Joshua vs Povetkin: AJ to be taken the distance
The extent to which Anthony Joshua has seized hold of the heavyweight division since his win over Wladimir Klitschko last year is evident in the prohibitive odds which accompany his next bout against Alexander Povetkin on Saturday.
Fight night information
When is it? Saturday 22nd September
What time will it start? 22:00
Where is it? Wembley
Which channel is it on? Sky Sports Box Office
Few if any other fighters could fill Wembley for what is ostensibly a marking-time fight ahead of potentially giant unification matches against the likes of Deontay Wilder or Tyson Fury.
By the same score, few could afford to take Povetkin so lightly.
The experienced and durable Russian has held various fringe versions of the title since 2011, yet few outside the boxing bubble would have known his name before he inked his fight with Joshua.
Of course, Joshua will rightly talk of the danger posed by Povetkin and will head into the contest at Wembley wary of making the kinds of mistake which could jeopardise those future money-spinning contests.
But it is a simple fact that for all Povetkin's awkwardness and ability to frustrate his opponents, his record offers up scant evidence that he is capable of belatedly breaking through as a bona-fide heavyweight champion on Saturday night.
Joshua cannot expect to have it all his own way. He looked relatively workmanlike in the way he dethroned WBO champion Joseph Parker in his last bout, and failed to impress against late replacement Carlos Takam in October last year.
The biggest danger surrounding Joshua is his ability to transcend his sport in terms of profile and popularity is accelerating on a trajectory which is not necessarily being matched by his boxing education.
It is all too easy forget that Joshua remains a relative novice by professional heavyweight boxing standards, just as he was wet behind the ears when he sprung to fame by claiming his London 2012 Olympic gold.
Bearing that in mind, the heavy-handed Povetkin - whose return to the top level is somewhat controversial having previously failed two drugs tests - can quite easily frustrate the British favourite and make it another of those boxing nights that is not exactly easy on the eye.
But it is hard to see where Povetkin can really threaten. Since the only loss on his record to Klitschko in 2013, the Russian has stopped opponents of the same calibre - and in Takam's case, the same name - as those who prop up Joshua's early record.
The wait is almost over... ⏰💥 pic.twitter.com/1fNAJPNiUL-- Sky Sports Boxing (@SkySportsBoxing) September 20, 2018
But he failed to secure stoppage wins over either Christian Hammer or Andriy Rudenko, and a fifth-round triumph over Joshua's fragile compatriot David Price last March highlights little other than the glaringly obvious in such heightened heavyweight company: it's best that he doesn't stick out his chin.
This is a good bout for Joshua as he prepares himself for sterner tests. It is a fight that will probably look closer than it actually is - especially from the back rows of Wembley - and he will doubtless learn some tough lessons along the way.
There is a chance that Joshua's youthful endeavour will buckle Povetkin, hampered as he is by advancing years and spells of inactivity, in the final stages of the contest with 13/2 the Brit wins between rounds 10-12 the first of our Joshua vs Povetkin predictions, with 25/1 on Joshua in the last looking relatively tempting.
But by far the most favoured outcome is Joshua to win on points at odds of 7/2, continuing his reign and further embellishing his status as the man to drag heavyweight boxing into a bright new era.
Joshua vs Povetkin Betting Tips
Traders' Tips - View from the trading floor
Anthony Joshua has gone on record as saying he believes Povetkin will pose the second biggest threat to him in his professional career to date, after Wladimir Klitschko which is a notable statement in itself as some of his other opponents looked tougher on paper. Joshua has also been notably downbeat in the lead up to this bout, and seems to be preparing himself for a 12-round war. Povetkin poses many threats, power and durability being his main two assets, and he will look to expose any weaknesses in Joshua's approach. To date, Joshua has been exceptional and his chin has stood up to any scrutiny but as we have seen against Carlos Takam, he can struggle to bully the smaller man when his range is taken away. Expect Povetkin to fight in the pocket, and somewhat mirror the approach that Takam took which dragged Joshua into the later rounds. I can see this fight going the 12 rounds, with Joshua just having too much class for Povetkin in the end.
Joshua vs Povetkin Early KO Special - Losing Round Betting stakes refunded as a Free Bet up to £/$/€20 if Joshua wins in rounds 1-3. Terms apply.