It was a tough encounter for the unified heavyweight champion, but his right hand changed things quickly.
Anthony Joshua (22-0, 21 KOs) went through seven rounds before he stopped Alexander Povetkin (34-2, 24 KOs) at Wembley Stadium to retain the IBO, WBO, IBF, and WBA “super” heavyweight championships in front of a crowd of over 80,000 people. Joshua successfully defends the WBA title against his mandatory and is one step closer to going for the undisputed heavyweight championship of the world. He also becomes the first to stop Povetkin in his professional career.
Many expected this fight to be a fairly skilled encounter and that is exactly what happened. The two Olympic gold medalists were looking for openings on each other and in the first round that is what Povetkin was able to do through Joshua’s jab. Near the end of the round, Povetkin was able to get in a combination that included an uppercut which had Joshua step back a couple of times. “AJ” also had his nose bloodied in the first round. In the 2nd round, Joshua used the jab to the body more to stop the momentum of Povetkin and then used the jab up top to control the range against his opponent. He started to time Povetkin’s attacks better in that round and was able to avoid the hooks that Povetkin was throwing.
While Joshua was timing Povetkin more as the rounds went on, he was getting hit a few times by Povetkin when they were both up close. The right hand was landing on Joshua on the inside, but the left hook was missing its target as Joshua stepped back as Povetkin attempted to throw it. Into Round 4, the left eye of Povetkin started to open up due to right hands by Joshua and bothered him during the round. Round 5 looked to be a round for Povetkin finding his range inside Joshua’s jab as he was anticipating that then reacting to it with left and right hooks.
After a few combinations were thrown by Joshua in Round 6, the jab to the body opened up the right hook to the head which wobbled Povetkin in Round 7. Joshua had his opponent in trouble, then a right hook-left hook combo dropped Povetkin with 1:27 left in the round. It took up to a count of 8 for Povetkin to get up, but he was out on his feet. A flurry by Joshua had Povetkin stumbling back and the fight was stopped with one minute left in Round 7 as referee Steve Gray stepped in while Povetkin’s corner was on the ropes to have the fight stopped.
It was the first stoppage loss of Povetkin’s career, and starts a new streak of KO victories for Joshua after winning the WBO title by decision over Joseph Parker in March. After finishing the fight, Joshua gave his thoughts on the former WBA regular heavyweight champion.
“Alexander Povetkin is a very tough challenger,” he remarked. “He proved that tonight with good left hooks and counterpunches…I realized he was strong to the head, but I know that he was weak to the body…it could have took 7, maybe 9 maybe 12 rounds to get him out of there but the ultimate goal to be victorious tonight.”
He also spoke about the performance that he had in Wembley Stadium and what may be ahead for him as he is booked to fight at Wembley once again on April 13th, 2019.
“There was a lot of pressure…the whole country is rooting for us. I’m a heavyweight, I’m a world champion…the energy in here spears you on.”
“With my critics, I look at them not like my enemies, but as my friends, because they look at the smallest things in you to make you perfect… I look back at the feedback of people who support me and my critics on where I need to improve again.”
“My number 1 choice would be Wilder (for April 13th)…let’s not talk about number 2, number 3.”
Deontay Wilder is in line to face Tyson Fury at the end of the year. If he gets through that fight with a win, then a potential clash with AJ would be huge. We will see what happens with that fight and what that will mean to the heavyweight picture, but as for now Joshua is at the top of the division with his win over Povetkin.
Cover photo by Matchroom Boxing