WHEN the stakes are as high as they are for Anthony Joshua vs Wladimir Klitschko, any advantage is vital.
Both are in phenomenal physical condition – as was proven at the public workouts earlier this week – and both seem relaxed and confident ahead of what could be the biggest fight in British boxing history.
Given that they shared over 20 rounds of sparring with each other in 2014, there is familiarity between them but that hasn’t stopped Joshua from watching the abundance of footage available from his foe’s past fights.
“I think around 2005 was the good, sharp Wladimir, throwing more punches,” he said.
“When I’ve been watching Wladimir, his fights around 2005 are what I’ve been watching more of because I want to prepare for the better Wladimir. That’s what I try to watch, the sharper, the younger, the fitter Wladimir.”
Interestingly, Klitschko was not a world champion in 2005. He had just lost to Lamon Brewster and he fought twice in ’05, stopping Eliseo Castillo and going life and death with Samuel Peter before, winning on points. He won the IBF title against Chris Byrd a year later, kicking off his almost decade-long second reign as world champion.
The 41-year-old is an enormous step up in class for Joshua, who now holds the IBF title, though the unbeaten Londoner is still the betting favourite.
He is aware of the challenge ahead of him and insists he has prepared accordingly.
“Training camp, it stepped up, sparring 15 rounds and stuff like that. A lot more roadwork. The reason we took so long in camp is because we broke it down into phases,” he revealed.
“I like to be around familiar faces because it keeps me relaxed. I don’t want to build up any unneeded energy or nerves because, believe it or not, that’s as bigger killer as anything, stress and nerves. So I try to stay relaxed. When I’m walking out [to the ring] that’s when I’ll let the jar fill up with energy and nerves.”
Joshua is the faster, more explosive puncher in this fight and the prevailing wisdom is that his ferocious assaults will be too much for Klitschko. Then again, Wladimir is a master of nullifying his opponent’s strengths and there is every chance that he will attempt to use skill and wily tactics to shut ‘AJ’ down.
“He walks into my hands then, he doesn’t want to do that,” Joshua warned.
“It’s easy then. I spar with amateurs, those guys give me hell for four rounds and then a fresh one comes in, so if you slow the pace down, I think it’ll be fun.”