By Keith Idec
Deontay Wilder doesn’t consider Alexander Povetkin the easy way out for Anthony Joshua.
While Wilder obviously feels he is a more dangerous opponent for the British superstar than Povetkin, the unbeaten WBC heavyweight champion expects Povetkin to give Joshua trouble when they meet September 22 at Wembley Stadium in London. Joshua (21-0, 20 KOs) is heavily favored to beat the older, smaller Povetkin (34-1, 24 KOs), but Wilder could see the experienced Povetkin pulling off an upset.
“I think it’s definitely gonna be a difficult fight for Joshua,” Wilder told BoxingScene.com. “I think Povetkin is a good fighter. I really do think he’s a good fighter. I think he’s a smart fighter at times in the ring. I do think he has problems with tall fighters, but he’s smart. If you give him the opportunity, he will capitalize on it and he will get you out of there.”
The 38-year-old Povetkin got England’s David Price out of there in the fifth round of their back-and-forth battle on the Joshua-Joseph Parker undercard March 31 at Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales.
The 6-feet-8, 256-pound Price (22-5, 18 KOs) scored a knockdown against Povetkin in the third round because the ropes kept Povetkin from going down. Povetkin recovered, dropped Price in the fifth round and won by knockout.
That victory helped Povetkin maintain his status as the WBA’s mandatory challenger for Joshua. Once negotiations for a Joshua-Wilder showdown failed to result in a deal, an agreement quickly was reached for Povetkin to challenge Joshua, who’s 10 years younger, four inches taller and about 15 pounds heavier than his upcoming opponent.
Wilder (40-0, 39 KOs) is headed toward a November bout with another unbeaten British heavyweight, former champion Tyson Fury (25-0, 19 KOs). The Alabama-based knockout artist suggested Russia’s Povetkin could catch a distracted Joshua at just the right time.
“Joshua has so much on his mind, so much going on right now,” Wilder said. “He’s the man of his country. With that being said, when everybody knows you, you can be very miserable. Because everywhere he goes, of course they’re mentioning my name. He can’t get away from me. He probably thinks about me in his sleep because my name is mentioned so much. I know it. ‘When you gonna fight Wilder? Fight Wilder, you p*ssy! You’re a disgrace!’ This is what they’re saying now. The roles have reversed dramatically.
“I think this is gonna be a difficult fight for him because I don’t really think his mindset is gonna be in the right place. With this Povetkin fight, the fans aren’t supporting him as strongly as they once were.”
According to Eddie Hearn, Joshua’s promoter, more than 60,000 tickets have already been sold to the card headlined by Joshua-Povetkin. Joshua’s last fight at Wembley Stadium, his epic slugfest with Wladimir Klitschko, drew an approximate capacity crowd of 90,000 in April 2017.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.