'Under pressure' Joshua promises to find a way against Povetkin
Anthony Joshua has admitted to feeling under “tons of pressure” ahead of his latest world heavyweight title defence against Russia’s Alexander Povetkin at London’s Wembley Stadium on Saturday.
Joshua, the 2012 Olympic champion, will be fighting in front of his home London crowd as he looks to extend his unbeaten professional record to 22 consecutive wins when he puts his International Boxing Federation, World Boxing Association and World Boxing Organisation titles on the line.
The fight sees Joshua returning to the scene of arguably his greatest triumph, an 11th-round stoppage of former champion Wladimir Klitschko last year.
But he will be under particular pressure to deliver this time around. Many boxing fans had hoped this weekend would see Joshua up against World Boxing Council heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder.
Negotiations with the American’s camp have proved fruitless, although whether that’s the fault of Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn, Wilder’s management or some combination of both – the often protracted nature of talks before a ‘mega fight’ actually takes place makes it difficult to say.
That Britain’s Tyson Fury, himself a former world heavyweight champion, is set to meet Wilder in Las Vegas in November, as he continues his comeback to the ring is a reminder that Joshua is not the ‘only show in town’, either domestically or internationally.
Joshua’s last fight saw the 28-year-old taken the distance for the first time in his professional career, but he secured a unanimous decision over New Zealand’s Joseph Parker in Cardiff in March.
“There’s loads of pressure; tons of pressure,” Joshua told a Wembley news conference on Thursday. “That’s the reality.
“You’re calm and collected but underneath it all it’s the reality. We both know what we are in for. It’s the same with every fight.
“What more can I do than give my best? I’ll go out there and find a way to win.”
Joshua added: “I know I have a lot of fire in my belly; that’s just as important as skills.
“Skills and technique apart, we both have a big heart and can dig deep. We both showed that against Klitschko (who beat Povetkin on points).
“The one who’s toughest will come out victorious.”
A crowd of some 80,000 is expected at Wembley and Joshua said: “Coming back is a blessing — it’s time to put on a performance.
“This is not new to me, this feels like home.”
The night Joshua outpointed Parker at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium, Povetkin demonstrated his considerable punching power on the undercard, with a fearsome fifth-round knockout of Britain’s David Price.
Povetkin, like Joshua, is a former Olympic champion, having won gold at Athens in 2004.
The only blot on his 35-fight professional record is the 2013 defeat by Klitschko.
He will be giving away several inches in height and reach against Joshua, but Povetkin is convinced he is now a stronger fighter than the one beaten by Klitschko.
“Joshua is one of the strongest in the division,” said Povetkin. “Anthony is a very strong fighter but I am just as strong.
“When I fought Klitschko I was much weaker and in worse shape than I am now.”
Joshua’s trainer, Rob McCracken, was in no doubt of Povetkin’s class.
“This is a fighter from a different level, with respect to Parker and (Carlos) Takam,” he said. “Povetkin comes from the top level.”