July 16, 2018
July 16, 2018
Anthony Joshua next opponent

Esther Lin/Showtime

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ANTHONY JOSHUA has finally been given an opponent, and no, it’s not Deontay Wilder. Joshua will instead face Russian Alexander Povetkin on September 22 at Wembley Stadium in London.

The Russian hopes to ruin any potential plans for a much-anticipated ‘AJ’ versus Wilder fight to take place next year.

Previously it had seemed likely that Joshua and Wilder would battle it out with the winner becoming the first undisputed heavyweight champion to hold all four of the major organisation world titles. Joshua was going to put up his IBF, WBA, and WBO titles with Wilder doing the same with his WBC belt. But, even if that fight can be made, we will have to wait.

A defence against Russia’s Alexander Povetkin, to be broadcast on Sky Sports Box Office, comes first. Povetkin is the mandatory challenger for the WBA heavyweight title Joshua holds. He recorded a fifth round stoppage over David Price on the night Joshua won the WBO title from Parker in March.

Anthony Joshua vs Deontay Wilder

If this fight hadn’t been made for September Joshua would have faced being stripped of the WBA title, which he dramatically claimed against Wladimir Klitschko in April 2017. Joshua would only have been able to delay a fight against Povetkin if his unification bout with Wilder had been booked.

So Joshua will meet a Russian who has failed drug tests twice before in his career. Povetkin’s sole loss has come against Wladimir Klitschko in October 2013. The Russian holds wins over Manuel Charr, Carlos Takam and former Lennox Lewis conqueror Hasim Rahman.

If Joshua does prevail all roads will then, hopefully, lead to Wilder with the dream of undisputed heavyweight glory still at stake. Wilder on the other hand also has the option of a mandatory challenger in the mean time, in Dominic Breazeale, the 17th victim of an Anthony Joshua knockout defeat.

Joshua already has the next date for his fight booked in, April 13 at Wembley Stadium once again.