Get a full preview and prediction here for this weekend’s huge Heavyweight fight – Anthony Joshua vs. Wladimir Klitschko.
To call Saturday’s boxing main event big is an understatement. Anthony Joshua (18-0; 18 KO) vs. Wladimir Klitschko (64-4; 53 KO) is the kind of fight we should be seeing more of in boxing – a true clash between the top dogs. This is a Heavyweight title fight for the WBA, IBO, and IBF titles. Ring Magazine has it as a battle between the division’s #1 contender (Klitschko) and #5 (Joshua). The fight will air live on Showtime this Saturday, April 29 with a fight time of 4:15 p.m. ET and will be replayed on HBO that night at 11:00 p.m. ET. Both HBO and Showtime broadcasts will only include the main event, with the rest of the card from Wembley Stadium available internationally.
How do these two stack up?
Joshua: 27 years old | 6’6” | 82″ reach | orthodox stance
Klitschko: 41 years old | 6’6″ | 81″ reach | orthodox stance
What have these two done recently?
Joshua: W – Eric Molina (TKO) | W – Dominic Breazeale (TKO) | W – Charles Martin (KO)
Klitschko: L – Tyson Fury (UD) | W – Bryant Jennings (UD) | W – Kubrat Pulev (KO)
How did these two get here?
Anthony Joshua won gold at the 2012 Olympics in London, and has been a national hero of UK Boxing ever since. He’s been a busy fighter, putting together an 18-0 record in a bit over 3 years. All 18 wins have come via KO, and he’s only gone past the third round twice (both of those ended in round 7). He’s obviously a heavy puncher with a strong grasp on fundamentals that he uses to quickly lay on the power and overwhelm opponents. He’s a world champion, and a huge star in the UK. BUT… he’s never faced anyone even remotely in the league of Klitschko. His world title win came over Charles Martin, who had no right being a champion, and he has no fights against top level fighters. This is a massive, massive step up for him.
Wladimir Klitschko went undefeated for over 11 years, from April 2004 to November 2015. During that time, he completely cleaned out (and, in the opinion of many, killed) the Heavyweight division. Then he lost to Tyson Fury in a huge upset, and has been inactive ever since. In the early part of his career, the narrative was the Klitschko was chinny, as the 3 losses in the first half of his career were all via stoppage. He has never fully shaken that reputation, even though Fury took him to a decision. Against Kubrat Pulev in 2014, Klitschko was pushed, and he responded with an entertaining and violent performance, putting Pulev down in 5 rounds. Since then, he looked a bit rough around the edges against Bryant Jennings, and then downright bad against Tyson Fury. Klitschko is now 41 years old. With brother Vitali retired, it’s easy to envision a loss here being the last time we see a Klitschko in the ring.
What can fans expect?
There are so many X factors here that it is hard to say entirely. Klitschko’s style is typically pretty straightforward – use the jab to keep opponents at bay, hook when they get close, clinch when they get too close. But Fury completely befuddled Klitschko, using a combination of his size and his awkward movement to put Klitschko off his game. Tellingly, once he was off, the long-time champion could never make an adjustment and floundered through the fight. Given that performance and Joshua’s KO streak, AND the old Klitschko KO’s, AND his year plus of inactivity at age 41, it’s easy on paper to pick a quick and decisive Joshua KO. But it can’t be said enough – Joshua has never fought an opponent anywhere close to this level. That’s not to say he can’t win this, but anyone calling it a lock is banking on potential that we have yet to see fully on display. Joshua does not have the movement of Fury, though he does have the size. Surely Klitschko will try to make this ugly – clinch the youngster up, slow him down, avoid the power. I suspect that he succeeds at that for awhile, but that eventually, Joshua lands a big shot and we see that the 41 year old chin of Wladimir Klitschko can’t deal with the 27 year old punch of Anthony Joshua.
Prediction: Joshua, KO R5
Who should watch?
You. This is a HUGE event, and it potentially brings the Heavyweight division back to life. It also may end with the future of the division becoming the present by knocking the past out cold and into retirement. Which is one of those historic moments you want to see unfold.