On April 29th, Great Britain’s Anthony Joshua will finally get his chance to firmly cement himself as one of the best heavyweight boxers on the planet when he takes on Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley Stadium.
Joshua, currently unbeaten in 18 fights with 18 knockouts, is a magnificent specimen, but he will be tested by the more experienced Klitschko in what could be a memorable battle for boxing fans from all four corners of the globe.
Cast your minds back to the 2012 Olympic Games in London: Anthony Joshua had just won gold in the super heavyweight division but his focus was firmly on the future.
Even then, the Watford native looked destined to eventually win a world heavyweight title, and he achieved that goal in February 2016 after securing the IBF title after knocking defending champion Charles Martin out in the second round.
Since then, Joshua has gone from strength to strength; earning a convincing seventh round triumph against Dominic Breazeale before knocking Eric Molina out in the third round in his most recent bout. Joshua’s record speaks for itself: 18 wins, all by way of knockout.
For the visiting Klitschko to stand any chance of victory, he must respect Joshua’s achievements and the Ukrainian will know that he is in for a difficult fight come April 29th.
If truth be told, the British fighter is still a bit of an unknown quantity. It is strange to suggest that after he has been involved in 18 fights but he has completed less than 30 rounds during his professional boxing career.
And going up against somebody with Klitschko’s experience could come back to haunt him if the former heavyweight champion manages to produce his best form in what could be the final fight of his illustrious tenure at the summit of world boxing. When the betting markets opened for this fight, you couldn’t split them, but the money has come in for a Joshua win in recent months.
At the time of writing, you can back the Brit at around 2/5 with most bookmakers through Oddschecker, but plenty of boxing lovers will be tipping a Klitschko win. In this situation, your head is probably saying Joshua but the heart is longing for one final Klitschko success.
To be honest, a Joshua defeat wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world for him. While it would end his chances of going unbeaten throughout his entire professional career, falling to somebody like Klitschko might help him to focus and prepare more for future fights.
At 41 years old, the boxing veteran might be that little bit too old but he has been there and done it all and he will be desperate to avoid a fifth career defeat next month. Klitschko will need to use smart tactics to stand any chance of claiming an incredible 65th victory and the Ukrainian will have a plan to combat the faster Joshua.
On paper, a triumph for the defending champion looks likely but it would be foolish to write Klitschko out based on past achievements alone. The longer this fight goes on and Joshua enters unchartered territory, the more confident Klitschko will feel of snatching a surprise win.
— Riath Al-Samarrai (@riathalsam) March 29, 2017
For Joshua, this is about more than just winning – it is about proving himself on the big stage against one of the very best in the business.
Yes, Klitschko is older and less agile, but you can only fight what is in front of you and the British star will already have one eye on a potential bout with Deontay Wilder. The American might be the only man who can challenge Joshua’s standing as the dominant force in boxing; he has won all 38 of his professional fights so far, with 37 coming by way of knockout.
Fans will be keeping an eye out for that mouth-watering contest if Joshua gets past the Ukrainian, but nobody is thinking about that bout just yet. If nothing else, boxing fans from all over the world will be hoping for a close bout; it will be interesting to see how Joshua reacts if he takes a few hits on the chin.
He is far from the finished article but this is his time. Joshua has fought enough bums in his early career and a win against the great Wladimir Klitschko should win over any lingering critics.