DEONTAY WILDER can wait. But Russia’s Alexander Povetkin is a problematic opponent for unified WBA, IBF and WBO world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua. The Briton needs to fight Povetkin to retain his WBA title. Why the WBA has him installed as their mandatory challenger is also another matter, considering Povetkin has failed drug tests twice in the past.
Povetkin is also one of the most able heavyweights in the world, therefore a risk for Joshua who has a huge clash with Deontay Wilder pencilled in for next year (if Wilder agrees to it, which is a whole other story).
“I don’t like the Povetkin fight,” Eddie Hearn, Joshua’s promoter, told Boxing News. “I said to Joshua, you shouldn’t be taking this fight. But because of the relationship between the WBA and World of Boxing [Povetkin’s promoter]. Also us and the WBA, we’ve both got very strong relationships, the WBA are a little bit torn. They want Povetkin to get his shot as mandatory. Also they are very happy to have Joshua as the reigning world champion. So Gilberto Mendoza [WBA president] wants this fight. Joshua thinks it’s a very good fight for him to learn.
“So he’s going to fight Povektin. So it is madness to take this fight when you’ve got the potential of the Wilder fight. But what can you do? He’s at a stage now where he’s having stadium fights in front of 90,000 people… He wants to take care of his mandatories. A lot of what he wants to do is based around what [Wladimir] Klitschko done in terms of his domination.”
Joshua is going to fight Povetkin at an open air stadium in the UK in the latter half of September. But there needs to be a level playing field. When Povetkin fought David Price on the undercard of Joshua’s last fight Boxing News discovered the Russian had not been drug tested during his training camp, and only once he had arrived in the UK in the week of the fight.
“He’s already signed to the VADA testing,” Hearn said of Povetkin. “There is something that we do for every fight, for every opponent from 16 weeks out, which is we pay 50 grand for additional VADA testing. So that was done for Klitschko, that was done for [Joseph] Parker, that was done for [Kubrat] Pulev [who was scheduled to fight Joshua but got injured], so they will be testing him six, seven, eight times in addition to the programme that he’s already sent out. They [Povetkin’s team] were happy to put that in. That was something that they were including in their terms as well as our terms. I think that they know the history and the reputation. They want to prove that if they win, there’s absolutely no question marks. So that VADA testing I think will be underway from tomorrow [Friday] until the fight. It’s not going to be six weeks or eight weeks, it’s starting now. That’s obviously very important to us.”