FIVE KEY FIGHTS
Insight from the crucial contests that brought us to this heavyweight clash
5. Anthony Joshua w rsf 11 Wladimir Klitschko April 29, 2017
THIS April 2017 humdinger answered plenty of questions we had about Anthony Joshua. Could he cope on the biggest stage in front of 90,000 people? Would he be able to take the punches of a world-class heavyweight? How would his stamina hold out should he be forced into the later rounds? And, frankly, was he truly good enough to beat an experienced, wellschooled heavyweight of Klitschko’s immense stature?
It’s fair to say the answers fluctuated during the course of the bout but the positives, by the time Klitschko was rescued in the 11th round, substantially outweighed the negatives. But the heavy knockdown Joshua suffered in the sixth and his energy dipping alarmingly should encourage someone with the educated spite and experience of Povetkin.
Ageing, albeit wise and highly dangerous, the Russian will likely be approaching this one just like Klitschko did – like his career depends on it. What we know is that Joshua will not be overawed by the accomplishments or reputation of his opponent, nor of the grand stage. And crucially, perhaps, Povetkin will be acutely aware that Joshua got the better of the only fighter to beat him in the professional ranks. And that beating Klitschko delivered to Povetkin in 2012 was one-sided, and illustrated why the challenger could struggle against someone as big, disciplined and skilled as Joshua.
4. Alexander Povetkin w ko 10 Carlos Takam October 24, 2014
IF Joshua performed better against common opponent Klitschko, it can be argued that another man to meet them both, Carlos Takam, was beaten more emphatically by Povetkin. Let’s forget, or at least not dwell, on the likelihood that Alexander was enhanced by illegal substances for this outing and focus on his performance. Bustling ahead, hands high and hurling his uppercut in close, he punished Takam’s in-fighting style time and again.
The slugfest exhibited several things. One, it would be daft for Joshua to come in all guns blazing and try and remove the Russian early. Povetkin thrives when his opponent forces the initiative and is arguably the finest in-fighter in the division. Two, he is – or was at this point – immensely tough. Takam, despite having some success with an uppercut of his own (one of Joshua’s favourite shots), could barely move Povetkin. The flipside, of course, is Povetkin is likely to be moved should he adopt a similar carefree approach against “AJ”.
Three, Povetkin grew stronger as the fight developed, even when under constant pressure. The highlight reel finish in round 10, far more conclusive than Joshua’s stoppage over the French-african, should also warn Joshua that he too could get flattened if he gets careless at any point.
3. Anthony Joshua w pts 12 Joseph Parker March 31, 2018
IF Povetkin is banking on Joshua taking unnecessary risks he should watch this 12-rounder again. Boxing to trainer Robert Mccracken’s orders, Joshua largely snuffed out the threat of Parker by keeping the action long and deliberate. There was little in the way of flash from Joshua in Cardiff; indeed this is arguably the least exciting contest of his career.
However, while outpointing Parker, he exhibited control and intelligence that was absent for large parts of the Klitschko thriller. Furthermore, the 28-year-old didn’t seem concerned about going 12 rounds for the first time and don’t be surprised if this safety-first approach becomes a trend rather than an aberration.
Critics said Joshua was out of ideas but watch closer and the favourite was disciplined. After getting carried away during the Dillian Whyte fight and taught some valuable lessons against Klitschko, Joshua is acutely aware that in boxing, the line between success and failure is a small one. If he didn’t take chances against Parker, don’t expect the old seek-anddestroy slugger to return against Povetkin.
2. Wladimir Klitschko w pts 12 Alexander Povetkin October 5, 2013
IT’S five years since Povetkin lost one of the most lopsided decisions in world heavyweight championship history to Klitschko. Eagerly awaited but badly received, Povetkin seemed devoid of ideas against his much taller opponent from the start.
Seemingly content to rush in and rough up his man, Povetkin was badly exposed by a fighter focused on staying out of trouble. That’s not to say Klitschko just picked and poked his way to his landslide success. While he was guilty of holding – unquestionably aware of his opponent’s prowess on the inside – Klitschko scored four knockdowns, the first via a left hook in round two then three in the seventh.
There was plenty of pluck in rising to last the course but Alexander’s showing was a great disappointment and highlights the issues he could have if Joshua opts to use his enormous advantages in height and reach.
At the end of 12 rounds he lost via three scores of 119-104, Klitschko failing to get the clean sweep only because he was deducted a point for bundling his opponent to the canvas in the 11th.
1. Alexander Povetkin w ko 5 David Price March 31, 2018
EYEBROWS were raised when Povetkin was invited over to the UK to feast on Price in a bout widely regarded as a mismatch going in. But it turned into a thriller and one that, when reviewed, makes it exceptionally hard to call the upset when he returns to these shores to challenge the IBF, WBA and WBO champion.
The good signs for Povetkin, who was not drug tested prior to this bout, were his power remains, his left hook is a hellacious weapon and the combination that led to the savage one-punch finish was excellently delivered. His footwork remains underrated, too. But at 38 (he’s since turned 39), he’s noticeably slower to get into position and when he does – as Price proved when he sent him reeling at the end of the third – he’s easier to hit than ever.
It’s true that Price’s power is exceptional but Joshua, one presumes, will not struggle to land his best punches although Povetkin – if he takes several in quick succession – will struggle to withstand them.