This past weekend, Anthony Joshua successfully defended his heavyweight titles with a return to destructive form over seasoned veteran Alexander Povetkin at London’s Wembley Stadium.
In what was a highly-anticipated championship showdown between two former Olympic gold medallists, the majority of commentators and observers had Povetkin winning the fight, before a devastating right hand sensationally dropped the Russian in the seventh round; from which he was ultimately unable to recover.
However, the early rounds were punctuated by tension as Povetkin menacing movements unsettled a cautious Joshua, who was holding the centre of the ring, clearly respectful of his opponent’s punching power. During the closing seconds of the first round, the thousands of typically vociferous Joshua supporters were silenced when Povetkin, expertly dipping into range, connected cleanly with a right uppercut, left hook combination that seemingly disorientated the champion.
Nursing an apparent broken nose with blood streaming from both nostrils, Joshua looked decidedly awkward, sluggish and more vulnerable than ever throughout the early proceedings, unable to produce the dominant fast start that many were expecting. Meanwhile, Povetkin, buoyed by his success in the opener, was at this point consistently landing well-timed punches with increased frequency, accuracy and conviction.
Although it was still Povetkin who was ostensibly enjoying success with the more telling shots, a re-energised Joshua finally regained his composure and began asserting his authority on the contest. The bigger man began moving around with more purpose, in addition to firing from the hip with a rangy left jab, both upstairs and downstairs.
Fortunately, for Joshua’s fans, the coveted killer blow came in round seven. After wobbling his man with a mighty left hook, the straight right threatened to send Povetkin spiralling out of the ring altogether. Povetkin courageously and predictably answered the count, but was subsequently once again smashed to the canvas by a vicious bombardment of blows, which prompted the referee’s timely intervention.
Following another highlight-reel triumph, Joshua effectively sated the more bloodthirsty sections of the audience who were left feeling dismayed with the less dramatic manner in which he had dispatched of Joseph Parker, six months ago. In clinically dispatching of such a well-respected challenger, Joshua has successfully retained his championship belts in addition to extending to his record to 22-0 with 21 knockouts.
Indeed, going forward, the Watford man knows that he possesses the punching power to hurt anybody; and fans also now have restored confidence in Joshua’s spiteful, predatory instincts, which – despite growing suggestions to the contrary, prior to the Povetkin fight – have not abandoned him.
This does not mean to say, of course, that Joshua is somehow beyond the development stages. He very much has the look of someone who is still in the process of cultivating a distinct in-ring identity, under trainer Robert McCracken. He is not, and may well never be, an imperious ring general in the mould of Lennox Lewis or Wladimir Klitschko. On the other hand, at times, it has to be said that, quite frankly, he resembled an uncomfortable imitation of the two on Saturday night.
However, what he has achieved after 22 fights is nothing short of unprecedented, and his attributes – including athleticism, strength, a sturdy chin, and an innate stubbornness associated with all the legendary heavyweights of the past – mean that he is regarded by most as the currently most formidable heavyweight in the world.
On the undercard, heavyweight David Price retired with an injury after four rounds with undefeated Russian prospect Sergey Kuzmin. In a dire and messy affair, Lawrence Okolie won a scrappy unanimous decision over Matty Askin to claim the British cruiserweight title, despite three point deductions. Finally, lightweight contender Luke Campbell skilfully navigated his way to a unanimous decision win over Yvan Mendy, avenging his 2015 loss.
Article by: Navi Gill
Follow Navi on Twitter at: @hombre_obscuro