Joshua v Povetkin: AJ wise to not underestimate Russian fighter
Preview and odds for Wembley bout
It might not be the fight he or his camp wanted, but Anthony Joshua will defend his WBA, IBF and WBO belts against Alexander Povetkin at Wembley on Saturday night.
AJ was hoping to secure a fight with Deontay Wilder, but talks fell through and Povetkin is the mandatory WBA challenger.
The 39-year-old Russian isn’t to be taken lightly, though. His only loss came against Wladimir Klitschko via unanimous decision back in 2013.
Many were hoping that this fight would finally see AJ face Wilder. Talks were on-going but an agreement couldn’t be reached.
That’s handed Joshua some criticism in the build-up to Saturday night. The 28-year-old has responded by saying he will not be ‘drained’ by the naysayers who wanted a Wilder showdown.
Povetkin is no mug. The Russian is 34-1 and knocked out David Price on the Joshua-Parker undercard in Cardiff. And like Joshua, he defeated Carlos Takam in 10 rounds.
Going all the way with Klitschko was no small feat either, especially given that the great Ukrainian was four years younger than when he took on Joshua as a 41-year-old in that famous 2017 bout.
The key stats are against Povetkin. He’s 11-years AJ’s senior and will be giving away four inches in height and seven in reach, but that didn’t stop him against the 6ft 8in Price, did it? He’s a respected fighter and Joshua has spoken highly of him in recent weeks.
Joshua has also spoken of how he’ll need to adapt his approach for Povetkin’s small frame, but he still heads to Wembley stadium as a confident 1/10 favourite.
After waltzing through his early fights inside three rounds, AJ has needed at least 10 against Takam, Klitschko and Parker. He’s 11/2 to win it in Rounds 10-12, while it’s 3/1 Joshua takes it on points.
Should Joshua win, then he is likely to have wide scope of choice for who he fights in an already-scheduled April date at Wembley.
Wilder remains the target, but Joshua and Eddie Hearn might again struggle to agree a deal.
That could open the door for Tyson Fury, especially if he comes through a likely-but-not-yet confirmed November or December fight with Wilder.
And waiting in the wings is Dillian Whyte. The Body Snatcher lost to Joshua in 2015 but his stock has never been higher after he beat Parker in July.
When is it?
Saturday night, 10pm
Where is it?
Wembley Stadium – it will be Joshua’s third fight under the arch
How can I watch it?
Sky Box Office
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All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing