By Tomi Pradarics
The dust barely settled around the biggest fight of this year between pound-for-pound stars Gennady Golovkin and Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez on Mexican Independence Day this past weekend in Las Vegas, the boxing world is preparing for another robust event between heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua and his WBA mandatory challenger, Alexander Povetkin on Saturday in London, England.
What Canelo is at the box offices in America, so is IBF/WBA/WBO unified belt holder Joshua (21-0, 20 KOs) on the east side of the pond. Proof of that is the venue of the British superstar’s ring return is the Wembley Stadium. The prestigious building has a capacity of ninety thousand.
Joshua vs Povetkin is a special matchup featuring Olympic gold medalists head to head against each other with an even more special carnage on the horizon for the winner against another meaningful heavyweight get-go between a pair of unbeaten top guys in lineal champion Tyson Fury and WBC titlist Deontay Wilder.
The magnitude of Saturday’s bout made dozens of insiders of the boxing sphere give their thoughts about the pairing and the match-up. The latest of them was promoter, manager, and matchmaker Al Siesta, who has a unique perspective regarding the main event of the Wembley show, as he is a Russian-born businessman who lives in the UK for over twenty years now.
“It’s funny because I speak and work on a regular basis with Matchroom, and I was saying to them I have a funny feeling about this fight,” Siesta, who also works on this upcoming event as a matchmaker, said to Adam Noble-Forcey in a recent interview.
“Anthony Joshua and his team cannot look past this fight and can definitely not take Povetkin for granted. You could argue this is Anthony’s toughest test to date. Povetkin is very game and loves to fight, this is his big opportunity and he has the whole nation of Russia behind him.”
Siesta thinks an upset win by a mentally and physically well-prepared Povetkin (34-1, 24 KOs) could cause big problems for the promotional company behind Joshua, as Matchroom Boxing is planning to kick-off a lucrative partnership with live sports streaming platform, DAZN with this upcoming show.
“If you look at this fight with more detail, it could really change the whole world of boxing. If Povetkin wins it will throw up loads of problems in terms of the complexity on how Matchroom progress in America and it could affect the DAZN deal. Anthony Joshua is the crown of Matchroom as we speak. If he loses it throws potential fights with Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder into jeopardy, this fight really could change the world… if Povetkin can win and it’s a big if.”
“I have lived and worked in the UK for 20 years now and am proud to call myself an adopted Englishman, my wife and children are English so am a little bit torn between these two fighters. However, I am Russian after all and will always consider my nationality to be Russian, but I love both nations and am a fan of both fighters,” stated the Russian businessman about his mixed feelings regarding the pairing.
“My head tells me that Joshua will win by stoppage in the later rounds, but my heart tells me that Sasha might be able to find a way to beat the champ. We have seen Anthony get rocked on a couple of occasions and against Klitschko he hit the canvas, saying that I believe Anthony has improved since the Klitschko fight, I’m not too sure Povetkin has improved in the last couple of years. If anything, his ability has decreased over the last couple of years.”
Siesta thinks a good working relationship in boxing between the UK and Russia is among the things that can happen and could easily lead to bigger and better things in the future.
“I believe this is going to be a great fight and I’m delighted to see the UK and Russia working closer than ever before in this great sport. I would consider the passion for boxing in Russia and the UK to be the greatest on the planet. It’s great for boxing that we are seeing the best Russian fighters going up against the best UK fighters, it’s great for the fans and I truly believe it will produce some of the best fights we have ever seen.”
Joshua vs Povetkin will be televised live on Sky Sports Box Office in the UK and DAZN in the US.
You can reach Tamas Pradarics at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @TomiPradarics.