Boxing’s heavyweight division has been quiet for the longest time. A few decades ago, the big men of boxing were all that the public talked about but currently, they are more of an afterthought. The fight between reigning IBF and WBA champion Anthony Joshua and former undisputed champion Wladimir Klitschko is definitely a step in the right direction.
Casual fans may be a little surprised that Klitschko is no longer the champion as Wladimir and his brother Vitali have dominated the division for many years. The younger brother continued on after Vitali retired but he lost his unified IBF, WBA, and WBO heavyweight titles to Tyson Fury back in November of 2015 via unanimous decision.
These titles would later on be vacated after Fury’s inability to grant Klitschko a rematch along with the champion’s drug and health issues.
And during that time, a young guy named Anthony Joshua stepped up to claim one of these vacant belts.
Joshua started his career back in 2013 but he quickly moved up the rankings as he knocked out every opponent put in front of him. He got a huge break in April of 2016 as he fought Charles Martin for the IBF heavyweight championship. Joshua has since defended this belt successfully twice, knocking out Dominic Breazeale and Eric Molina, to keep his undefeated record intact.
Those three names are not necessarily top guys in the sport of boxing. In fact, they are barely known outside of the hardcore fans. The 27-year-old Joshua has compiled an impressive record of 18 wins without a defeat but it has not been against top opposition.
Klitschko will definitely be the biggest challenge to the young champion even if he is already 41 years of age.
Dr. Steelhammer has already done all there is to accomplish in the sport of boxing. He won a gold medal for Ukraine in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. It took him four years to get his first title match but he made sure it was worth the wait as he defeated Chris Byrd for the WBO heavyweight crown.
In the next 14 years, Klitschko only suffered two defeats via knockout at the hands of Corie Sanders and Lamon Brewster. Getting in one strong punch would prove to be the only way to defeat him during his prime but no boxer ever got a decision over him until his lackluster performance against Fury where he lost via UD.
The two have shown respect to each other throughout the promotion of their fight and it seems they did not need a pre-fight skirmish as the Wembley Stadium will be completely sold out with 90,000 fans all set to witness this fight live.
However, Joshua said that the respect will got out the window as soon as the opening bell rings.
“Trust me, when leather starts landing on your jaw that respect goes out the window,” Joshua told Sky Sports News HQ after their final open workout.
“I have met opponents that I don’t like and I have met some opponents that I do like but at the end of the day the destination and the goal has always been the same and that is winning.”
Klitschko, in their final presser, said that he was impressed with the physique of his younger opponent.
“I have never seen AJ as big as he is right now,” said Klitschko. “He’s as big as probably Arnold Schwarzenegger in his best times.”
However, he also said that Joshua is limited as a fighter, labelling him as just “a puncher.”
Joshua can definitely punch as none of his opponents have heard the final bell against him. However, Klitschko does pretty well against pure punchers like Calvin Brock and Hasim Rahman. The fighters who have managed to knock out Klitschko were boxers who could also punch and there’s a big difference.
Even Vitali likes the way his younger brother matches up with Joshua as he think his jab and ability to move around the ring and put punches together could negate the Brit’s punching power.
However, there are a lot of pundits who are saying that Joshua will prove to be too much for the older fighter. It’s no secret that the punch output of Klitschko has gone down considerably in the past few years and that would look worse opposite a hard worker such as Joshua.
Klitschko is the favorite to win this but this always happens in boxing. The old champions stick around and remain favorites until they are dethroned by a younger, hungrier fighter.
Catch the Anthony Joshua-Wladimir Klitschko world heavyweight title fight on TV5 on April 30. Telecast starts at 1:00PM.