By Sam Constantinou Coulter
December 29, 2016 – With excitement building quickly for the heavyweight showdown between rising sensation Anthony Joshua and the man who dominated the division for so long in Wladimir Klitschko it is time to take an early look at how the pair match up.
Aged 27, standing at six foot, seven inches tall, Anthony Joshua has quickly become the biggest name in British boxing despite only being a professional for 3 years. Having won Olympic Gold at the London Olympics in 2012 anticipation was high when he turned professional with many stating it would be a mere matter of time before he became world champion.
Such a prediction proved correct with Joshua winning the IBF world title in his 16th professional contest. He blew away the then champion Charles Martin without having to even really try. His sharpness and power proved far too much for the American who was to be stopped in just the second round.
Joshua has won all 18 of his professional fights by knockout with Dillian Whyte and Dominic Breazeale being able to take him past six rounds. He has shown explosive power, good hand speed and a solid jab that has largely seen him destroy opponents whilst keeping himself out of punching range.
With a ripped physique and humble personality combined with in-the-ring destruction, Joshua has built a huge fanbase for himself that sees his shows sell out in a matter of minutes. He attracts the highly lucrative casual boxing fan and is well on his way to becoming a very rich young man.
Despite all the glitz and glamour that his money and fame could bring Joshua is a dedicated, consummate professional who truly lives the life of an elite level boxer. He keeps himself in fantastic shape all year round and is determined to leave a lasting legacy on the sport.
For Joshua’s name to be left engrained in the sport in years to come he will have to defeat the world best fighters starting with Wladimir Klitschko whom he is due to face at Wembley Stadium on April 29th.
Aged 40 (41 by the time the fight comes around) Wladimir Klitschko held one of the most dominant grips of the heavyweight division ever seen. For over a decade Klitschko was undefeated whilst rattling off successful title defences against the likes of David Haye, Alexander Povetkin, Kubrat Pulev and Samuel Peter.
Klitschko alongside trainer Emanuel Steward had developed a safety first style that saw his chin protected and his jab methodically break down opponents. He would grab hold of opponents up close and look to set up his big right hand from a distance, Whilst his style was not the most spectacular to watch he certainly knew how to neutralise a fighters offensive work and win.
Standing at six foot, six inches tall Klitschko has been used to controlling smaller men in the ring and doing so with relative ease. When he has been faced with a taller fighter he hasn’t always appeared as dominant.
After years of stagnation in the heavyweight division under the rule of Klitschko, Tyson Fury breathed life into the weight class in 2015 by proving all of the doubters wrong and defeating Klitschko.
He made Klitschko look slow, old and afraid to throw shots. He confused and the champion and refused to allow him to settle into his usual rhythm and style. Klitschko was awful on the night and many speculated that we would in fact never see him in the ring again.
Klitschko himself has shown a real desire to set the record straight and become a three-time world champion but has not fought since the loss due to injury troubles with Fury, Fury being declared medically unfit due to depression and then a calf injury ending any possibility of facing Joshua this year.
Klitschko will be desperate to prove himself again and knows that another defeat will seriously damage his legacy. In order to become champion again, he will have to show far more than he did against Fury which could well play into Joshua’s hands.
In terms of strategy, it seems obvious that Klitschko will look to establish his jab and keep Joshua at range. He will grab hold of Joshua when he gets up close and generally look to spoil Joshua’s offensive work.
It seems highly unlikely that Klitschko will look to engage Joshua is an offensive battle as he is the slower, older fighter who has been knocked out previously in his career. Klitschko is a safety first fighter and to expect anything else but a cagey style is to show a complete lack of understanding of Klitschko.
Joshua will look to come forward and use the jab to set up his big shots. He is the more athletic, explosive fighter and he will look to force Klitschko into an uncomfortable position.
This has the makings of an intriguing nights boxing with so many questions to be answered. Joshua is regarded by many a the favourite but to write off the chances of Klitschko is naive. He dominated the division for so long for a reason but it does appear that father time is catching up with him.
In terms of an early fight prediction, I have to back Joshua to win by knockout. I just can’t see Klitschko having enough in the tank to hold off the young lion. Whilst he may initially frustrate Joshua it is a matter of time before Joshua lands cleanly on Klitschko and when Joshua has a man hurt he finishes the job.
2017 looks like an exciting year for the heavyweight division with Joshua versus Klitschko, Deontay Wilder returning from injury, Joseph Parker as the new WBO champion and Tyson Fury’ return to the sport being mooted.
It is fantastic to see what should be the glory division of the sport back creating headlines again and long may it remain so