Anthony Joshua defends his IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight titles tonight against Alexander Povetkin in the knowledge that he may just end another career.
The 28-year-old fights at Wembley Stadium for the first time since his 11th-round stoppage of Wladimir Klitschko led to a fine and respected champion’s retirement while establishing him among the world’s leading fighters today.
If with Joshua’s past two fights there was a frustration that he did not defeat Carlos Takam and Joseph Parker as convincingly as he would have hoped, there is also the reality that, similarly to Klitschko, they are yet to recover from those defeats.
Russia’s 39-year-old Povetkin, whose reputation will never fully recover from the damage caused by two failed drug tests, secured tonight’s fight by becoming Joshua’s mandatory challenger five years after last fighting for a world title, and is unlikely to do so again if he suffers his second defeat.
By fighting Joshua, Povetkin is ultimately risking never fighting again, and asked about his streak of damaging careers, Joshua told said: “It does happen, it’s a tough game. It’s not only the training camps, it’s the actual fighting; 10, 11 rounds of punishment.
“It does take a lot out of (opponents). Obviously I’ve not been out there knocking people out (in the early rounds) like I used to, but it’s different, top-tier fighters at the top end. I’m fighting the best of the best and it’s tougher, but ultimately they’re getting someone just as tough and it does take a lot out of them.
“It does take something out of (even) these tough guys.”
Povetkin said: “Counter-attacks and my own attacks are so important.
“This fight is all about experience. I am aware that ‘AJ’ is world champion, but I’ve been in massive events before, so this is not new to me. I am ready.”