This weekend, Wladimir Klitschko (64-4, 54 KOs), the world’s second longest reigning champion of all time behind Joe Louis, will face the young lion in Anthony Joshua (18-0, 18 KOs). The battle is so big that it sold out the Wembley Arena in London at a staggering 90,000 seats.
At 41, Klitschko is looking to feel the strap of victory across his waist yet again after having an illustrious career where for ten years he dominated the heavyweight division. After losing a unanimous decision to Tyson Fury in 2015, this fight is more about legacy extension than legacy solidification for the former champion.
“Can you imagine my next opponent is ... a guy whose age is exactly the number of how long he has been in boxing – 27 years,” said Klitschko at the final press conference on Thursday. “It’s a pretty amazing task. Is it degradation that I’m actually a challenger and underdog in this fight after 27 years in the sport? I don’t think so. I think it’s great.”
Joshua took the world by storm after knocking out Charles Martin last year in the second round, winning the IBF heavyweight title. Since then, he has shown that he has consistent knockout power with wins over Dominic Breazeale and Eric Molina. However, Klitschko, although in his forties, is not your average fighter and this will truly be the biggest test of Joshua’s still nascent career.
“This is just a fight,” said Joshua at the press conference. “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. We do talk about experience, but even when I was fighting guys with lesser experience I was preparing for this. I’ve prepared since day one for this.”
Both fighters won gold medals at their respective Olympics and like Foreman, Klitschko has withstood the athletic sands of time. With Deontay Wilder looming in the foreground as the next biggest fight, especially while Tyson Fury is still on suspension, the ramifications for the inner and boxing are huge.
“This is another stop., you can’t sit down and enjoy the fruits of your labor,” said Joshua. “As you sit down on your throne there is always someone knocking on your door to take you down. For me, it’s just another stepping stone.”
For Klitschko, it’s always been about the glory of being the best. He is a personal fulfillment type of guy that only sees the titles as the goal.
“The belts are very important,” said Klitschko. "I’ve been attached to these belts for a very long. I had those belts in my past fight, and I’m fighting for these belts in this fight. The only difference is in my last fight, they went to the opposite corner. So my goal and obsession is for those belts to land in my corner, in my hands.“
With both fighters standing at 6-foot-6 the only mismatch is the experience on this level and the age of the competitors. Only time will tell which variable will overtake the other.
Catch all the heavyweight action this Saturday live from the sold out Wembley Arena in London live on Showtime at 4:15pm EST / 1:15pm PST with a replay live on HBO at 11:00pm EST / 8:00pm PST.