Boxing expert Johnny Nelson thinks that Alexander Povetkin will put up more of a fight against Anthony Joshua than many expect when they go head-to-head on September 22.
It has widely been assumed that AJ’s proposed fight against American Deontay Wilder will present the Brit with a far tougher test, but Nelson, a pundit for Sky Sports, is not so sure.
"This is a serious, serious threat for Anthony Joshua. Everybody has been talking about the big fight between AJ and Deontay Wilder, but are they forgetting about Alexander Povetkin?
“I think they have forgotten about his pedigree, they've forgotten about what he is capable of doing in the ring," he wrote in his column.
"Well, I have seen it so many times in this sport when fighters are already looking at their next fight, and I hope Joshua isn't doing the same.”
He continued: “This is going to be a tough one and it could well be the toughest test of the lot.”
Povetkin’s record stands at 35-1, with the sole defeat coming at the hands of former world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko.
His last fight ended convincingly with the Russian knocking out Joshua’s compatriot David Price in the fifth round.
"Povetkin has been a world champion. He has had 35 fights and only lost one, and that was to Wladimir Klitschko. He can punch, he can bang, and the shot he took out David Price with, that left hook, is something we have seen Joshua open to as well.
"Povetkin can fight. This is going to be a tough one and it could well be the toughest test of the lot. You could argue that Wladimir Klitschko was past his best, or that Carlos Takam was a short-notice opponent, or that Joseph Parker has a granite chin, but the one thing we know Povetkin can do, is fight."
In 2014, the 38-year-old also lodged a comfortable knockout defeat of Carlos Takam, against whom Joshua struggled to a 10th round stoppage that many considered to be premature.
Nelson reckons Povetkin may look to emulate the way Takam fought against Joshua.
“[Takam] was much shorter and he would duck in low and get in on the inside and created some problems. I can see Povetkin doing something like that - and he carries more power than Takam.”
A loss against Povetkin would raise serious questions about Joshua’s proposed bout against Wilder with the two fighters' camps yet to agree on a deal for the fight which is expected to take place in London early next year.
"Looking good against someone like him is one thing, but quite simply, Povetkin definitely has the capabilities of beating 'AJ'," Nelson continued.
"If Joshua is happy to stay back and box at range, he should have too much, but stand there and go toe-to-toe with him, he is giving Povetkin an even bigger chance of beating him.
"I know Wilder was on everybody's mind, but I can't see Joshua and his team overlooking this one. If he does lose to Povetkin, all that talk, all that back-and-forth, will mean nothing. That makes this an even bigger risk."
AJ therefore needs to make sure he takes Povetkin seriously and hope he can deal with him like he has his previous 21 opponents.
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