Anthony Joshua will defend his WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight titles against Alexander Povetkin at Wembley on September 22.
Russia’s Povetkin is the mandatory challenger to his WBA title, and by fighting him Joshua should secure greater freedom in selecting his next opponent.
The 28-year-old Briton has been in training while negotiations with WBC champion Deontay Wilder stalled, but could yet face the American in April 2019.
“I can’t wait to get back in the ring. The end of March feels a long time ago now,” said Joshua, who beat Joseph Parker by unanimous points decision in Cardiff on March 31.
“Povetkin is a serious challenge that I will prepare meticulously for. He has serious pedigree and only a fool would underestimate what he brings to the table.
“Training hasn’t stopped for me, but the next 10 weeks ahead will be intense both mentally and physically. I will push myself to breaking point to make sure I am in peak condition for another huge night for British boxing at Wembley Stadium on September 22nd.”
IT’S ON! @anthonyfjoshua will defend his WBA,IBF,WBA and IBO World heavyweight titles against Alexander Povetkin at @wembleystadium on September 22! New York press conf tomorrow and London on Wednesday 🇬🇧🇷🇺 pic.twitter.com/NDCn7EpgvX— Eddie Hearn (@EddieHearn) July 16, 2018
Povetkin, 38, stopped David Price on the undercard of Joshua’s victory over Parker, having previously fought for the titles Joshua now holds in a 2013 defeat to Wladimir Klitschko.
“The battle for the world title has always been my goal,” Povetkin said. “I fought for the moment to face the strongest in the world and on September 22nd I get my opportunity.
“Anthony Joshua has four belts (including the little-known IBO title) and I want them all.
“I’m glad that our fight will finally take place. The meeting of two Olympic (super-heavyweight) champions (Povetkin won in 2004, Joshua in 2012) in the ring is destined to be a breathtaking event.”
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn added: “Last time (Joshua) was there (against Klitschko, in April 2017) he produced one of the most dramatic fights and endings in the history of the sport, and I expect this fight to be full of energy and drama.
“Povetkin is a top-three heavyweight and extremely dangerous but in AJ I see the best heavyweight in the world and I think we will see a major statement.”
Manny Pacquiao secured his first knockout win since 2009 as he stopped WBA welterweight champion Lucas Matthysse on Sunday.
The 39-year-old knocked down the Argentine as early in the third round with a stunning left uppercut that left fans in awe at the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur.
Matthysse continued to struggled as he dropped again in the fifth before crashing down again in the seventh which saw the end of the bout after referee Kenny Bayless stepped in.
“It was a long time ago since I’ve done that. I came out smoking hot,” said Pacquiao who extended his record to 60 wins, seven losses and two draws.
“I’m surprised I knocked him down so early in the third, fifth and seventh. We did a good job in training. We were not pushing hard, we controlled our pace and ourselves.
“I’m no longer young, so thanks to my trainer and all my team members.”
A shell-shocked Matthysse, who had a record of 36 knockouts in 39 wins with just four defeats, admitted Pacquiao was the better man.
“It’s most difficult to be fighting Manny Pacquiao,” he said. “He’s a great fighter. I lost to a great legend.”
Tyson Fury will take on Francesco Pianeta in the second fight of his comeback.
The 29-year-old will face the Italian at Windsor Park in Belfast on August 18.
Fury returned to the ring after more than two years out with victory over Sefer Seferi in June, although there were elements of farce about that fight as his opponent was pulled out of the contest after four rounds.
Fury gurned and showboated his way through much of the contest and earned a ticking-off from referee Phil Edwards in a fight the 6ft 9ins boxer could have ended at any point, should be have been inclined to, before Seferi’s unsatisfactory withdrawal.
Promoter Frank Warren insists it will be a more serious Fury who climbs into the ring later in the summer.
“The ideal for us in Belfast would be to get some worthwhile rounds into Tyson,” he wrote on frankwarren.com.
“I don’t believe we will have him playing up to the crowd on this occasion because he will need to be more business-like in a riskier fight and also because of his desire to start putting a marker down once again in the heavyweight division.
Tyson Fury’s comeback appearance in June was somewhat farcical. “Tyson informs me that he has shifted a bit more weight since his first return and this fight is about continuing to nudge him towards optimum fitness, which is where he needs to be before he is really stepped up.”
Fury’s comeback in Manchester last month was his first appearance since wresting the world heavyweight title from Wladimir Klitschko more than two and a half years ago.
He cited mental health problems for falling out of love with the sport but was sidelined further after subsequently testing positive for a banned steroid in February 2015.