In­sight from the cru­cial con­tests that brought us to this heavy­weight clash

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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.

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