AJ vs. Povetkin—Direction KO

By Ben Thomsett on September 22, 2018
AJ vs. Povetkin—Direction KO
Russia has more on its mind collectively than Povetkin and boxing. (Matchroom Boxing)

Post-fight, AJ thanked the crowd, DAZN, and asked for a round of applause for Eddie Hearn (he received loud and heartfelt boos)…

Anthony fought Alexander Povetkin on the night of the 22nd of September in a bout that no-one had wanted to see post-Wilder contract talk breakdowns. The big Alabama fish had slipped through the net to fertile spawning grounds with Tyson Fury leaving AJ to flap in the breeze with the IBF mandatory challenger. At 39, and with two failed drug tests behind him, most had written Povetkin off as simply another piece of meat to be pummeled at by the closest thing the UK has to a living superhero character that you can believe in and, more importantly, you can buy things from. Wait, that’s not strictly true. AJ sells very little, personally, though his name is a byword in the UK for success and fair play. He is truly a marvel. You get the idea. It is, after all, the British way, the way of the world, and is the scent of all of our futures. Trust and buy. Succeed. He is the current champion; yardstick, ship’s mascot, and flag bearer in equal measure.

Povetkin was announced by the UK SKY commentator as: “Carrying the hopes of the Russian nation with him.” Strong and jingoistic (and with more than a whiff of Rocky 4 about it) words from a man who really should know better. Russia has more on its mind collectively than Povetkin and boxing. We watch the news. This was a fight, not a Syrian air raid.

When AJ came down the platform towards the ring it was to the sounds, and sights, of a rapper who appeared to be miming so badly that he reminded me of those old Muppet show musical endings. AJ seemed to like it, and paused, bizarrely, so a machine that looked like a semi-retired airport baggage loader could slowly raise him roughly ten feet off of the floor and then gently back down again in the same spot. I couldn’t work it out, but I think I’ve found out why flights take so long to load pre take-off.

In the ring, AJ looked more pensive than usual. He looked genuinely uneasy, pacing and taking half glances at everyone except Povetkin. Hardly any confident smiles, or silent stares of menace. It was the scene of a man looking for a toilet at short notice rather than someone about to defend his world titles.

The unease continued into the fight, with Povetkin doing what he does best—or, did better a decade ago—and ducking in throwing his overhand right and trying to connect with his left hook. He had some success and by the start of round two, AJ was bleeding heavily from what looked like a broken nose. Joshua began to find his jab in the third, and was consistently aiming them for the body but mostly failing to hit with the follow-up straight right. You could see it was his game plan to tire Povetkin and suck him in for a quicker right hand delivery.

An accidental elbow blow cut Povetkin over the left eye in the 4th and he looked to back off slightly from throwing the bombs. Joshua was starting to control the fight with that jab and answered any flurry with his own.

The fight ended in the 7th when Povetkin finally bought the jab to the chest/straight right routine and took one flush on the jaw. A couple more power shots and he was looking bewildered on the canvas. To his immense credit, he got up, but anything less than your total and utter concentration is a mistake against Joshua. He delivered the coup-de-grace seconds later, the referee waving off the fight as he rushed to cradle the Russian on the floor.

The judges scored the fight 58-56, 58-56, and 59-55. I had it a little closer, but no-one would feel like they needed to call the Police, or Don King, if the scoring had kept up that kind of scene had things gone to the cards at the end of any twelfth. Joshua had worked hard, but earned his victory with some good boxing. Only the worst curmudgeon would pour even a cup of cold water on his win.

Post-fight, AJ thanked the crowd, DAZN, and asked for a round of applause for Eddie Hearn (he received loud and heartfelt boos). “I came here to have fun,” Joshua said. The interviewer asked him whom he wanted next.

“Who do you guys want?” replied AJ. “We’ll put a poll up on Twitter and let you guys decide. After all, you guys direct this sport.”

He was right and wrong, but he sailed off into the sunset nevertheless, full of post-bout bonhomie. Smiling. Doing all the right things. He’d taken more shots than he should have, but his stock is still high. He is the unofficial king of British sport. We will pay him well and judge him not……until he loses. Which, knowing how important he is to those who really direct things, might never happen.

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

Discuss this in our forums

Related Articles


This is a place to express and/or debate your boxing views. It is not a place to offend anyone. If we feel comments are offensive, the post will be deleted and continuing offenders will be blocked from the site. Please keep it clean and civil! We want to have fun. We want some salty language and good-natured exchanges. But let's keep our punches above the belt...
  1. raxman 07:15pm, 09/23/2018

    Ted - in Johnny Lewis’ bio he talks about how in his early days training amateurs he got himself a great rep amongst the ref and the administrators for regularly stopping fights when he knew his kids had had enough. and he carried that through all the way to KT vs Hatton - and speaks on that too - how he was criticised throughout the boxing world for not letting Tszyu finish on his feet but all the validation he needed was a thankyou from Kostya’s wife. Its doubly impressive given Kostya from all reports was a bit of an asshole - a fact hidden by his broken English which made him sound like a basic, genuine sort of guy. A great fighter though - so for that purpose and my enjoyment of watching him, his personality is irrelevant - and not to mention no fighter should get hurt-hurt in the ring.

  2. raxman 07:07pm, 09/23/2018

    Ted - I look forward to reading it

  3. Kid Blast 07:34am, 09/23/2018

    raxman , I think I have seen it but I can’t quite recall when and where. it will come back to me. Meanwhile, that’s the kind of observation that translates to an article and I will write it once I verify it. Thanks for pointing it out, mate.

  4. La Grande Orange 07:10am, 09/23/2018

    I have to rethink my claim that Joshua was the better of the 3 top heavyweights. Me thinks this is a pretty average group at best here, Wilder is borderline pathetic, and Joshua didn’t look much better last night. IF Joshua fights like this against Fury, look for FURY ROAD to reclaim the title they stole from him. I have only seen the highlights of this bout, but from what I saw, the 39 year old Povetkin actually impressed me more than Joshua.  R

  5. don from prov 07:03am, 09/23/2018

    Second good article of the morning—

    Very nice write-up.
    Well written and a bit of humor too.  Good stuff.
    Now I’m going to watch a re-run to look for the incident Raxman spoke to.

  6. Koolz 01:24am, 09/23/2018


  7. raxman 07:54pm, 09/22/2018

    Guys - check out the first knock down, Povetkin trainer grabs him by the glove and tries to hold him down, to stop him beating the count. its the most amazing example of a corner trying to protect their fighter from his own courage. In my 35yeas of following the sport I’ve never seen anything like it. Anyone else?

  8. Brian 07:42pm, 09/22/2018

    Sorry, tried to get through this article but mostly unreadable.

Leave a comment