Video: Anthony Joshua vs. Wladimir Klitschko – Head-to-head at final press conference
By Jim Dower: Wladimir Klitschko (64-4, 53 KOs) says he can see himself in IBF heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua (18-0, 18 KOs), and he knows how he thinks, and most importantly, he knows exactly what the 27-year-old British fighter will be doing inside the ring this Saturday night. Wladimir isn’t worried about defeat, because he’s already been there and done that. Wladimir says the pressure if off of him now. He’s no longer a world champion, and he doesn’t have the carry the weight and the huge responsibility of being the heavyweight world champion.
Wladimir and Joshua met for the final press conference on Thursday in London, England. They had much to discuss about their important fight this Saturday night on April 29 at the sold out Wembley Stadium in London. Their fight is going to be seen live by 90,000 fans, as well as many more watching from home on Sky Box Office, HBO and Showtime Championship Boxing.
The two giant heavyweights stood for the face off today, and the 6’6” Wladimir looked a little bit taller than the 6’6” Joshua.
This fight will be Joshua’s 3rd title defense of his International Boxing Federation heavyweight title he won last year in beating champion Charles Martin by a 2nd round knockout in April 2016. Joshua has defended his IBF title twice successfully in beating Dominic Breazeale and Eric Molina by knockout. For Klitschko, this will be his first fight as a non-world champion since his fight against Chris Byrd in April 2006, 11 years ago. It’s hard to believe that Wladimir was a world champion for such a long time, but it shows you how dominating he was when he was on the top of his game.
Klitschko lost his IBF/IBO/WBA/WBO heavyweight titles in November 2015 in getting beaten by England’s Tyson Fury by a close 12 round unanimous decision. Wladimir could have won the fight if he’d fought harder in the last four rounds of the contest. Klitschko gave up too many rounds against Fury by playing it safe instead of fighting hard and throwing his right hand, which had been his signature bread and butter punch for most of his career.
“I’m so obsessed with winning. I realized that life is a circle, and I see myself in AJ. I do believe I know how he thinks, how he goes, and how the actual fight is going to be,” said Wladimir about Joshua. ”I feel young, hungry, humble and totally obsessed with my goal to raise my hands again,” said Wladimir.
Wladimir probably can predict how Joshua will fight on Saturday. Joshua tends to be cautious at the start of his fights in throwing jabs and mostly single power shots. After Joshua gets warmed up, he goes after his opponents with big power shots. In Joshua’s grudge match against Dillian Whyte in December 2015, Joshua forgot about boxing and went after him in the 1st round. This was a mistake that almost cost Joshua the fight, as Whyte staggered him with a left hook in round 2, and had him looking very tired at the end of the round. Whyte hurt his left shoulder in the 2nd round and was unable to use it to throw hard power shots for the remainder of the contest. Joshua later knocked Whyte out in the 7th. After that fight, Joshua was more cautious at the start of his fights. He’s likely to be that way against Wladimir on Saturday unless he’s forced to brawl with him in the opening round. If Wladimir wants to make it a war right off the bat, then Joshua will give him the fight that he wants. There will be 90,000 boxing fans cheering Joshua on to get him properly motivated to knock Wladimir out.
It might not be enough for Wladimir to get the victory by him stating he’s feeling young. It’s one thing to say you feel young, but it’s quite another thing to actually be young. What is working against Wladimir in him having a good chance of winning the fight against Joshua on Saturday isn’t just his advanced age of 41. It’s also the lack of punch resistance that Wladimir has shown during his pro boxing career. Wladimir has folded when facing big punchers in the past when he was younger. He’s never shown much ability to take heavy shots without getting knocked out.
Joshua is the type of fighter that Wladimir would have lost to even if he were younger. That’s not to say that Wladimir couldn’t possibly beat Joshua. He might get him out of there with one of his own power shots, but I think the odds would have been against Wladimir beating Joshua at any time in his career. Wladimir’s brother Vitali Klitschko would have had a better chance of beating Joshua because of his strong chin and punching power. Vitali would have dragged Joshua into a long distance war of attrition and he might have had too much stamina for him in the end.
“Defeat? I’ve been there, I’ve done that,” said Wladimir. I got up, shook it off and came back stronger. Just a little help (for Joshua) – there’s nothing scary about it. Obsession is love in extreme shape. I’m in love with my goal,” said Wladimir.
It’s fine for Wladimir to have a goal of winning a heavyweight title again, but he will need to fight smart on Saturday, take risks, and not play it safe the way he did in his last fight against Tyson Fury. Wladimir will not beat Joshua by being passive. We’ve seen how Joshua has been able to dispatch 18 of his past foes after they fought in a passive manner. Some of them had the wrong-headed idea that they could wear Joshua down by sticking around until the second half of the contest. When that failed to work, they were knocked out quickly. Some of the guys that Joshua has fought have been simply afraid to be punished by him when they would attempt to hit him. So instead of throwing punches, they froze and did nothing because they didn’t want to get hit. Without any punches thrown back at him, Joshua would knock them anyway.
“I win. It’s not complicated,” said Joshua about his fight against Klitschko. ”Let’s not overthink it. This isn’t rocket science. This is just a fight. Let’s strip it right back to what it is – a young lion, ferocious, hungry, very determined. I left no stone unturned in training camp,” said Joshua.
Joshua is making no bones about his fight against the 41-year-old Klitschko. He knows what he sees in the aging Ukrainian heavyweight, and he feels he’s going to win the fight without a doubt. Wladimir is going to need to shake up the strong self-confidence that Joshua has, because he REALLY believes he’s going to win the fight on Saturday.
Wladimir hasn’t given any hints to the boxing media what he plans on using for his battle tactics against Joshua. It’s quite likely that Wladimir will be moving, jabbing and holding a lot. He would be taking a major risk if he decided to throw right hands and left hooks. Wladimir has the hand speed to land those shots, but he would be leaving himself open to being countered. If Wladimir could take Joshua’s big power shots, then it would be well worth it for him to test his power on the chin of Joshua, but it’s doubtful that he can handle getting hit hard by Joshua repeatedly without getting knocked out on Saturday.
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