Anthony Joshua v Wladimir Klitschko preview and prediction: Everything you need to know
- Credit: PA
One of the most anticipated boxing fights in years happens next week at Wembley Stadium. MARK HEATH previews the heavyweight title clash between Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko.
It's a classic boxing scenario, fit for a film - the young hungry lion, in this case our very own Anthony Joshua, meets the old master, here played by Wladimir Klitchsko, to determine who is the best in the world.
It's a fascinating fight, with so many storylines and questions to be answered - so let's get stuck in!
WHEN AND WHERE
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The duo will fight at Wembley on Saturday, April 29, in front of around 90,000 fans. The event will be shown live on Sky Sports Box Office.
Gates at the stadium open at 5.30pm, with the first fight set to start at 6.30pm. It's expected that the main event combatants will touch gloves and go to war at about 10pm.
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WHAT'S ON THE LINE?
The right to be called the best heavyweight boxer on the planet. Joshua will be defending his IBF world title for the third time, while the WBA Super heavyweight title will also be up for grabs, as will the IBO world title.
Klitschko, of course, held all the major titles before he was beaten on points in an upset by Britain's own Tyson Fury back in November 2015. Fury's since battled mental health issues and retired, but would be an obvious opponent for the winner here.
HOW DO THEY MATCH UP?
Joshua, 27, is 18-0 in his professional career. The London 2012 gold medallist has won all of his fights by stoppage and has never been past the seventh round. In contrast, Klitschko is 41 and has a 64-4 record, with 53 coming by KO. Before Fury beat him, he hadn't lost for 11 years.
Both fighters are 6ft 6ins tall, with Joshua having a slightly longer reach at 82ins to Klitschko's 81. The Ukranian is likely to come in slightly lighter too, with Joshua tipping the scales at 17st 11lbs for his last fight, compared to Klitschko's 17st 7lbs against Fury.
WHO'S THE FAVOURITE?
Joshua is the betting favourite with most bookies, with 2/5 being the most common bet. Klitschko is listed at 15/8 with most oddsmakers.
You're likely to get 4/6 on a Joshua KO, 7/2 on a Klitschko KO and similar odds on either to win on points, around 6 or 7/1. A draw is anything from 28-1 to 40-1.
The duo have actually shared a ring before, with Joshua serving as Klitschko's sparring partner back in 2014. The pair traded leather for around 20 rounds, with Wladimir praising the Brit's athleticism and Joshua impressed with the old champion's skills.
Of course, sparring is very different to full-on fighting, and both athletes say they were not looking to land their best shots, more work on defence and new techniques.
There are actually two key questions going into the fight, and we'll learn the answer to both at Wembley. One, how good actually is Joshua? And two, how much does Klitschko have left?
Despite being a world champion, Joshua hasn't really fought anyone of note, with his best win probably being Dillian Whyte in December 2015. He certainly has never been in with a man of Klitschko's calibre - but the Ukranian hasn't fought for over a year, and, at 41, won't be getting any better.
Joshua's style is based on his sickening power. He stalks his foes with effective ring cutting tactics before unloading his fistic bombs - and no-one has survived yet. In contrast, Klitschko is a safety-first fighter, who has proved a bit chinny in the past.
The Brit will surely look to come out fast and rock Klitschko early, but if Wlad can survive the early onslaught and get behind his exceptional jab, using it to set up a big right hand, then things will get tricky for Joshua, who has never gone beyond round seven.
SO WHO WINS?
A fascinating question. If Joshua doesn't show Klitschko too much respect and ruffles his feathers early, the odds will certainly be in his favour. He's younger and more powerful – and lesser men have dropped and stopped Klitschko in the past.
But if Klitschko is allowed to fight his fight, establish his big jab and land the occasional thudding right hand, he is probably the more skilled and could probably box his way to a points win.
All things taken into consideration, I think Joshua will just be too much for the great former champion. Joshua by KO in rds 5-7.