Anthony Joshua and Alexander Povetkin have started their punishing training camps and two men are set to become sparring partners for each heavyweight.
Joshua, the unified world champion, will defend his WBA ‘super’, IBF and WBO titles against Povetkin in front of 90,000 people at Wembley stadium on September 22, live on Sky Sports Box Office.
In the weeks ahead, Joshua and Povetkin will be toughening themselves in arduous sparring sessions, and we tracked down fighters who will be trading punches with the big-hitting duo.
Martin Bakole’s trainer Billy Nelson has confirmed the unbeaten Congolese man will be sharing the ring with AJ, while the Poland-born Izu Ugonoh has been contacted about assisting Povektin’s preparations.
When will Martin be sparring with Joshua?
Billy Nelson: We’re hopeful that Martin gets his visa this week, or at the latest, early part of next week and basically the following day we’ll be in Sheffield to spar Anthony up until the last day of sparring for his forthcoming fight against Povetkin.
Has Bakole impressed Joshua in past sessions?
Billy Nelson: He was, as was [trainer] Robert McCracken. I think it’s fair to say that it was by far the best sparring partner they had there at the time. Not that I consider Martin a sparring partner by any means, but the best of people helping Anthony prepare for his contest. They are well aware that Martin can do as many rounds as they wish.
How long will Martin spend in camp with AJ?
Billy Nelson: The more the merrier. I think the most he did was eight. I prefer Martin to get the rounds in with Anthony, rather than other boys coming in and sharing the sparring, because Martin is not a sparring partner. This is purely gaining a lot of experience.
Can Bakole test himself at the highest level in the future?
Billy Nelson: He is ready for that level. I honestly believe he is more than capable. If he was to fight Anthony Joshua tomorrow, you would be in for an absolutely fantastic fight. It’s two great fighters.
When is Martin fighting next?
He’s out on October 13 in London.
When were you contacted about sparring with Povetkin?
I’ve had people trying to reach me for this camp from three different areas. People apparently feel I might be the right guy who can simulate Joshua’s movement. I could be the right guy to help Povetkin get ready for his fight.
Do you think you can imitate Joshua in sessions?
Anthony Joshua is a guy who is perfecting his right hand, and that’s his big punch. I think that’s also my strength. I believe that’s what they want to have in camp to make sure they are ready for what Joshua is going to bring to the table.
I consider myself a strong guy. I know Joshua is a tall guy, he’s taller than me definitely, but I’m taller than Povetkin, so I’m sure that will be helpful.
When will you head out to Povetkin’s camp?
The big question is – it has to go along with my plans. I would help Povetkin get ready, but I also have to look out for my own plans, when my next fight is coming. If everything goes right, then I wouldn’t mind going for two weeks.
Can you still learn from sparring with Povetkin?
Definitely. He was an Olympic gold medallist, very experienced as an amateur. As a professional, he’s only got one loss to the great Wladimir Klitschko. He’s at the top of the best heavyweights in the world.
But at the same time, I feel like I’ve also had experience being in the gym with world champions such as Joseph Parker or Wladimir Klitschko, also Bermane Stiverne. Sparring together would be beneficial to both of us.
What are your future plans?
I spoke to him [Eddie Hearn] and he said he would be pleased to put me on one of his cards, whether it’s the UK or the States.
I think the UK would be great. There’s a lot of good heavyweights in England right now and I would be ready to fight any of them. There is also a huge Polish and Nigerian community in England, so I feel it’s the right place to be at.
Watch Anthony Joshua defend his world heavyweight titles against Alexander Povetkin at Wembley Stadium, on September 22, live on Sky Sports Box Office.
(c) Sky News 2018: Joshua vs Povetkin: Pair line-up sparring partners