WLADMIR KLITSCHKO has warned Anthony Joshua not to repeat the mistake of allowing his focus from Saturday’s fight to be affected as it was by Tyson Fury.
Joshua defends his IBF title and hopes to win the WBA belt once held by Fury in what could be the definitive fight of his career against Klitschko at Wembley Stadium.
A crowd of 90,000, a post-war record for a fight in the UK, is to attend what is by some distance the biggest and most difficult match-up of his career, and Joshua perhaps betrayed some pressure when reacting as he did to his British rival.
Responding to Fury labelling him a “Poor man’s Frank Bruno”, Joshua said “Shut up and give me a date when you’ll be back (in the ring).”
The contrast from his respectful exchanges with Klitschko was significant, and the Ukrainian said: “Joshua is preparing for the 29th April so he is better to keep his focus on the 29th and not react to anything else.
“It looks like ‘AJ’ knows what he’s doing and as I said, he is very ambitious; let him react to whatever dogs are barking around. I am more focused on myself and my ego; I don’t care about Joshua and Fury or whatever dog fight he got into.”
The experienced Klitschko is considered the underdog for Saturday’s fight and, aged 41 and after 17 months of inactivity, he could struggle to recover should he suffer a second consecutive defeat.
He last lost in November 2015 when unexpectedly being outboxed by Fury, but despite his age and showing signs of decline insists he hopes to fight on for at least two more years.
He has so far made 18 successful world-heavyweight title defences, seven shy of the record set by the great Joe Louis, and he said: “Hopefully I have a couple of years left in me. I was always saying health and motivation is very important.
“If one of those things is missing then it doesn’t make sense to continue. In regards to pressure, it’s just enjoyable. Anthony Joshua is a great fighter, I’m taking the best out there to be the best.
“The build-up to the fight is different to anything else I have had. I love the fact that the fighters show respect to each other and the fans love it. The excitement of the fans is great.
“(Mine and Joshua’s mutual respect) is something that is great for the sport of boxing, especially in the crazy world that we are living in, especially in the violent world of boxing: having a peaceful build-up.
“When you see people are getting glass bottles on their heads, throwing tables, cursing, being on the stage saying stupid things, yes it (damages the sport).
“It doesn’t do anything good for the people that did it and it doesn’t do any good for the sport. Absolutely.”