By: Kirk Jackson
Anthony Joshua 21-0 (20 KO’s) is scheduled to duel with mandatory WBA challenger Alexander Povetkin 34-1 (24 KO’s) at Wembley Stadium on Saturday night.
If triumphant, Joshua is expected to follow suit facing former foe Dillian Whyte at the same venue on April 13, 2019.
The 39-year-old former WBA heavyweight champion only tasted defeat once in his professional career, a loss to former unified heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko in 2013, where Povetkin suffered four knock downs in route to losing a unanimous decision.
Povetkin is what we can refer to as “Damage control.”
Povetkin is quite the accomplished fighter; strong amateur background, Olympic medalist, former world champion and possesses name recognition. This fight is designed for Joshua to leave an impression with the audience come Saturday night.
“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.”
On paper, Povetkin looks the part. And that’s not to say he doesn’t have a chance at all; he certainly has a puncher’s chance.
The former WBA heavyweight title-holder will have to overcome significant size disadvantage if he is to pull off a big upset Saturday night. The 39-year-old Russian weighed in at 222 lbs., more than 24 lbs. less than Anthony Joshua. The 6-feet-6 Joshua also stands about four inches taller than Povetkin.
This particular fight, match-up, favors the champion Anthony and is one that he can control. Joshua wants to seize and maintain control; whether it’s in the ring with his large frame and imposing jab along with matters outside the ring ranging from contract negotiations, weigh-ins, post-fight interviews, everything.
He wants control like his promoter Eddie Hearn.
Hearn wants control as far as owning fighters, selecting venue, dates and regulating the cash flow. This is to be expected of a successful promoter and businessman.
Everything is carefully orchestrated and carried out to plan. Joshua’s entrance song in his previous fight against Joseph Parker illustrated such.
Paid in Full by Eric B and Rakim informs the audience of Joshua’s intentions.
Famous lines such as, “Thinkin of a master plan, cause ain’t nothin but sweat inside my hand,” and continued with “So I start my mission, leave my residence, Thinkin how could I get some dead presidents?”
His walkthrough entrance, the fight with how the referee favorably kept the fighters from working on the inside, the post-fight interview sequence, disallowing the presence of Deontay Wilder to enter the ring (as there were negotiation talks at that time), everything coordinated like a political campaign.
The Olympic gold medalist and unified professional world champion Joshua is en route to accomplishing his goals; filling out arenas across the United Kingdom and winning world titles, but Joshua has yet to leave his place of residence.
Joshua wants world domination; he wants to be recognized as the baddest man on the planet, as Anthony Joshua, not Anthony Johnson.
His route towards that distinction includes a pit stop in the United States of America. Fellow compatriot Amir Khan believes as such.
“Yeah, if you want to be global, you have to go to America,” said Khan when speaking to David Anderson of the Daily Mirror. “My dream was to fight in Las Vegas, Madison Square Garden — all those places where Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson fought.
Joshua has yet to make his mark on American soil. Another landmark Joshua must consider, is if he wants to obtain heavyweight supremacy, he must go through American WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder 40-0 (39 KO’s) or the lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury 27-0 (19 KO’s).
Just told that the “dream” bouts under @BronzeBomber and Fury @STAPLESCenter would be a @leosantacruz2 Gary Russell Jr. featherweight unification and an @abnermares @Gervontaa title fight. That’d be an epic PPV…
— Lance Pugmire (@latimespugmire) September 20, 2018
With Wilder and Fury inching closer to a fight date, news of that match-up materializing takes some of the power away from Joshua as far as attention due to the importance of that bout between undefeated champions.
Especially considering there is a contingent of the boxing audience believing Joshua is avoiding a fight with Wilder.
Wilder was originally scheduled to fight Povetkin in Russia in the year of 2016. The fight failed to manifest due to failed drug tests from Povetkin.
Subsequently, Wilder defeated former champions Chris Arreola, Bermane Stirverne and one of boxing’s most avoided fighters Luis Ortiz.
Within that same timespan, Joshua defeated former champions Klitschko, Parker and contender Carlos Takam. Joshua facing Povetkin is just another measure of seizing control of the Wilder situation and implementing mind games.
In spite of the nuances of each situation, Joshua and Hearn can play public perception and state Joshua is the unified champion and is fighting opponents Wilder failed to face. They want to maintain control of the terms and conditions if they are to fight in the future.
Joshua vs. Povetkin is the first boxing main event for Eddie Hearn’s DAZN app/network. Hearn promotes Joshua and it makes sense for Joshua to be on the forefront debut of this service. Which may also explain the selection of Povetkin as an opponent for this particular fight, as opposed to seeing Joshua come to terms with facing the likes of Wilder?
Wilder is an uncontrollable variable – whether it’s in the ring with his style and controlled aggression, or outside the ring regarding negotiations for the biggest fight that can be conjured in all of combat sports.
Joshua should win this weekend and appear dominant while doing so. Everything is going as planned.