Promoter Eddie Hearn has warned Anthony Joshua of the threat Alexander Povetkin poses ahead of their clash at Wembley on Saturday.
He says that not only is Povetkin’s boxing team behind him, but also the weight ofVladimir Putin‘s Russian government.
There is tension between the UK and Russia after the novichok poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury in March.
Eddie Hearn (left) warned Anthony Joshua that Povetkin (second right) has Russia behind him
Hearn believes that Vladimir Putin and the Russian government want to ‘stick one’ to Britain
Povetkin is challenging for Joshua’s WBA title, as well as the WBA Super, IBF, WBO, and IBO belts on Saturday night.
‘He and his team know how important this is for them and for Povetkin nationally. This is not just about him personally winning a title, this is a major, major thing if he could stick one on a Brit,’ Hearn continued.
There has been tension between Britain and Russia since the novichok poisonings in March
‘I think it adds a bit of spice, to be honest with you. You know that level of government is involved in Povetkin so there will be plenty of instruction, well wishes and calls of intent from them saying: “Come on, this is important for our country.”‘
Joshua is favourite to win the fight, and Hearn says his man is ready, but he is keen to point out that Povetkin will be no pushover, hinting again that higher powers than most people realise are involved in boxing.
‘He’s got a completely different mentality for this fight,’ said Hearn. ‘It’s strictly business. He hasn’t really taken note of anything around him. He knows it is a really tough fight – if everyone in Britain had the knowledge of people who are involved in boxing, it would be five times bigger.’
Height: 6ft 2in (188cm)
Reach: 75in (191cm)
Nationality: United Kingdom
Height: 6ft 6in (198cm)
Reach: 82in (208cm)
Povetkin has been suspended from boxing for using banned substances twice before, but Hearn is confident everything is above board this time.
‘[Povetkin]’s had loads of tests,’ he said. ‘Off the top of my head there have been five or six tests from the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association, not from the Russian one. They will go into his camp and that’s been done from 12 weeks out.
‘Every time there is a VADA test, one week later we get an email to both camps saying the test was done and it was negative. Once he gets into the country this week, UKADA will start as well. For me that test is not irrelevant, but is not as important as testing nine, 10, 11, 12 weeks out. Never say never, but I’m confident with what has been put in place.’
Joshua currently holds the WBA, WBA Super, IBF, WBO, and IBO belts, which are up for grabs