HE may be the challenger, and the underdog, but Wladimir Klitschko plans to assume control of his mammoth heavyweight clash with Anthony Joshua at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.
The 41-year-old Ukrainian arrived in England on Wednesday, fist-bumping, smiling and wise-cracking as if he were on a political campaign trail, rather than on the brink of his attempt to obliterate the rise of British boxing’s biggest star.
Having said that, his charm offensive is seducing and could even see some switch their allegiance – it wouldn’t be the first time.
“Last night when we had an open training session, I was booed at the beginning but cheered at the end when I finished my workout,” he said yesterday.
“It was déjà vu in a way. I saw it with my brother and Herbie Hide years ago, I’ve seen it with Vitali and [Tomasz] Adamek in Poland, I’ve seen it in Germany when I fought Alex Schulz. I was booed terribly by 19,000 people, but I was cheered at the end. I understand fans supporting their countryman, but I also understand that sport is an international language of performance. If you perform well, people accept you with cheering.”
— Klitschko (@Klitschko) April 27, 2017
The two-time heavyweight champion of the world has certainly had a positive reception from the British public so far, though it remains to be seen what reaction he will get in the national stadium tomorrow night.
It’s unlikely that ‘Dr Steelhammer’ will be too concerned though – when he wins, he does it his way, not how others want him to.
Joshua believes Klitschko has been playing mind games for weeks and he is correct. Klitschko pleads his innocence – but already visualises himself as the new IBF and WBA heavyweight champion.
“If you’re focusing on somebody else, you’re totally losing it,” he proclaimed.
“I’m focused on myself, I don’t care how that’s going to be received. I just feel like saying things and doing things the way I want to do it because I’m the man, this is my event and I’m the winner. Already, before the fight, I am.
“This is my opinion; this is my event, even if he’s home and the majority of the crowd will be his fans. I totally get it, but I’m taking it as my event, my night, my fight, my ring and it’s my win.”