As we edge closer to one of the biggest boxing bouts in the history of the sport, Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko are preparing for what looks to be a 50:50 clash. On the one side, Joshua’s fans claimed the young heavyweight phenomenon would swipe aside the ageing Klitschko as he has done his previous 18 professional opponents, and then continue his march towards global stardom. On the other, Klitschko supporters have made no secret that their champion’s loss to Tyson Fury was a blip and this fight against Joshua will see the Ukrainian reclaim three of the five belts he lost at the end of 2015.
While this is a fight many expect not to last until beyond the fourth round, it certainly is possible that the two men will still be standing come the latter stages of the fight in front of 90,000 fans at Wembley Stadium on April 29. So let’s take a closer look at the different areas where this historic fight could be won and lost.
Size and Training
For both men, meeting a fighter with similar physical statistics in the ring is rare. While both Joshua and Klitschko are 6′ 5″, with the Englishman’s 82″ reach one inch longer than his opponent, the Ukrainian is expected to weigh more when stepping on the scales on April 28. The former champion established himself as one of the division’s most dominant fighters in a generation and many claimed it was his size and strength that were instrumental to his success. Once again, Klitschko has been locked away in his training base in the Austrian mountains, working with Jonathon Banks and an army of sparring partners.
In Joshua, though, Klitschko will meet someone who could well be even stronger than him. While the 2012 Olympic champion has to consume up to 5,000 calories a day in order to get the right amount of carbohydrates and protein on an intense training day, as highlighted in Betway Insiders infographic, Joshua is rarely sluggish in the ring. Even if the heavyweight starts the day with porridge, two slices of wholemeal toast, a banana, five poached eggs AND two pots of Greek yoghurt, he will still be one of the quickest opponents Klitschko has faced, remarkably quick in fact – once beating Mo Farah in a BBC Superstars 100-metre race in 11:53 seconds. Joshua’s nutritionist Mark Ellison explains that he also uses “liquids to get in some proteins and carbohydrates quickly” during long days of training when there isn’t much time to eat, citing one of the boxer’s sponsors Lucozade as a refuelling energy drink.
Form and Experience
Since Klitschko last stepped into the ring, Joshua has won the IBF heavyweight title in April 2016 and established himself as the heir-apparent to Floyd Mayweather as the king of boxing. Having gone 22 fights and 11 years unbeaten, Klitschko’s reign as champion came to an end with something of whimper rather than a roar, suffering a lacklustre points defeat to Tyson Fury in December 2015.
After a proposed rematch with Fury fell through, Klitschko’s career has been at a standstill. During that time, though, Joshua has done a good job of taking over. After beating Dillian Whyte to win the British title at the end of 2015, Joshua made light work of newly crowned IBF champion Charles Martin last April before steamrolling through Dominic Breazeale in June and ending 2016 by destroying long-time contender Eric Molina.
In terms of experience however, Klitschko has a clear advantage. As well as his own incredible career, starting with an Olympic gold medal and progressing to holding all but one of the major world titles, Wladimir has also gained experience from being around his brother, Vitali, even through the low points such as being knocked out by Corrie Sanders in 2003 and then Lamon Brewster in 2004. As for Joshua, he has yet to taste any real disappointment over the past six years. Having turned professional on the back of his memorable gold medal win at the London Olympics, Joshua has been comfortably beating all his opponents since October 2013, aside from a big shot from Dillian Whyte in the third round of their clash.
What next for the winner?
If Klitschko were to prevail, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine a scenario where the 41-year-old doesn’t walk away from the sport. With the likes of Luis Ortiz and Deontay Wilder waiting for their shot at the winner, Klitschko may feel he has achieved what he wanted and walk away. Joshua, meanwhile, is still very much at the beginning of his career, and victory at Wembley would be the start of another exciting phase of the British heavyweight star’s journey.