By Keith Idec
Anthony Joshua is listed by numerous sports books as a 10-1 favorite over Alexander Povetkin.
Joshua’s promoter still thinks this will be Joshua’s most difficult professional fight other than the British superstar’s slugfest with Wladimir Klitschko. Eddie Hearn, managing director for Matchroom Boxing, assured reporters on a conference call Monday that Joshua is taking this mandatory defense of his WBA heavyweight title “extremely seriously.”
England’s Joshua (21-0, 20 KOs) and Russia’s Povetkin (34-1, 24 KOs) will meet September 22 before a crowd expected to exceed 90,000 at Wembley Stadium in London (Sky Sports Box Office; DAZN).
“For me,” Hearn said, “this is a fight where everybody in boxing is telling me, ‘This is a tough fight, you know?’ And this is a fight where, as AJ commented earlier, [Povetkin] doesn’t have necessarily the commercial value of other fighters. But when you look at the independent rankings – you know, we use The Ring magazine. He’s No. 3 in the world. So if you can’t take him seriously, then, as people say, you don’t know your boxing.”
The 28-year-old Joshua went the distance in his last fight for the first time since making his pro debut nearly five years ago. The 2012 Olympic gold medalist comfortably out-pointed previously unbeaten Joseph Parker (24-2, 18 KOs) in that 12-round fight to add the WBO title to his IBF, IBO and WBA championships.
Versus Povetkin, he’ll encounter a 39-year-old former WBA heavyweight champion who has lost only a 12-round unanimous decision to Klitschko in October 2013, on the same day Joshua made his pro debut.
“I think that the key here is [the development] of Anthony Joshua,” Hearn said. “This is his 22nd fight. And in that time, in that period, he has dealt with Dillian Whye, Dominic Breazeale, Wladimir Klitschko, Carlos Takam, Joseph Parker and after September 22nd, Alexander Povetkin, all within 22 fights. So what he’s continually doing is boxing the best in the world – the top 10, the other world champions, the legends, the guys who come in at short notice that could’ve potentially affected his style, and now, another mandatory challenger in Alexander Povetkin.”
Hearn anticipates a greater challenge from Povetkin than Parker provided.
He wouldn’t be surprised, either, if Povetkin gives Joshua even more trouble than Klitschko, who dropped Joshua in the sixth round of a back-and-forth fight Joshua won by 11th-round technical knockout in April 2017 at Wembley Stadium.
“In my opinion,” Hearn said, “this fight is Anthony’s toughest outside of Klitschko, and maybe even including Klitschko because of everything that’s at stake. So we take this threat extremely seriously. I think this is even a tougher fight, you know, than some of the fighters that are getting mentioned as future opponents. So I know that ultimately this will be a great fight for Anthony Joshua to show his improvements and to show that he is the very best heavyweight in the world.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.