SAN DIEGO, Calif., Sept. 22, 2018 – Fifty degree temperatures on a rainy night couldn’t stop 68,000 fans from packing Wembley Stadium in London to see their hero, British heavyweight Anthony Joshua. The unified WBA/WBO/IBF heavyweight champion rewarded the fans by stopping Alexander Povetkin of Russia (34-2-0, 24 KOs) in the seventh round to remain undefeated (21-0, 20 KOs) and restart his knockout streak. It was the first stoppage in the 39-year-old Russian’s professional career.
“It could have taken seven, maybe nine, maybe ten rounds,” said Joshua. “It was a clever fight. Sometimes I could be boring. But it’s getting there in the end,” said Joshua.
“He come in tonight, it’s his chance to get his hands on the title. It only takes one punch. I had to box clever, make him miss, and make him pay,” said Joshua. “Alexander Povetkin is a very tough challenger, he proved that tonight with a good left hand, good counterpunches.”
Povetkin off to a strong start, winning on the scorecards
Povetkin was doing more than proving it during the early rounds of the fight. He stayed light on his feet and agile, staying out of range of the long Joshua jab by driving power punches up from the feet, lunging in and delivering the left hook and upper cuts, then stepping away. Povetkin was all motion and feints. It was the best possible version of Povetkin, and it was working. Joshua could not get set and had to be patient.
Meanwhile, Povetkin was racking up rounds on the scorecards. He was more active and landing more power punches with greater accuracy. Through the halfway point, Povetkin was up on many cards including ours by four rounds to two.
But Joshua can end a fight at any time, and he did with a thunderous right hand in the seventh round that dropped Povetkin to his knees and nearly sent him out of the ring. Povetkin gamely got to his feet, and convinced referee Steve Gray to let him continue. He moved forward but the Russian had nothing left to offer. Joshua sent him to the canvas again, and Gray stopped the bout at 1:59 of the seventh round just as Povetkin’s corner was also calling for an end to the fight.
Joshua: Pressure of fighting for the British boxing fans
Joshua admitted to feeling pressure fighting in front of the British boxing fans. “Yeah, there’s a lot of pressure no doubt, I’m not going to lie. The whole country’s rooting for us,” said Joshua, speaking for other British boxing stars. “If it was just about me, I’d just come in here and have fun.”
Joshua said a few years prior, he wouldn’t have beaten Povetkin. He credited his entire team with the victory. “It’s about developing. Sugar Ray Robinson lost, that shows you how tough this game is … The tougher the challenge, the harder the performance, the more you learn.”
Heavyweight showdown in the works for 2019
After Joshua’s previous fight with Joseph Parker in March, the champion and his manager Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing waved off any direct talk about Deontay Wilder. Not this time.
“April 13th is what I’m really interested in here at Wembley Stadium … May the champion bring himself to the UK, let’s have a good dust up,” said Joshua. Asked who he prefers, he said “My number one would be (American Deontay) Wilder … He needs to win in December and then we need to get the little bits out of the way.”
Joshua must win his December bout against Tyson Fury first. Assuming Wilder does his part, the world’s two top heavyweights will be in position to deliver the big show the boxing world can’t wait to see.
American fans could watch the fight live for the first time using the newly launched DAZN streaming platform. It performed well without major hiccups other than the occasional buffering moment.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is a veteran boxing observer covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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