The clock ticks down to Saturday night when Nigeria’s British born, Anthony Joshua will defend his WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO unified heavyweight titles against Alexander Povetkin at Wembley Stadium.
It will be his first since March 31 when he defeated Joseph Parker for the WBO heavyweight title by unanimous decision.
It was his first career fight to go the distance having had 20 consecutive knockout victories to help build his 21-0 record.
Will he resume his knack for knock outs? In his last fight in Wembley Stadium on April 29, 2017, Joshua knocked out Wladimir Klitschko in the 11th round to earn the vacant IBO heavyweight title and take Klitschko’s WBA heavyweight title.
Joshua himself has admitted that the fight with Russia’s Povetkin wil be his toughest ever. The Russian is fighting in his second bout this year after defeating David Price by knockout on March 31, the say day Joshua beat Joseph Parker.
Povetkin is 34-1 on his career with 24 knockouts. The one loss came at the hands of Klitschko back in 2013.
Povetkin’s career has been on a bit of an up-and-down in the recent past as failed drug tests in 2016 and 2017 kept him out of scheduled matches against Deontay Wilder and Bermane Stiverne, respectively.
According to Sports Illustrated, Saturday’s fight offers Povetkin a chance to win back the WBA title that he lost to Klitschko after four title defenses.
Standing at 6-foot-6 with an 82-inch reach, the 28-year-old Joshua has a noticeable size advantage over the 6-foot-2 Povetkin.
Add in that Povetkin is 39 and has just a 75-inch reach, and it gives reason to believe Joshua will be in a position to pick up the win the same way he did against the smaller Carlos Takem, who Joshua knocked out in the 10th round of their October 2017 match.
Povetkin has some solid experience punching up though, as he faced an even steeper size disadvantage in his victory over the 6-foot-8 Price earlier this year.
If Joshua gets the victory Saturday, it could set up a long-awaited bout with Wilder, who currently holds the WBC world heavyweight title and has a 40-0 record that includes 39 knockouts.
The two were working on getting a fight together for this year, but were unable to come to an agreement during their months of negotiations.
As they were still in talks, the WBA demanded Joshua face Povetkin or be stripped of the belt.
And if it is not Wilder next up, Joshua could find himself facing the 27-0 Tyson Fury after Povetkin.
Either way, Joshua is scheduled to have another fight at Wembley Stadium on April 13, 2019, but the opponent has not been decided.