Former world heavyweight champion Haye believes 39-year-old Russian Povetkin is “dangerous and under-rated.”
He expects Johsua to claim a comfortable points win at Wembley tonight in defence of his four world belts to extend his unbeaten run to 22 contests.
But Londoner Haye – now retired – insists that Povetkin is the most accomplished opponent 28-year-old Joshua has faced, including Wladimir Klitschko.
The winner could be in line for a meeting at Wembley next April with the victor in the clash between American WBC champion Deontay Wilder and Britain’s Tyson Fury in Los Angeles on December 1, which was announced in the USA in the early hours of Saturday.
Haye, the former WBA champion, said: “Povetkin is an Olympic gold medallist and former heavyweight champ who only ever lost, on points, to Wladimir Klitschko - his resume is solid.
“I've known Povetkin for many years, since the amateurs. He's a very dangerous and under-rated fighter. Not many people are giving him a shot in this fight but I believe he's the best opponent that Joshua has faced up until this point - and that includes Klitschko.
“Klitschko was 41 when they fought and, while Povetkin is in the twilight of his career at 39, I believe he's got some good rounds left in him.
“My prediction is that AJ wins this by a wide points or by a late stoppage. If the fight ends early, it could be from a big punch from Povetkin as he's shown, time and time again, his left hook is good.
“If you want to trade left hooks with him, he can knock you out - he can knock anybody out. You saw what he did to David Price the last time he was on these shores.
“Joshua needs to stay away from Povetkin's left hook. If there was ever an opponent that AJ has needed to keep at arm's length in terms of boxing at long range, it's against Povetkin as he likes to fight close, he's a master at inside fighting.
“Joshua is a big guy with long arms and he needs to use them to the maximum.”
Wembley is already booked for Joshua’s follow-up fight next April 13.
It could become a unification clash with the winner of the Wilder-Fury fight, which looks set to take place at the Staples Center in LA.
Haye added: “Joshua won’t be looking past Povetkin and he won’t want to talk to anyone about what comes next until this fight is fought.
“But clearly everyone would love Wilder or Fury as his next opponent. Fury v Wilder is a great proposition in its own right and I would love to see the winner fight the winner of Joshua v Povetkin. I think that would give us a true number one without argument.
“Assuming Joshua triumphs on Saturday night, whoever wins that fight would present Joshua’s biggest challenge yet and if the fight happened we would finally have an undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the World.”
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