WLADIMIR KLITSCHKO and Anthony Joshua went head-to-head in London to discuss their April 29 mega-fight at Wembley stadium. Klitschko hopes to reclaim the IBF and WBA heavyweight world titles he used to hold. Klitschko was keen to point out the similarities he has with Joshua. Both are big heavyweights, physically imposing, both have won Olympic gold medals as well as professional world titles.
But while they might wield similar tools, Anthony Joshua is hardly a carbon copy of Klitschko. They are different in style. Wladimir uses his jab to diffuse attacks, to dishearten and break down opponents until, frustrated, they come on to the heavier artillery of his right cross and backhand uppercut. The vintage Klitschko has good footwork, he can move subtly in and out of range.
Joshua is not as refined, he does not have the benefit of Klitschko’s vast experience. But Anthony approaches fights differently. His jab doesn’t work as defensive shield, his is an offensive weapon, launching the bombardment before he piles in with his powerful right hand.
“His style has worked for him. You can’t knock it. I respect it but you’ve got to go in there, land a few, give a few,” Joshua acknowledges. “It’ll be interesting to see what type of style I bring to the table against Klitschko. I like to adapt to my fighter. I’ll maybe watch what he’s doing and try and adapt. Maybe counter him, maybe move him on his back foot. I haven’t actually got a gameplan. That’s why I like shots being thrown at me, I figure them out.”
“I’ll hopefully figure Klitschko out as the round go on and then I can start punishing him,” he adds. “I’m punching harder.”
Joshua hints that he will apply pressure against Klitschko. “Even though [Tyson] Fury’s a bigger, taller man, he had Fury moving around the ring. So sometimes you might have to let him know that your presence is in the ring also. You can come out and make sure you’re feinting, pushing him back, in the clinches making sure you’re leaning on him, little things. Or you can come out and you could dance like Fury did, or slip in, slipping shots, counter him and the jab – boom. You just don’t know. It’s going to be fun, though,” Anthony promises. “If I box out of my skin and I box well, I should be fine.”
The new IBF champion doesn’t believe that Wladimir is a waning force. “I’ve had fights where I didn’t perform well and I wanted to come back and prove to everyone I’m much better than that. So that rest and getting his mind right, when he starts training camp, he’ll be locked in and so that should be good for himself and muscle memory. Even though he’s had a year and a half off, he’s been champion for so long, he’s trained for so many years [he has the] muscle memory. He’s had two training camps. Even though they went to waste because he didn’t fight, he’s got that in the locker. So he hasn’t been resting the whole time. The reason I mention these positive things is because when I do win, I will have faced the best Klitschko,” Joshua said. “They say he didn’t throw enough punches, believe me he’ll come in and throw punches this fight.”
Klitschko calls Joshua his “little bro” but Anthony appears to be shrugging off any attempts on Klitschko’s part to condescend or control him mentally. “I’m fine with all these things. If he can call me ‘little bro’ and all these things until the cows come home and then I go out there and spank him out in a round, it’s all irrelevant,” Joshua said. “I let it go over my head. You could let it get to you but for me it doesn’t get to me.
“I still have got a lot to prove.”
Joshua concludes, “It’s the start of a legacy. I think if Wlad wins he’ll say to himself, ‘I’m still the big bro.’ Do you know what I mean? And if he loses he’ll soon realise that the torch is changing hands. This is a completely different era. God willing I win, this is the start of a new legacy and of a new division, of new up and coming champions.”