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PREDICTION: Joshua Stops Povetkin

Robbi Paterson

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Tonight, ladies and gents, another AJ Blockbuster from Wembley Stadium awaits you. A near-on capacity crowd inside London’s world-famous, blood-red-seated theatre will scream and holler for their man, Anthony Joshua, a local to London’s demographic landscape being that he was born only 10 miles north in Watford, to hold onto his WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight hardware and give them a reason to return next April, which will more than likely be a Dillian Whyte rematch, or maybe, just maybe, if Eddie Hearn’s charm can put it together, a transatlantic showdown with the American, WBC belt holder Deontay Wilder.

Ok, let’s do it. Time to cut to the chase…

With Joshua coming in at 246lbs on the scales, that’s a good sign, as it’s in or around his optimum weight. He came in at 242lbs for his last fight, against Joseph Parker, in March, and looked extremely responsive in virtually every facet of his game. I think his performance against Parker has been somewhat slept on. He won at least 9 rounds, went the distance for the first time without any stamina issues, controlled the temp well behind his jab, attacked in spurts with power shots to keep Parker honest and did what he had to do against a cagey, mobile opponent. For me it was an equally educational learning curve as the Klitschko fight, but for different reasons.

Joshua, though, has an entirely different proposition in Povetkin—a shorter, more compact, explosive puncher than was Parker. Ok, Povetkin is never going to out-box Joshua at long-range, nor is he going to out-punch him there (not in theory, anyway), but he could prove to be devasting if he steps into mid-range and delivers looping right-hand counters over the top, or arcing left hooks around the side. Lazy jabs and defensive lapses from Joshua will likely be pounced upon by these type of punches.

While many see Povetkin as needing to get inside on Joshua, I disagree. Sure, it’s a safer zone for him compared to being on the outside, where he can definitely be bossed, and gives him opportunities to score to the body with his shorter arms, but it’s not really his domain when it comes to putting opponents to sleep. Mid-range is the alarming bell-ringing area Joshua needs to be most concerned about. For any further evidence needed on that take, check out Poevtkin’s 5th-round stoppage of skyscraper-high David Price on the Joshua-Parker undercard.

I’m a firm believer that Joshua, faced with a significantly shorter opponent who’s a hooker, should opt to go long and straight down the pipe from the onset. He’s the younger, fresher guy with all the physical advantages on his side, so he should use them. He’ll look to keep the shorter Povetkin occupied on the outside behind his jab—a jab that was used to decent effect against Parker—which will, in the main, keep the Russian fairly limited from doing what he wants to do. And during those nervy moments when Povetkin does slither himself into mid-range or deep inside, Joshua has an equalizer lying in wait—his uppercut. And that might well prove to be the most important weapon during the fight for AJ. If he breaks down Povetkin, systematically, round after round, expect the uppercut to be doing damage.

The danger window for Joshua, 28, is within the first 4 rounds. But, even then, he’s probably going to be just as dangerous for Povetkin over the first third of the fight as Povetkin is for him.

But, when all is said and done, the 39-year-old, PED-tainted Povetkin won’t receive a congratulatory call from Russia’s president Vladimir Putin just before midnight.

It’s Joshua between rounds six and nine, folks.

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