Anthony Joshua v Alexander Povetkin: Heavyweight champion says he feels ‘tonnes of pressure’

My body has been broken and rebuilt – Joshua
Anthony Joshua v Alexander Povetkin
Venue: Wembley Stadium Date: Saturday 22 September
Coverage: Live text commentary from 20:00 BST on the BBC Sport website

Anthony Joshua believes a shot at his world titles “means everything” to Alexander Povetkin and says he can feel growing pressure going into the bout.

Britain’s WBA, WBO and IBF world heavyweight champion Joshua defends his belts against Russia’s Povetkin, 39, at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.

He says his body has been “broken down” and “rebuilt like never before” going into a fight which is likely to be Povetkin’s last shot at a world title.

“I feel loads of pressure,” he said.

“Tonnes of pressure. That’s the reality of it, even though I present myself as cool, calm and collected. I just have to roll with the punches, find a way to win.

“The pressure has definitely grown but I still feel like I have everything to gain. But pressure, 100%.”

‘I’m in for a tough night’

The meeting, which should draw a crowd of around 80,000, will be Joshua’s fourth consecutive stadium fight.

London 2012 Olympic champion Joshua, 28, has faced criticism from some quarters for failing to agree a bout with WBC champion Deontay Wilder.

However, his trainer Rob McCracken says Povetkin – who won Olympic gold in 2004 – is from the “top tier of heavyweights” and is a tougher challenge than Joshua faced in his points win over Joseph Parker last time out.

Povetkin will stand four inches shorter than Joshua and weigh around two stone less, making the champion weary of the speed his opponent could bring, not to mention the determination that comes with seeking a world title at the age of 39.

“It’s everything to him,” Joshua told BBC Sport’s Mike Costello.

“I’m in for a tough night so I have to go in there and be tough. Everything is on the line and he wants to be champion.”

AJ ready to ‘get stuck in’

Saturday’s bout will be Joshua’s sixth as a world champion and his 22nd in all. He remains undefeated, while Povetkin – who earned his shot by becoming a mandatory challenger – has 34 wins from 35 bouts, with his only loss coming against Wladimir Klitschko in 2013.

Povetkin told media he was “much weaker” against Klitschko five years ago and Joshua expects to have to adapt the patient style he showcased in his points win over Parker in March when he faces a mobile and rugged opponent.

“Against Parker, the game was not to get caught,” he added. “I’d never gone the 12 rounds so I tried to keep it simple.

“I just know I can take a beating anyway and I know I can box. So with this one I think I’ll just get stuck in, step forward on my punches rather than punch from a distance. Don’t be scared to get a cut eye and bloody nose. Let’s get the punches landing with velocity and ferociousness.”

‘Povetkin to bring plenty of threat’ – Price

Povetkin twice failed drugs tests in the past. He claims his use of meldonium came before the substance became illegal but later also tested positive for the muscle builder ostarine in 2016.

Joshua now says it is his “job” to show he is the “stronger and better fighter”.

Povetkin’s doping issues led to him being booed by sections of the crowd before he scored a brutal knockout win over Liverpool’s David Price in March.

Price faces unbeaten Russian Sergey Kuzmin on the undercard at Wembley and says Joshua will need to be ready for an experienced opponent.

“Povetkin is a wily old fighter and is clever,” Price told BBC Sport. “He’s got better footwork than he’s given credit for, better defence, better judgment of distance.

“He’s an accurate puncher and has a hell of a lot of things going for him, which is why he has achieved what he has achieved.”

Joshua and Povetkin will make their ring walk at 21:50 BST on Saturday, with live text commentary available on the BBC Sport website from around 20:30 BST.