By: Sean Crose
After much hype and speculation about multi-tilist Anthony Joshua facing off against WBC titlist Deontay Wilder in a superfight for heavyweight supremacy, news has arrived that a Joshua-Wilder match won’t be happening in the near future. Instead, England’s Joshua will be facing Russia’s Alexander Povetkin, a mandatory for Joshua’s WBA belt. “We’re fighting Povetkin in September,” said Joshua promoter Eddie Hearn, “and we’re looking at multiple venues and dates.”
The thirty eight year old Povetkin was supposed to fight Wilder in May of 2016, but Povetkin tested positive for the banned substance meldonium, which led to the bout being scratched. Known as a formidable heavyweight, Povetkin’s one loss in 35 fights came against Wladimir Klitschko back when the Ukrainian dominated the division in 2013. Since that time, Povetkin has gone on to win eight straight, his last victory being a fifth round knockout of David Price in March of this year.
Joshua, on the other hand, boasts a 21-0 record and has ended all but one fight by knockout. He’s known to sell out entire stadiums in Great Britain and is now regarded as the sport’s biggest star aside from Canelo Alvarez. The WBA reportedly demanded Joshua fight Povetkin, under the threat of taking their title from around his waist.
“The WBA have allowed over a month extension to negotiations with Povetkin and also ongoing discussions with Deontay Wilder,” WBA President Gilberto Mendoza claimed on Tuesday. “It appears the Wilder team have not returned the contract for the fight and therefore we are requesting a date for the Joshua versus Povetkin fight with immediate effect.” Hearn subsequently responded that team Wilder would adhere to the WBA’s demands.
Some took to the internet to declare that the entire matter was concocted so that Joshua could avoid Wilder, his 40-0 American counterpart (like Joshua, Wilder has won all but one of his victories by knockout). Although both camps blame the other for a Joshua-Wilder throwdown not happening in the fall, Hearn has taken to pushing the chances of Povetkin in the September contest. “I think it’s a mad fight to take with the Wilder fight at the door,” said Hearn of the Povetkin bout, “but that’s AJ.”
“By (Joshua) fighting these guys,” Hearn claimed, “Wilder can’t say he’s afraid to fight him.” Wilder’s very public comments on the matter have suggested otherwise. “You coward ass bitch,” Wilder tweeted on Tuesday. “Had the world waiting for 3 months playing games just for this moment. You’re not a true champion!! You’re just a weak minded coward that’s holding hard metal. #Facts”
The most telling quote on the entire matter may have come from former heavyweight king Lennox Lewis, who weighed in on Thursday. “They way I see, it” he tweeted, “AJ is the man. He gets to choose time and place for first fight. I’d make Wilder come to me also… but from what I see from Wilder, he’s willing to… and this is same attitude i would have. When the HW division finally has a pulse, we need action not talk!”