Anthony Joshua will defend his WBA, IBF, WBO, IBO heavyweight crowns against Russia’s Alexander Povetkin at Wembley Arena on Saturday.
Going into this contest, Joshua is the bookmakers favourite, and while Povetkin is experienced enough not to get stopped, I expect Joshua to smother Povetkin and win with death by a thousand cuts.
Big events also need big undercards and the Anthony Joshua-Alexander Povetkin headliner on Saturday evening boasts an impressive supporting cast.
Luke Campbell needs to get a move on if he is to challenge and win world titles. The Hull fighter’s boyish appearance belies the fact that he is now 30 and many would’ve expected the southpaw to have claimed world honours by now. A split decision loss in 2017 to the excellent Jorge Linares displayed Campbell’s offensive capabilities and also his resolve under pressure given that Luke battled back from an early knockdown to make it close enough on the scorecards.
That was Campbell’s second defeat on an 18-2 slate. The first came to rugged Frenchman Yvan Mendy who happens to be the opponent on Saturday evening. The incentive is for Campbell, now trained by Shane McGuigan, to wipe that loss out of his system and climb back up the rankings for a title shot of some description. Mendy has won seven on the bounce since he upset Campbell in 2016 and is arriving with bags of confidence so cannot be written off in this rematch. Campbell will be favourite, however.
Liverpool heavyweight David Price was expected to box charismatic Dubliner Sean “Big Sexy” Turner in Belfast on October 5 but instead finds himself in against another big-punching Russian in the form of Sergey Kuzmin. Price continues to receive opportunities; this one arrived off the back of a resilient display against headliner Povetkin in March. Price stood firm and wobbled the former world champion before being dramatically stopped on his feet in the fifth round.
The people love a heavyweight who can punch, and Price’s impressive physical attributes, heavy hands and likeable personality make him the marketable underdog who gets repeated chances. 12-0 Kuzmin has nine stoppages, is younger, hungry and expected to inflict the kind of highlight reel KO that has become worryingly familiar throughout Price’s career.
Matty Askin has vowed to knock out Lawrence Okolie when they clash to decide who rules the domestic roost at cruiserweight.
“This fight is all that’s on my mind, it’s the first thing I think of when I get up and last when I shut my eyes,” said Askin who has relocated to a caravan to focus his preparations fully. “I run through a load of different potential outcomes which I think is going to help me when it comes down to it.”
The Blackpool boxer is more experienced than his opponent, but Okolie is a former Olympian with added promotional clout. Both men are enjoying a rich vein of form, but Okolie is expected to win well and move on to the bigger things.
Brooklyn-based Uzbek Shakhram Giyasov is flying under the radar at present, but the unbeaten welterweight could be making noises reasonably soon. Giyasov, 25, is 4-0 with three knockouts on the slate and won silver at the 2016 Olympics, plus gold in the 2017 World Amateur Championships. He is one of a group of Uzbekistan boxers currently on the rise and looking to make their mark on the professional game.