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In Dismantling Povetkin, Joshua Recaptured His Swag among the Heavyweights

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  • In Dismantling Povetkin, Joshua Recaptured His Swag among the Heavyweights

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    By Frank Lotierzo

    He was in against a very crafty and experienced opponent in former WBA titlist Alexander Povetkin 34-2 (24). And although he was troubled by the dangerous Russian fighting small as he tried to inch his way in and time him, AJ adjusted well and started to take the initiative and dropped and stopped Povetkin in the seventh round, retaining his WBA, WBO, and IBF heavyweight titles and thus becoming the first fighter to ever stop Povetkin, something Wladimir Klitschko failed to do.

    During the fight AJ was forced back. He had to adapt to Povetkin making him punch down and that caused him to be a little tentative, especially after being bloodied from a broken nose in the first round. And early on, AJ was a little confused and busy trying to keep Povetkin occupied from outside so he couldn't get in on him. His most effective weapon in doing such was his left jab, delivered to the head or body, although the fight really turned when he began putting his one-two together. Then after a fairly evenly-paced bout, AJ slowed some with the hope it would lure Povetkin to close in a little harder, and he did.

    As Povetkin, who came to fight, became more assertive, he became more vulnerable. AJ found the openings for his big right hand and left hook. With the first really solid right hand that bounced off his chin, Povetkin buckled and instinctively went back. Joshua pursued him and then, with near Joe Louis-like accuracy, put his right hands and hooks together, along with a beautiful right to the body in the middle of the assault and finished his game opponent.

    Once again it was shown that trading with AJ is almost certain suicide. Povetkin was in great shape and would've been a handful for any other heavyweight in the world because he no doubt brought his A-game. Sometimes it takes AJ a little while to get going, and if you don't do anything to bother him or wake him up, he doesn't fight with the urgency of a "Smokin" Joe Frazier. However, when you wake him up and force him to cut loose, he's so dangerous that he doesn't need too many clean shots to end it. And making Joshua more lethal is that he has both short and inside power in both hands.

    After months of hearing how Povetkin was the most serious threat to Joshua, that's now finished business. Prior to the bout The Ring magazine rated the top six heavyweights in the world as follows.....Joshua, Wilder, Povetkin, Ortiz, Whyte and Parker, in that order. Now Joshua is 3-0 (2) versus Povetkin, Whyte and Parker which squashes the narrative that he has fought weaker opposition than WBC title holder Deontay Wilder 40-0 (39) who has only faced Ortiz among the top six.

    Today, the most widely levied criticism of any elite fighter is that he didn’t fight the best man or men in his division. Fighters can't control who their contemporaries are but they can control fighting the best of their era. Rocky Marciano's era wasn't stellar, but he fought every top fighter who was in line to challenge him. Floyd Mayweather fought in a stout era - the difference is an overwhelming majority of his bouts with big name opponents were strategically manipulated so that he faced them on the downside of their career – and that's a fact, not a theory.

    Forty years after his last victory in a title fight, Muhammad Ali is respected and revered as a fighter even by those who don't claim to be a fan of his. Why? He wasn't the most fundamental boxer in heavyweight history nor was he the biggest puncher, and not all of his fights were edge of your seat exciting. The thing that's often cited as to why he was a marvel is that he fought the best of the best during one of the deepest eras in heavyweight history. There were a few times between 1975-77 that he held a win over every fighter ranked among The Ring magazine's top-10. Sure he fought a few Brian London's and Jean Pierre Coopman's, but London was encompassed by Sonny Liston and Ernie Terrell during the 1960s and Coopman by Joe Frazier and Ken Norton during the 1970s.

    Anthony Joshua hasn't yet sniffed the greatness of Ali on many levels, but he is on the same trajectory in regards to meeting and defeating the best of his generation. By the end of this month, the WBC heavyweight title fight between Deontay Wilder and former champ Tyson Fury will likely become official with them meeting in early December. And regardless of who wins, Joshua, if he really wants to etch a great legacy, must pressure the winner to meet him in their next bout. In addition to that, he must tell his brain, aka Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn, to forget about winning the purse war if it is the only stumbling block. If the winner of Wilder-Fury is impressive, he will have earned a 50-50 split.

    During the faux negotiations between the Joshua and Wilder camps this past summer the purse split was the focal point. And prior to the prospect of Wilder and Fury meeting, Joshua clearly held the better hand based on his resume and owning three titles to Wilder's single title. But the Wilder-Fury winner will have closed the gap and Joshua needs to be next while the fighters are at or near their prime. The fact is Joshua versus the Wilder/Fury winner will be the most widely anticipated fight in the heavyweight division since Lewis-Tyson and maybe even since Tyson-Holyfield I. The onus is on the fighters to make it happen and they both have the clout to make sure it does, especially Joshua.

