Tony Bellew believes Alexander Povetkin is a different animal since being put under stricter doping guidelines by his opponents.
In a bid to seal a fight with Anthony Joshua, Povetkin enrolled in drug-testing procedures following previous failures with both the WBA and WBC.
Although the Russian was reinstated by both organisations upon appeal, Bellew says he’s noticed clear differences in the ex-world heavyweight champion which were apparent in his last fight with David Price and will be telling against Joshua.
“I couldn’t say Povetkin was on drugs against David Price because that’s the most vulnerable I’ve ever seen him. Povetkin has been in trouble with doping regulators before and he’s a completely different man when he’s on drugs,” Bellew said in his Metro column.
“It doesn’t matter how many tests Povetkin fails, he’ll always be allowed to continue. That’s the sad state of boxing. Not many people will admit to that in boxing, but I will. It’s disgusting, but that’s the way it is.
“I have no problem saying, I would absolutely annihilate Povetkin if he wasn’t on drugs. But if he’s on drugs I haven’t got a hope. That’s the harsh reality.
“Joshua has done that time and time again, and I believe he’ll deliver that when he faces Povetkin. I think he’ll absolutely obliterate him. Smash him in three or four rounds at most.
“Price was five seconds away from ending Povetkin. It was just that the bell saved him,” he added.
A world title shot against the division’s best in Joshua, possibly on September 22 at Wembley, will surely represent Povetkin’s final chance to regain a foothold in the division.
At 38, and with his best years clearly behind him, the Olympic gold medalist is seen as cannon fodder for Joshua, who was locked in talks for a unification with Deontay Wilder until the encounter collapsed last week.