Joseph Parker, and for the first time ever, Joshua was taken to a decision, though still a completely dominant decision.
Alexander Povetkin is a 13 year pro, who, like Joshua, started his career as an Olympic gold medalist – though a full decade before Joshua at the 2004 games. He went undefeated for 8 years and 26 fights before getting a shot at Wladimir Klitschko, ultimately losing a very Klitschko style decision. Povetkin is 8-0 since, but the big story of his recent career is all about drug tests. Povetkin has failed two, and both times it has led to a very high profile fight cancellation – first against Wilder, then against Bermane Stiverne. Along the way, he received a lifetime ban from the WBC which was later rescinded. At 39, and with his spotty history, this is likely his last shot at the major titles.
What can fans expect?
If this was the Povetkin of a few years ago (and, it must be said, the Povetkin competing under less stringent drug testing), he would be a serious threat to Joshua – the kind of technically solid, wise veteran who can ruin plans. But he’s now 39, and you have to go back to 2015 to find him in a fight against a solid opponent without any sort of caveat. It also doesn’t bode well for him that his lone loss came against Klitschko, who exploited the size difference in a way Joshua can as well. Povetkin is tough, but Joshua’s hands are no joke, and could use his jab effectively, then turn up the heat as things get deeper and put Povetkin away late.
How much will the winner get?
As the home fighter and more high profile of the two, Joshua is expected to pocket significantly more than his challenger.
It is believed that Joshua will earn 20 million pounds and Povetkin 6 million pounds.
The fight is tracking to break the 1.2million pay per view record buys for a boxing event in the UK.
Joshua has called on the British public to support him after he fielded criticism for failure to secure a fight with Deontay Wilder.