Joshua vs. Klitschko targeted for Nov.11 in Las Vegas
By Scott Gilfoid: British promoter Eddie Hearn has set aside November 11 for the rematch between heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko for Las Vegas, Nevada. Joshua, who holds the IBF/WBA heavyweight world titles, has already spent 10 days in Vegas scouting out the city to see how much he likes the area, and he had a good time, according to Hearn.
Joshua visited the Mayweather gym in Vegas, and he was even reportedly given an offer to spar with one of the heavyweights at the gym. Having Joshua fight the 41-year-old Klitschko in Vegas instead of the UK once again helps the long term goal of increasing the 6’5” Joshua’s popularity in the U.S. Hearn wants to turn Joshua into a PPV attraction in the U.S.
Former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis, who came from the UK, became a big star late in his career in the U.S. Lewis had some big fights against Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield. He never fought Riddick Bowe unfortunately. That would have been a great fight for the boxing public to see if Lewis could have fought Bowe during his prime before he started to have weight problems.
The other venues that were in the running for the Joshua-Klitschko 2 rematch were Dubai, Nigeria and Cardiff. Those would not have been ideal. Traveling would have been required for Nigeria and Dubai. Of course, there will still be a great deal of traveling needed for Joshua’s British boxing fans to have to fly or boat over to the U.S to see the Joshua vs. Klitschko rematch live if they’re lucky enough to purchase tickets for the fight before they sell out.
“I’ve been in Vegas with AJ, officially applying for my Nevada boxing license to promote there and that went well,” said Hearn to Sky Sports News HQ. “Vegas is the front runner and November 11 is the date that is penciled in. I believe Klitschko will take this fight and believe Vegas will be the one.”
Hearn met with representatives for the T-Mobile Arena and MGM in Las Vegas. Those are venues have the seating capacity of around 20,000 seats. That’s way off from the 90,000 seats Joshua-Klitschko’s previous fight had on April 29 at Wembley Stadium in London, UK. There were a ton of boxing fans that sold out the Wembley Stadium, with most of them being Joshua’s fans.
The positive thing about the Joshua-Klitschko rematch taking place in Vegas is the audience would be more evenly split than if the second fight were to take place in England once again. Joshua will still likely have more fans for the rematch than Klitschko, due to a lot of the British boxing fans being willing to travel to the States to see him fight.
Wladimir at least would have a fair amount of fans to cheer him on. Joshua’s fans did a good job of energizing him in the 10th round last April to give him a second wind to get back into the fight and eventually stop Klitschko in the 11th. Wladimir had Joshua gassed out in the 6th after knocking him down hard. Joshua was still tired 3 rounds later in the 9th. Wladimir could have gone for a knockout in rounds 7-9 to finish the job, but instead he played it safe and boxed the 27-year-old Joshua.
In hindsight, it was the worst decision of Wladimir’s career, as he threw away a perfectly winnable fight by playing it safe and not putting his foot on the accelerator to finish Joshua when he was fighting on fumes and hurt. For the boxing fans who say that things would have been different had Wladimir’s late trainer Emanuel Steward been in his corner, I disagree entirely. Wladimir did the same thing in his fight with David Haye in 2011 when Steward was still with him. Wladimir had a 30 pound weight advantage over the 210 lb. Haye, and he was dominating him with ease on size alone. Instead of Wladimir going after Haye to finish him in the later rounds and make it exciting for the boxing fans, he stayed on the outside and won a dull 12 round decision. If Wladimir couldn’t will himself to go after a small and over-matched fighter like Haye with Steward still guiding him, I don’t think anything would have been different had Steward worked his corner for the Joshua fight. It goes without saying that Steward would have pressed Wladimir to finish Joshua, but I doubt that he would have tried to carry out his directions.
There still would have been some risk involved in Wladimir trying for the knockout against Joshua. More than anything, I think the risk would have been Wladimir fading from using up too much energy while trying for the knockout. Wladimir punched himself out in his fight with Ross Puritty and his first fight with Lamon Brewster. Wladimir fought well in both fights, but he threw too many punches without getting a rest break to recover. Brewster took some enormous shots in the first fight. It was surprising the referee didn’t stop it. Puritty was fine against Wladimir due to the Ukrainian using too much movement in between throwing shots. Wladimir was weakening his own shots by not setting his feet when throwing them, and moving far too much. He looked weak from the early rounds of that fight.
“The amount of British fight fans that would travel there, it will be a momentous occasion and one that we will savor for a long time so fingers crossed it’s a party in Las Vegas on November 11,” said Hearn in talking about the Brits that would be willing to cross the pond to see Wladimir and Joshua get it on once more.
Like I said, I still see the crowd being a pro-Joshua audience for the rematch with Klitschko, but at least there will be some non-Joshua fans in the audience this time around. Wladimir is going to need to go after Joshua in the first 8 rounds to try and knock him out this time around. It would be short-sighted for Wladimir to try and stay on the outside and box for the entire 12 rounds. That’s not to say that Wladimir couldn’t win that way, but he would need to be completely disciplined for him to do that. This means that Wladimir would need to avoid holding.
Wladimir was hurt by Joshua in the 11th round when he attempted to clinch him. Joshua used that opportunity to nail Wladimir with a big uppercut to the head. He then knocked him down and got the stoppage with him still on his feet. If Wladimir stays on the outside, pot shots, jabs, and doesn’t look to clinch, he’s got an excellent chance of winning the fight. Joshua is more of a medium range to close type fighter. Joshua doesn’t have the ability to throw long shots from the outside or jab from the distance.
The reason for that is simple. With all that body building mass Joshua has on his 6’5”, 250 lb. frame, it’s not conducive for him to throw shots from long range. The flexibility isn’t there on Joshua’s frame for him to be effective on the outside, and it never will in my opinion. Even if Joshua lost 30 lbs. of the useless beach muscles he’s carrying around, he still wouldn’t have the flexibility to throw shots from long range. Joshua weighed around 220 lbs. when he won a controversial gold medal in 2012 London Olympics, and he was unable to throw power shots from the outside back then as well. As such, Wladimir has the ability to beat Joshua 10 out of 10 times, but he would have to be smart and above all disciplined to beat him.
Wladimir would have to resist clinching, and he couldn’t let Joshua get close to him like he would clearly be trying the entire fight. Joshua has slow feet, so Wladimir could easily avoid him, but he would need to be in top shape to move for 12 rounds without holding. If Wladimir fought the perfect fight, I think he would stop Joshua with his jabs and pot shots from the outside. But if he made the mistake of letting Joshua get his short range distance worked out, he’d probably knock Wladimir out once again. It’s that simple. The rematch comes down to whether Wladimir can fight a smart fight this time around. If he can, Joshua has no chance. He’s got too much muscle and he’s lousy at fighting on the outside.