The heavyweight boxing scene these days is looking increasingly exciting for fans. I don’t think I’ve been this interested in the weight-category since the reign of Lennox Lewis back in the 2000s. On the horizon and looking to break into the upper-echelons of the division there’s British fighters such as the hard hitting Daniel Dubois and dark-horse Nathan Gorman, both of who are still plying their trade but steadily making their way through the rankings; and from the current title contenders you have the likes of Dillian Whyte who is willing to fight anyone anywhere, the underrated Hughie Fury and a tough battler in Adam Kownacki who has just broke into the top-ten rankings, and all of who will be looking to take that coveted NO1 spot currently occupied by Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder.
Add Tyson Fury, Joseph Parker and perhaps even Vladmir Klitschko, who are either looking to redeem themselves or prove the doubters wrong, and the heavyweight division becomes more colourful and stylistically intriguing than it has been in years.
There’s also one other fighter in the form of Alexander Povetkin to add to that above list of contenders looking to be ‘numero-uno’, and he gets his chance to go straight to the top this coming Saturday at a packed Wembley Stadium against our country’s very own Anthony Joshua.
Most casual pundits and fans seem to think that this will be a formality or another ‘number’ for Joshua, but beneath the media-hype it’s actually a dangerous fight for him in the ring and especially when you consider where he is in terms of his career; a loss at this juncture would erase any ideas of a potential mega showdown between Tyson Fury or Deontay Wilder next year, in order to settle who is the best heavyweight on the planet and a chance for them to make history.
We know A.J. will be physically prepared for this, as he is always in good-shape, but will he be mentally on point?
You have to ask, considering he’s consistently immured in speculative talks of mega-money events and superlatives from the media. He seems humble and grounded enough to spot the dangers when it comes to material distractions or ingratiating fan or media chat, but while on the subject of money and to quote former Intel CEO, Andy Grove, who took the gargantuan technology company’s market capitalisation from $4 billion to $197 billion:
“Success breeds complacency. Complacency breeds failure. Only the paranoid survive.”
With that in mind, it’s worth considering that the stout Russian battler he will be facing this coming Saturday has a 34(24KOs)-1-0 record that includes the scalp and knockout of former Joshua challenger Carlos Takam(who AJ failed to KO himself) and a Decision loss to another old adversary in a peak Vladmir Klitschko.
That should be enough to tell us that he is durable and can ‘punch’.
He also has a standout amateur background, that includes winning a Gold medal at the 2004 Olympic games in Athens and compiled an overall 125–7 record before turning pro.
Even at his advanced 39 years of age, he has to be taken serious by the British heavyweight and maybe more so than any other opponent due to situation he is in with his career?
With that said, there’s no doubt Joshua has the ‘head’ for the situation and occasion, and also the capability to flatten his opponent early due to his own power and the vulnerabilities and flaws presented by Povetkin’s combative style, but the Russian also has the experience, power and durability to turn the fight in his favor if Joshua gets dragged into ‘deep-water’ or can’t make the fellow ex-Olympic champion respect him.
I don’t think it would be wise for AJ to stand and trade ‘straight of the bat’ as he did in that domestic ‘ding-dong’ affair he had against Whyte, as Povetkin, flaws aside, is faster on the inside than the fellow London based fighter and has a good left-hook to the body, which he sometimes like to throw before switching to his opponents head in order to work at short-range where he seems more comfortable to engage.
In fact, his whole game-plan is to get ‘in the pocket’ without haste and let loose and this is where Joshua could capitalize.
Povetkin’s slightly herky-jerky style doesn’t originate behind any meaningful or educated jabbing to set-up shots or to ‘soften’ his opponent with, he’s more inclined to use it as a range finder or distraction to then bob or come-up underneath his opponent in order to leap or spring into range to get off his hooks to the head or body, or to try land that dangerous over-hand right that he constantly seems to be looking to unleash.
I think if Joshua keeps him ‘long’, uses his underrated footwork to maintain an advantageous distance(much like he did in the Parker fight), while feinting to force him to close the gap with that predictable bobbing, he can look to catch him or counter as he moves in, in response.
Povetkin also has a habit of slightly over extending his arms while in his natural boxing stance and even when close or under pressure he doesn’t seem to retract them enough while being defensive, which can leave him susceptible to hooks and upper-cuts; AJ, like his counterpart, also has a very good left-hook and even better right-uppercut and could find success here by exploiting how his opponent ‘keeps his hands up’.
In addition, when the Russian is under fire, particularly with combinations, he doesn’t appear to have any natural inclination to cover-up or evade punches correctly and can at times look a bit disorientated, leaving himself open; a flaw that David Price, the unlucky Liverpudlian giant for spells had success in taking advantage of. This is a weakness of his game that I think Joshua can exploit, and over-all I can see him winning by systematically breaking down his opponent from range, before closing in and getting a KO or stoppage somewhere in the mid to late rounds, on the condition that he doesn’t get pulled into a dog-fight that suits the Russian’s style and where he might find ample opportunity to land that crushing over-hand right.
What’s your take on the fight this coming Saturday?
Feel free to comment.