By Keith Idec
Anthony Joshua is looking forward to responding ferociously when Alexander Povetkin inevitably tests him Saturday night.
Joshua said following an open workout Wednesday in London that he needs to “shut down” Povetkin early in their scheduled 12-round heavyweight title fight at Wembley Stadium.
If the big British superstar can do that and keep Povetkin from gaining confidence while challenging him in enemy territory, Joshua (21-0, 20 KOs) is certain he can become the first opponent to knock out Povetkin (34-1, 24 KOs).
Not even Wladimir Klitschko, who dropped Povetkin four times, was able to knock out the former WBA heavyweight champion. Ukraine’s Klitschko (64-5, 53 KOs) topped Povetkin by unanimous decision in their 12-round heavyweight championship unification fight nearly five years ago in Moscow.
“Hopefully,” Joshua said, “[I can] take him down in round eight.”
However their fight unfolds, the 28-year-old Joshua is prepared for a difficult fight.
Russia’s Povetkin is 39, but he is an experienced ex-champion who can punch. He’s much smaller than Joshua, yet just dangerous enough to ruin Joshua’s championship reign.
“I’m focused,” Joshua said. “I’ve come to a stage now where I have a deep [will] and my heart’s big. In sparring, I’ve tested myself time and time again. My coaches wonder what I’m doing in sparring, so sometimes I tell them to hit me because I know how to throw punches. I know how to fight, but the question is what I can take when it comes back.
“So with Povetkin, I’m completely focused, but also focused on having a good scrap and don’t mind coming away with a black eye and a cut nose, because I want to give a bit to take a bit.”
Joshua’s fight against Povetkin, the mandatory challenger for his WBA title, will headline a Sky Sports Box Office show in the United Kingdom (£19.95). It’ll also be the main event for the streaming service DAZN’s inaugural boxing offering in the United States ($9.99 per month).
“Although I’m 39 right now, I feel like I’m 25,” Povetkin said Wednesday. “This is a very important fight for me and, of course, this will be one of my last chances to make an impact, and I will.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.