Joshua vs Povetkin – Once a Cheat Always a Cheat?
September 19, 2018
Anthony Joshua vs Alexander Povetkin
Joshua – Unbeaten world heavyweight champion (21-0) will want a return to his devastating best after being taken the distance for the first time in his last fight against Joseph Parker. With an ever-growing target on his back, Joshua must deal with his mandatory challenger Povetkin before attention turns to April 13 when he will return to Wembley Stadium. His challenger though is considered by many to be a potential banana skin and a live threat to Joshua.
“Ultimately as much as we think about winning, I think about losing. I can’t afford to lose.” Joshua
Povetkin – The former WBA champion from Russia has one-punch knockout power which David Price experienced at the Principality Stadium on the Joshua vs Parker undercard. He has lost just once in 35 outings, to a prime Wladimir Klitschko five years ago. In common with Joshua and Klitschko, Povetkin is an Olympic gold medallist.
Like last week’s mega-fight between Canelo Alvarez (failed drug test) and Golovkin there is controversy surrounding Povetkin following two failed drug tests, one in May 2016 when Povetkin failed a random Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) drug test for the banned substance meldonium. Despite the failed test and because Wilder sustained an injury, the WBC ordered Povetkin to fight Bermane Stiverne for the interim heavyweight title in August 2016 with the bout scheduled for December that year. However, just one day before the fight was due to take place, Povetkin failed his second drug test in seven months, this time for banned substance ostarine. Sport has been licking its wounds in the recent past regarding drug use, most notably Lance Armstrong and the Russian state-sponsored doping scandal revealed in 2014.
“So they will be testing him six, seven, eight times.” Eddie Hearn
“He’s proven himself clean for this fight, nothing’s come up yet, he’s clean for my fight and that’s what I’ve gotta focus on.” Joshua
This fight draws many similarities to the men’s 100m final at the 2017 Athletics World Championships in which the sports superstar and icon Usain Bolt was defeated by Justin Gatlin, who had previously failed drug tests and been banned from the sport. I expect the London boxing fans to provide a similarly hostile reception for the Russian boxer; just as Gatlin received in London after defeating Bolt. Sports fans can forgive most things but cheating is still considered the lowest point of professional sport and Povetkin will face a monumental challenge to regain any credibility within the sport.
What’s on the line? Principally Joshua’s trio of titles, the IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight championships. More so, the continuation of Joshua’s exemplary progress in what is just his 22nd fight as he builds towards meeting one of his great rivals next year. Povetkin is a dangerous challenger who, aged 39, may view this as his last opportunity to add another world title to his CV.