    Interviewed in the ring after dispatching Povetkin, AJ said it didn't matter to him who he fought next as long as it's Wilder or Fury, but it was obvious that he preferred Wilder. A lot depends on how Wilder fares with Fury, but until then, here's what we know.....Alexander Povetkin and Luis Ortiz are about on the same level; having never faced each other, it's a tossup as to who'd win. Both Joshua and Wilder scored impressive stoppages over Povetkin and Ortiz respectively...AJ needed seven rounds and Deontay needed ten rounds. During his bout with Ortiz, Wilder was knocked around the ring and had to endure a few big exchanges, some of which he came out second-best. Wilder was also nearly stopped in the seventh round but battled back, summoning great courage and reserve to win a fight he was losing. Against Povetkin, Joshua was more troubled than he was beaten up. And once he found his range and pace and began putting his punches together, the fight ultimately ended when AJ got off with his best stuff. In essence, Joshua was more impressive against Povetkin and had fewer close calls than did Wilder against Ortiz.

    Between now and the time Wilder fights Tyson Fury, it'll be debated as to who was more impressive - Joshua against Povetkin or Wilder against Ortiz; the answer is clearly Joshua for the reasons stated. Moreover, when analyzing a fight, A + B doesn’t equal C. Joshua will be favored over either Wilder or Fury, but probably along the line of 7-5 and nothing will change that.

    The thing that emerged from Joshua dismantling Povetkin is that AJ recaptured some of the limelight and swag he ceded to Wilder this past March. AJ is again the fighter to beat in the heavyweight division and will probably get the bigger purse split regardless of whether he faces Wilder and Fury.

    That said, he better not let the fight fall through over it!

    Between 1977 and 1982, Frank Lotierzo had over 50 fights in the middleweight division. He trained at Joe Frazier's gym in Philadelphia under the tutelage of the legendary George Benton. Before joining The Sweet Science his work appeared in several prominent newsstand and digital boxing magazines and he hosted "Toe-to-Toe" on ESPN Radio. Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@gmail.com

    Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

  • #2
    This was not the most impressive of performances by Joshua. Povetkin came to fight and I do agree that his aggression eventually did lead to him getting ko'd. But he was having plenty of success and in my opinion entering round seven was winning the fight. Joshua continues to be vulnerable to the right hand. We saw it some against Klitschko and later against Takam. And Joshua also pulls straight back in a line with his hands low. He is good and clearly the best heavyweight in the world. But there are vulnerabilities and in heavyweight boxing it just takes one clean shot to alter the course of the division.

    By the way, tons of talk on Joshua facing the winner of Wilder-Fury in April. That is not happening. My understanding is there is a rematch clause to Wilder-Fury and I don't see Joshua's team all that excited about a possible match in April anyway. Hearn needs to milk this just a little more and he undoubtedly will. Instead, it will either be Whyte or Pulev (and maybe the other in 2019 before Wilder or Fury in 2020).

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    • #3
      Originally posted by oubobcat View Post
      This was not the most impressive of performances by Joshua. Povetkin came to fight and I do agree that his aggression eventually did lead to him getting ko'd. But he was having plenty of success and in my opinion entering round seven was winning the fight. Joshua continues to be vulnerable to the right hand. We saw it some against Klitschko and later against Takam. And Joshua also pulls straight back in a line with his hands low. He is good and clearly the best heavyweight in the world. But there are vulnerabilities and in heavyweight boxing it just takes one clean shot to alter the course of the division.

      By the way, tons of talk on Joshua facing the winner of Wilder-Fury in April. That is not happening. My understanding is there is a rematch clause to Wilder-Fury and I don't see Joshua's team all that excited about a possible match in April anyway. Hearn needs to milk this just a little more and he undoubtedly will. Instead, it will either be Whyte or Pulev (and maybe the other in 2019 before Wilder or Fury in 2020).
      Excellent post, oubocat. I agree on all accounts. AJ remains vulnerable and that makes him even more exciting.

      As for "swag," if that means gravitas, I totally agree. And even if it means swagger, I agree.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by kid blast View Post

        excellent post, oubocat. I agree on all accounts. Aj remains vulnerable and that makes him even more exciting.

        As for "swag," if that means gravitas, i totally agree. And even if it means swagger, i agree.
        lololol

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