It was pure class and dignity on display at Wembley Stadium on Thursday morning, as Anthony Joshua and Alexander Povetkin came face to face, and did a stare-down ahead of their Saturday night clash at the XXL entertainment facility.
The 28 year old Joshua admitted that he has loads of pressure on him, and that he expects Povetkin, a fellow Olympic gold medallist, to be a stern test. But, the Brit who is enjoying a level of popularity that has countrymen asking themselves what other Brit boxers have enjoyed a similar level of adulation, seemed overall loose and in a good space at this final presser.
Those looking for hijinks or pushing and barking, to up the ante, tough luck.
Promoter Eddie Hearn told the media assembled he thinks the AJ (21-0) v Povetkin (34-1) fight could set a record for British PPV, and he expects 80,000 butts in seats at Wembley.
Nope, no pull quotes or material which one side or the other will use to fire themselves up. Vadim Kornilov repped World of Boxing on stage and he lauded Hearn for being easy to deal with. He would like to see a trilogy between AJ and Povetkin, he said, no wonder, being that AJ is a magnetic draw in this region.
Povetkin is 39, and hasn’t been in with anybody in the neighborhood of the 21-0 AJ since his 2013 fight vs Wladimir Klitschko.
The Russian lost wide in that one, UD12, but told the press that he was in poor shape then as compared to for this fight. He said he’s “just as strong” as Joshua, but only promised a good fight, not a win on Saturday.
No, Joshua is no quote machine; his in ring technique is of a higher caliber than his media presence. He’s completely likable, no hint of jerkiness, and, as my cabbie on the way from Heathrow to the hotel said, the people here like a gentleman-champion. AJ is that…
US fight fans might be curious to know if AJ looked past Povetkin, to talk next. He has a Wembley date pre-saved, for April 13th and has said he’d like Deontay Wilder in the UK. But no, he wasn’t keen to ponder matters other than the Russian on this day.
“DAZN is different and we will quickly become an absolute must-have for fight fans,” said DAZN exec Joseph Markowski. “Via our partnerships with Matchroom, Bellator MMA, the World Boxing Super Series and Combate Americas, we will deliver more than 80 fight nights in our opening 12 months – and we’ll deliver them for just $9.99 per month after a one-month free trial. Superb value, without doubt. And that value offering is immediate from this weekend. If you sign up for DAZN today, you’ll get 14 premium boxing and MMA events from DAZN in your free trial month. That is unmatched value for U.S. fight sports fans. Full stop. Our entrance into the U.S. market has caused quite a stir. Since our launch announcement earlier in the year, we’ve seen other promoters and broadcast networks making their own grand announcements. It’s been a lot of fun to see how this has shaken up the community – because it only benefits fight fans as everyone steps up their game.”
And the main eventers’ stare down…did the pot get from simmer to boil? Nope; two consumate pros, dignified sportsmen who aren’t needing to try to get under the foes’ skin to try and gain an edge, looked hard into each others’ eyes. No one tried to feign Manson lamps.
My hope is that the fight will get to a boiling point. I suspect it will——the AJ edge in hand speed, in athleticism, and freshness will make Povetkin flash back to that night Klitschko showed him he was of a higher caliber. The challenge will be for AJ to give the fans that bang for their buck, and seek that pound of flesh finish. I believe he gets it.
In America, you can watch AJ v Povetkin on DAZN.com. It costs $9.99 a month, you can sample a month free if you like. The show starts at 1 PM ET on Saturday. The lead-in bouts include:
• Sergey Kuzmin vs. David Price – Heavyweights
• Matty Askin vs. Lawrence Okolie – Cruiserweights
• Luke Campbell vs. Yvan Mendy – Lightweights
LISTEN TO WOODS’ PODCAST IF YOU LIKE