Oh yeah, Anthony Joshua’s Fighting This Weekend

By Paul Magno on September 19, 2018
Oh yeah, Anthony Joshua’s Fighting This Weekend
It’s not that Alexander Povetkin is a bad opponent. It’s just that he’s not Deontay Wilder.

Fans aren’t caring about Anthony Joshua this Saturday because of who he’s fighting and how this fight came into existence…

If you weren’t keeping a keen eye on the boxing schedule and calendar, you’d have no idea that there was a world heavyweight title bout this Saturday featuring the sport’s “next big thing,” Anthony Joshua.

There’s been almost zero buzz about this fight and, from all reports, even Joshua’s UK home base is not exactly electric with anticipation for the upcoming Joshua-Povetkin contest.

This flat-lining of a supposed big event can be attributed a bit to the energy generated by last Saturday’s Canelo Alvarez-Gennady Golovkin battle. But, for the most part, fans aren’t caring about Anthony Joshua this Saturday because of who he’s fighting and how this fight came into existence.

It’s not that Alexander Povetkin is a bad opponent or an unworthy world title challenger. As a matter of fact, he just may be the best challenger for Joshua available to him at the moment. It’s just that Povetkin is not Deontay Wilder.

Earlier this year, when talks with WBC titlist Wilder fell apart in a he-said/he-said mess of nastiness, Joshua and his team got the lion’s share of the blame. Whether that blame is fair or not remains to be seen, but as the man with three of four belts, all the money, and all the power to make any fight he chooses, it was certain that he’d take the flak for Joshua-Wilder imploding.

It was extremely bad optics from Team Joshua to then embrace a mandatory defense while the corpse of Joshua-Wilder was still warm. Promoter Eddie Hearn, who is usually slick and well aware of the importance of optics, dropped the ball when he brought in Povetkin, literally, the same day fans were processing the loss of a Wilder unification bout. Some fans were even under the impression that the Wilder bout was signed and sealed, only to realize later that Povetkin was actually going to be Joshua’s opponent.

Although he’s not exactly a soft touch, Povetkin won’t beat Joshua. Normally, fans wouldn’t mind all that much if Joshua’s opponent wasn’t likely to win. At least that’s the impression given when one sees soccer stadiums full of fans and buzz-a-plenty for bouts where “AJ” is sure to emerge victorious. Joshua’s star power has been such that seeing him is enough to put asses in seats and bring eyeballs to TV sets. But this fight is different.

“We have had to work a bit harder this time,” Hearn told The Guardian, acknowledging a week ago that this upcoming fight at Wembley Stadium may not be a sell-out. “Normally when you go on sale with an Anthony Joshua fight it just goes ‘ping’ but it has been slower than Wladimir Klitschko and Joseph Parker.”

And this may be the backlash from the whole Wilder affair. Fans will put up with a lot, even with a proverbial carrot being dangled in front of them. But they bite back a bit when that dangling carrot seems like an intentional assault on their intelligence.

Joshua-Wilder is the fight they want to see. They were promised Joshua-Wilder, teased with Joshua-Wilder. And then Joshua-Wilder was taken from them abruptly and replaced immediately with Joshua-Povetkin.

It certainly doesn’t help matters that Wilder has moved on to lineal heavyweight champ Tyson Fury, engaged in hyping a much more intriguing clash of big men than the one proposed for Joshua. Wilder-Fury is the one with the big fight feel and it’s the one generating the headlines that Joshua-Povetkin should be generating.

Hearn seems to want to believe that Povetkin’s mild-mannered personality and general politeness is making this fight hard to sell. But he knows the truth because he can never be allowed to forget it.

“The only thing that aggravates me,” Hearn laments, “is that anyone in boxing I have spoken to says it is a tough fight, whereas the man on the street goes to me: ‘When’s the Wilder fight?’”

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  1. Lucas McCain 01:40pm, 09/21/2018

    PM may be right that there’s little to no buzz about this fight in North America, but “out there” and “Truth” have a wider geography than that.  There’s a reason some titles are called “World Championships” besides the usual fakery and hype.

  2. snowflake 09:26am, 09/21/2018

    Count me in the camp that’s skipping this one. The battle of two guys who ducked Wilder. It’s cute that Hearn has fooled British boxing fans but we are not quite so credulous over here. Enjoy the night gents

  3. Koolz 08:52am, 09/21/2018

    wasn’t impressed by Joshua vs Parker I thought that fight was way too close and the ref seemed to be on Joshua’s side, pulling them apart every time Parker fought on the inside.
    If Joshua fights like that against Povetkin he is doomed, Lights Out!

    Povetkin is very intelligent boxer, he isn’t coming in straight to box Joshua.
    I am hoping for an upset here.

  4. Paul Magno 08:05pm, 09/20/2018

    @Kid…Do you want me to lie and say that there IS a buzz and that Hearn HASN’T talked publicly about this being a harder sale than usual? That’s been the story of the event so far…Sorry…It’s not like I’m out here making shit up…If you want a co-promoter or fan club cheerleader, there are many other writers out there who fit that bill…I said that Povetkin was a worthy opponent…what else do you want—a fake story, full of fake press release material? Again, sorry…I have no interest in that…Truth is good and it should be seen as a positive, not as a downer…don’t blame me if the story is negative, I’m just reporting what’s out there…

  5. Kid Blast 12:34pm, 09/20/2018

    80-90 thousand people plus PPV and the cynicism prevails. I just don’t get it. Pov has only lost one fight. He is a solid contender. AJ will probably win but it might not be a walk-over.

    Please, can we have something mote positive.

  6. Chico Salmon 07:28am, 09/20/2018

    Ahem, I know you think Canelo Alvarez is HUGE, but outside of the boxing world, the guy has no impact whatsoever. Ole Cinnamon Head could walk down the streets of any large U.S. city with the exception of perhaps cities like San Antonio, Los Angeles, etc.,  and go unrecognized. I agree with the previous poster, James, that this fight will do well over in the UK, here in America, not so much.

  7. James 12:18am, 09/20/2018

    That’s a bit rich considering turnout at Wembley is likely to be 80,000. How many were in Las Vegas to see Canelo Vs Golovkin 20,000? It might not be the fight we want to see but least he is out there fighting some of the top fighters and there will still be a large turnout and a reasonable amount of PPV buys

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