On This Day: Joshua Stops Povetkin
By Sina Latif
The victory that’s aged well
On this day two years ago on 22nd September 2018, WBA (Super), IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua made a successful mandatory defence of his titles against Alexander Povetkin.
Joshua stopped the Russian veteran in the 7th round with a clinical finish at Wembley Stadium in front of around 80,000 initially nervous but ultimately delighted fans.
Joshua’s exhilarating win over Wladimir Klitschko at England’s national stadium 17 months prior is not one to ever be forgotten. Both fighters received the utmost respect for their performances. That was Joshua’s signature fight which launched him into boxing superstardom and could not have been scripted any better. He showed the heart of a true champion.
However, this fight, in which he became the first man to stop Povetkin during the Russian’s long and decorated professional career, was arguably Joshua’s best performance.
After Povetkins’ recent stoppage of dangerous British heavyweight contender Dillian Whyte with a hellacious and perfectly executed uppercut in which the Russian showed his pedigree, skill and power yet again, Joshua’s victory has certainly aged well and deserves respect and appreciation.
Although Joshua wasn’t dropped in this fight, he showed real character. This was a tougher fight than the masses had expected, as the Russian was hugely undermined in the lead-up. Povetkin brought the heat early and put AJ under a lot of pressure in the early rounds, landing some dangerous punches, notably with the overhand right and left hook.
But Joshua remained calm and patient under the pressure, and then showed predatory instincts to finish off the Russian once he had hurt Povetkin in a manner never done before, including by a prime Klitschko, the only man to previously beat the Russian via unanimous decision. Joshua reaffirmed that he is one of the best finishers in the heavyweight division for a long time.
Povetkin came out all guns blazing. Every punch was thrown with vicious intent. The raucous Wembley crowd cheering for Joshua did not faze Povetkin in the slightest. The Russian came out showing the composure of a champion and after bloodying Joshua’s nose in the first round, carried on the momentum through rounds two and three, landing more big shots.
Through the three rounds, Joshua’s composure was growing too, boxing well and becoming busier behind the jab, but it was clear that Joshua had found himself in a real fight.
Joshua gradually settled into the fight in the London rain and after cutting Povetkin above the left eye with an uppercut in the fourth round, Joshua impressively found his feet in the fight in the fifth and sixth, and started picking his punches really well. Then came the emphatic stoppage of Sasha in the seventh round.
Povetkin did show heart and bravery to rise from the canvas and temporarily delay celebrations after the first knockdown, but Joshua charged towards his 21st knockout in 22 fights with a barrage that forced the referee’s stoppage.
The fact that Joshua withstood Povetkins’ punches and the immense pressure he was put under for the first three rounds to then deconstruct the former Russian world champion and finish him in a composed and brutal manner showed that Joshua possesses the drive, determination and power of a real champion to overcome adversity.
Granted, after this fight, Joshua lost to huge underdog Andy Ruiz Jr and it is now late 2020 and he has still not faced the other elite high-profile names of the division such as Tyson Fury or Deontay Wilder.
But as we know Joshua did avenge that defeat against Ruiz in an immediate rematch, showing great discipline, composure and adaptability under tremendous pressure to win via unanimous decision.
With Fury vs Wilder’s rubber match anticipated to be happening in the coming months amidst the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, if the favourite, Fury, was to prevail, financial terms having already been agreed for two future fights between the two Brits.
Against Povetkin, Joshua overcame pressure against a crafty and quick power-puncher to finish the fight in style. Povetkin was an Olympic gold medalist in 2004 and had subsequently proceeded to start knocking grown men out in the professional ranks for years before Joshua had laced up a pair of gloves.
In the Russians’ previous outing a month ago, his devastating knockout against Whyte, still fresh in the memory of all who witnessed it, proves the danger the veteran possesses in those experienced fists. It also means the impressive nature of the manner in which Joshua overcame the challenges that night to knock out Povetkin has aged very well.
For Joshua to extinguish that fire and then finish ‘the White Lion’ in unprecedented fashion demonstrates Joshua’s composure under pressure, power and credentials, and also points to arguably the best win of the Brits’ career thus far in becoming the only man to stop the Russian during Povetkins’ illustrious 15 year pro career.