Anthony Joshua exclusive: I’ve had to adjust my style for Alexander Povetkin fight

Anthony Joshua
Hitting out: Anthony Joshua pushes himself hard in training as he prepares for Alexander Povetkin, one of the toughest opponents of his career: PA

Danger lies in the unknown. Alexander Povetkin is smaller than the guys I’m used to fighting and attacks with a different style.

When we step into the ring, it’ll be like a violent chess match with both of us looking to punish mistakes. I see him making the more costly ones, which I plan to take full advantage of.

It’s been five-and-half months since my last fight and I’m itching to get back out there. There has been a lot of talk about other boxers in the heavyweight division and who I’d be fighting on Saturday but, of all the names, it’s Povetkin who has actually stepped up.

A lot of people have an opinion on who I should be fighting but, in this game, you cannot look past your next opponent and, if you do, that’s when complacency begins to creep in.

For me, that next opponent is Povetkin and he has come to London with a very impressive record. He has fought 35 times against some great opposition and only has one loss on his record, a points defeat to Wladimir Klitschko in 2013.

He’s a seasoned elite fighter and, with 24 knockouts, he cannot be overlooked. Without a doubt, I’d put him in the top three of my hardest opposition. For starters, he’s an Olympic champion and you cannot achieve that without understanding boxing inside out.

I’ve had to adjust my style and prepare for a type of fight that I’ve not had before while he’s coming into the ring having boxed guys my size his whole career and will know exactly how he will want to attack. We’ve therefore spent this camp making sure we’re prepared for this and we’re ready to answer whatever Povetkin (right) has got.

He is a patient fighter and will wait for his chances. He’ll be looking to counter punch and be ready to offload a big right hand and left hook. He’s a fighter who wants to come forward, so I’m going to get in his space, try and put him on his back foot and turn it into a fight he doesn’t want. Owning the centre of the ring will see this fight go my way but, to do this, I know my defence needs to be so tight.

It’s been a sweat and blood-soaked training camp and we’ve pushed the sparring to the next level. I’ve been sparring people from around the world who bring with them different physicality and mentality, which is exactly what I needed.

I still consider myself a student of the game and, these past few weeks, this is my studying, the more I do the better prepared I am for the test.

You can learn so much in the gym from fighters around you and watching the greats from the past: footwork, being in the right position, getting the set-up right, how to get your punches off, feints. Day by day I’m learning and becoming a more rounded and better champion.

I’ve sparred more than 200 rounds in camp and everything I’ve learnt I’ll take into Saturday. You have to remember that, after five rounds, my sparring partners have the luxury of getting out of the ring, Povetkin will have nowhere to go when the bell goes for round six. When he’s taken to new depths we will see what he is all about.

I’m really interested to see his survival plan and, if he makes it to the final bell, then all respect to him. So far, he’s kept his cool in the run-up and is clearly looking to do his talking with his fists. I respect that and I like that. Too many fighters want to shout outside of the ring and are scared to get in it and prove their worth. Povetkin’s not like that.

This will be my 22nd fight and I’ve shown I can fight and go to war or I can box and outsmart my opponent. Saturday is a new test and another chance to learn and develop, ultimately helping me to continue building my legacy.

Watch Joshua v Povetkin, at Wembley Stadium on Saturday, live on Sky Sports Box Office (£19.95), from 6pm