By Keith Idec
Anthony Joshua’s mandatory WBA heavyweight title defense against Alexander Povetkin was officially announced Monday.
England’s Joshua (21-0, 20 KOs) will oppose Povetkin (34-1, 24 KOs) on September 22 at Wembley Stadium in London.
“I can’t wait to get back in the ring,” Joshua said in a press release. “The end of March feels like a long time ago now. Povetkin is a serious challenge that I will prepare meticulously for. He has serious pedigree, and only a fool would underestimate what he brings to the table.”
In his last fight, the 28-year-old British superstar defeated New Zealand’s Joseph Parker (24-1, 18 KOs) by unanimous decision March 31 in Cardiff, Wales. Joshua added Parker’s WBO title to his IBF, IBO and WBA crowns when he out-pointed Parker in their 12-rounder at Principality Stadium.
“Training hasn’t stopped for me,” Joshua said, “but the next 10 weeks ahead will be intense, both mentally and physically. I will push myself to breaking point to make sure I am in peak condition for another huge night for British boxing at Wembley Stadium on September 22.”
The 38-year-old Povetkin, a former WBA heavyweight champ, knocked out England’s David Price (22-5, 18 KOs) in the fifth round of his last fight. The Russian contender’s victory over Price was part of the Joshua-Parker undercard.
The WBA ordered Eddie Hearn, Joshua’s promoter, and Andrey Ryabinskiy, Povetkin’s promoter, to finalize a deal for their mandated championship match last month when negotiations stalled for a heavyweight title unification bout between Joshua and WBC champ Deontay Wilder (40-0, 39 KOs).
“The battle for the world title has always been my goal,” Povetkin said. “I fought for the moment to face the strongest in the world, and on September 22 I get my opportunity. Anthony Joshua has four belts and I want them all. I’m glad that our fight will finally take place. The meeting of two Olympic champions in the ring is destined to be a breathtaking event.”
Povetkin has lost only a unanimous decision to former champ Wladimir Klitschko (64-5, 53 KOs) in October 2013 in Moscow. In the past two years, Povetkin twice has tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.