LONDON (Reuters) – World heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua expects his title defence against Russian Alexander Povetkin on Saturday to be his toughest fight since Wladimir Klitschko — and to end with a similar outcome.
Joshua, 28, knocked out Ukrainian Klitschko at Wembley in April 2017 and the 2012 Olympic champion is returning to the national stadium for the first time for his 22nd professional fight.
Povetkin, the 2004 Olympic super-heavyweight champion and WBA’s mandatory challenger, lost to Klitschko in Moscow in 2013 — the only defeat in the 39-year-old’s professional career to date.
“We’ve been away for a while, we’re back now with Alexander Povetkin,” Joshua told a news conference on Thursday. “And I’m expecting the same type of fight because… I think we’ve both got a big heart and can dig deep.
“We both showed that against Klitschko, dug deep and stayed in there. And we’re going to do the same again on Saturday night,” he added.
Joshua’s last two world title bouts were at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, where he beat Carlos Takam before adding the WBO belt in a points win over New Zealander Joseph Parker in March.
The champion is the clear favourite but he was taking nothing for granted and said he had trained for a tough fight.
“He’s a proper fighter, he knows what he’s doing,” said Joshua, who owns the WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO belts. American Deontay Wilder holds the WBC belt but the fans will have to wait for that long-desired match-up.
“There’s loads of pressure, tons of pressure, it’s the reality,” said Joshua, who will have a crowd of some 80,000 on his side.
“Roll with the punches, what more can I do than give my best. I’ll go out there and find a way to win.”
Saturday is the first of a two-fight deal at Wembley and Joshua said he felt at ease.
“Coming back here is a blessing,” he declared. “It’s time to just put on a performance. It’s Chapter Two to a certain degree but I just feel relaxed and calm. It’s not new to me any more. I feel like this is home.”
Speaking through a translator, Povetkin expected to be a match for the champion.
“When I fought Klitschko, I was much weaker and in worse shape than I am now,” he said. “I never try to say anything ahead of time, you’ll see everything on fight night.”
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis)