THE young beast vs the ageing lion…. There is a divide in opinion from boxing fans and critics, as they weigh up the contest considering AJ’s relative inexperience and the fact that Klitschko turned 41 years old in March and is entering the ring after over 18 months of inactivity.

People are wondering whether too much too soon for AJ? or too much, too late for Wlad!

What we need is … The Science Behind Anthony Joshua vs Wladimir Klitschko!

In this article, Boxing Science will be look at the numbers and training methods to breakdown the science behind this heavyweight mega-fight.

An Ageing Klitschko!

Age is just a number … but the numbers run out in sport, especially in a sport that is so physically demanding as boxing.

A lot is made of athletes being over the hill by the time they reach 30. But physiologically there’s probably not much difference, all things being equal.

Where we might see older athletes competing less well is probably due to a complex interaction of past injuries (that limit effective movement) or reasons for decreased motivation (due to years of mundane training camps).

Excessive weight gain and loss can also affect a boxers metabolic rate. This can increase difficulty in making weight – draining an athlete during camp and negatively affecting training and, in turn, strength and fitness.

Fortunately for Klitschko, he has stayed in really good shape and quite active throughout over the past 20 years. However, this has been his longest period of in-activity of his 68-fight career, and many questioned his battle with father-time following a poor performance and defeat to Tyson Fury.

It was clear to see that against Tyson Fury, Klitschko was not as active, aggressive and using his backhand. Fury was tricky and slippery from a southpaw stance, that threw off Klitschko’s normal tactics.

Compubox stats report that Klitschcko threw an average of 19 punches per round, landing just 4 punches. This is a bad turn out in anyones eyes, but how do these compare to past performances?

Wlad stats

So did Wlad get beat by Tyson because he was old?

Based on punch stats there are no obvious signs of a steady decline as his recent performance against Bryant Jennings had higher punches landed, average thrown per round and percentage success rate than some of his previous fights. However, his success rate against Tyson Fury was not that far away from the David Haye fight. What does this tell us?

Did both Fury AND Haye provide The Blueprint

Although very different performances and outcomes, both Tyson Fury and David Haye reduced Klitschko’s success rate and total punches thrown. Looking at the list above, Fury and Haye stand out to have better movement and defensive skills than Klitschko’s previous opponents. This suggests that to reduce Klitschko’s success, AJ may need to adopt the tricky head movement and fast feet of his British predecessors. These could be the key areas for Joshua to focus on during this camp – very technical work, but how can sport science help him physically?

Trunk conditioning to help the head

Slips, dips, lean backs, rolls are all effective head movements requiring different movements of the core.

AJ should start the camp by developing core strength from various angles through heavy-loaded / stabilisation exercises that resist forces, such as Suitcase Deadlift, Supine Holds, Landmine Rotations.

Explosive medicine ball throws should be integrated into the second phase to develop the stretch-shortening of the core muscles. This will help improve the speed and force generated by the core when moving the head and delivering hurtful counterpunches.

High-Intensity Conditioning

Wladimir Klitschko is by far Joshua’s biggest test to date, therefore he should be more durable than AJ’s previous opponents and could be the first to go the distance with Joshua. So, it doesn’t take a scientist to tell you that Joshua will need to be fitter than ever, but the question is what type will benefit AJ best?

Well, we can’t provide the answer! It all depends on AJ’s current physiological profile and previous training.

However, if he looks to be the bigger guy (mentioned later), he will need to develop the muscle’s ability to extract and utilise energy as more muscle mass will create higher energy demands.

You can do this by targeting peripheral adaptations using 30 second max effort sprints with 3 minutes recovery.

30-seconds sprints will help your boxing performance by increasing your upper-capacity for high-intensity performance. This will allow you to do what you want, when you want.

Watch the video below to find out more:

Plyometrics – Fast feet!

AJ will have to be nimble and move effortlessly around the ring. Plyometrics can help this, particularly calf conditioning. We would look at targeting plyometrics at different intensities, changing speed, height and complexity of movement.

Click below for part 2 and the Boxing Science conclusion