The heavily-touted IBF World heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua (18-0) faces Wladimir Klitschko (64-4) for the IBF, IBO and WBA heavyweight titles this weekend.
If your name is Carl Froch then look away now…a record-breaking crowd of 90,000 will fill the Wembley Stadium this Saturday for what will be the most a historic night of boxing under the famous arch in North London.
It’s the young apprentice versus the old master – Luke Skywalker v Darth Vader.
The Ukrainian lost his titles to Tyson Fury last time out and is aiming to set the record straight by reclaiming his crown at the ripe old age of 41.
The 27-year-old from Watford is looking to prove he is the real deal by defeating a legend that boasts the second longest reign as a heavyweight champion in history at nine years and seven months and 18 defences.
Not only will the win award him the IBO and WBA straps but also the legitimacy that he is a credible world champion with a long reign ahead.
An online poll with over 2,000 voters participating resulted in a landslide 69% predicting an AJ victory, 29% sitting on the fence with sore arses and just 1% favouring Klitschko.
What happens when two mountains collide? Well, BBN asked their panel of experts to try to guess…
Michelle Joy Phelps Behind the Gloves
“It’s experience vs. youth.
Does Anthony Joshua have what it takes to defeat who was the reigning champ for many years before Fury defeated him? Does the defeat and time off play a factor in Klitschko’s performance or does it enhance it because he’s more motivated than ever?
I am split 50/50 because I know Wlad is a tough, tough opponent for AJ but Joshua is also everything he’s billed to be.
Since the first time I met AJ, I knew he would be world champ one day. So I’m genuinely unsure and I guess it’s why I’m more and more nervous and excited as the days pass.”
Tim Rickson TR Sports Agency
“I think the best summary is to say that one is one the way up and other on the way down. Had they met in the middle then it would have been a very different fight.
I saw Wlad give a lot of respect to Joshua when they first sparred back in 2014 and I regarded that as the best and most credible endorsement there could possibly be.
As incredible an athlete as Klitschko is, I do think that age is finally catching up with him. He began to start picking up regular injuries in camps and that was the first sign for me, and his loss to Fury in 2015 further proves that his reign at the top is coming to an end. But, what a reign it has been – second only to Joe Louis!
I have swayed back and forth with my prediction, like many others have, I expect. I initially deemed it too much too soon for Joshua having never faced anyone of Wlad’s quality before, in fact, no one anywhere near to his quality!
I first toyed with Klitschko on points, then I moved over to Joshua on points, but I have finally settled on an AJ stoppage.
I cannot see Wlad getting knocked out but then I’m reminded of the Lamon Brewster fight, which was exactly 12 years ago to the month.
Despite his iron defence, Wlad can be caught and wobbled with a flash punch, Corrie Sanders can also back this fact up.
I think Wlad will be very defensive and disciplined and that AJ won’t be able to penetrate his walls properly or cleanly until a few rounds have passed by.
I’m going with an AJ stoppage past round five.”
Niall Doran Boxing News & Views
“I'm going to be a bit bold with this prediction, but just feel like Joshua will really look to take him out early.
Joshua inside two.”
Lewis Calvert Big Write Hook
“The build up to this fight has seen much talk of Joshua, 28, being cast as the young, hungry lion. So you would have to suppose that the former leader of the pride, Klitschko, 40, is not only an aged lion, but a wounded one after his defeat to Tyson Fury.
Since that loss, Wlad seems more determined and focused than ever, which spells trouble for AJ. This, amongst many other factors, are what makes the fight so captivating.
It really is a "pick 'em" fight and the longer it lasts, the more I favour Klitschko. That is not a slight at Joshua's endurance, as he has more than enough stamina to last 12-rounds physically, but can he stay switched on mentally with an experienced future Hall of Famer going into the championship rounds?
The first half of the fight belongs to Joshua and I could see him getting a knockout in any of the first six but from there on in I think Klitschko will be looking for a late stoppage and with that approach, anything can happen!”
Dan Davies The World Boxing Wall
“Klitschko on points, for me.
Joshua hasn’t fought anyone world level yet and Wlad is at the top of world level but don’t be surprised if he has to get off the canvas to win.”
Anthony Cocks Maxboxing.com
“This fight is as tough to pick as any heavyweight bout in recent memory. Youth versus experience, young bull versus old bull.
The old axiom says that a great fighter always has one last great fight in them, and after the surprising loss to Fury, that's exactly the position Klitschko finds himself in now.
Joshua will have his confidence up and will have his moments early, maybe even rocking the long-time Ukrainian world champ in the first four rounds of the fight. But as the fight progresses, it will be the old bull who starts to shake, rattle and roll his younger opponent.
Look for a mercy stoppage in Klitschko's favour around the 10th.”
Martin Theobald New Age Boxing
“Passing of the torch, changing of the guard. Both would be appropriate, were Tyson Fury’s name not synonymous with ‘that night’ out in Germany. That said, the event and the spectacle have to be admired.
Unarguably, this fight has fallen 18 months too early for Joshua, which means you have to give him credit for accepting it. Has it also fallen 18 months too late for Klitschko though? That is where this fight hinges. Joshua brings nothing to the table that will frighten the Ukrainian; Samuel Peters arguably hit harder than the young Londoner, while David Haye had the more fluid foot movement. It’s whether these attributes in a single package will pose issues for Klitschko.
If Klitschko is able to establish the trademark, ram-rod jab early on in the fight and rediscover the confidence to let his right hand go, it is going to be a long night for AJ.
As old as he may be, he is wily to go with it. Expect him to use that full frame to lean on Joshua, make him force and struggle his way out of the clinches, expending the energy no opponent has made him do before. The refereeing may be pivotal; an early break, and Joshua gets the breather. If the clinch is allowed, it saps the energy.
You can make a very real case for both men winning this fight, which makes it fascinating. If 80% of the Klitschko who dominated the early 2000’s turn up, I’m going with a Wladimir win inside 9.
This is where the corner work of Johnathon Banks is imperative, he needs to find his inner Emanuel Steward and put the old coaches’ psychology and plans into practice.
If the gun-shy, laborious version that turned out against Bryant Jennings and Tyson Fury turns up, then Joshua could cement himself as a superstar.”
Chris Maylett BritishBoxers.co.uk
“When Olympic Gold medallist Anthony Joshua made his pro debut in October 2013, fellow Olympic champion Wladimir Klitschko had already been a professional for 17 years, his experience is obviously his main attribute going into the fight.
But listening to the 41-year-old in the build-up to the fight, it appears Klitschko doesn’t just have experience on his side, he still has burning ambition, together with the honed style that has stood him in good stead for the large majority of his career as champion, against the conventional heavyweights who tried to dethrone him over a 15-year period as world champion.
The heavyweight who did take his titles eventually, was the far from conventional Tyson Fury, someone he couldn’t impose his tried and tested blueprint on and reversed the roles.
But if Klitschko can get into his old routine and still has the knack of drowning out a fight, dominating from the outside with his jab and then smothering his opponent’s attacks inside, taking away their balance and power, then AJ could be in for a long, frustrating night.
This is Joshua’s first real test in the pros on the very biggest stage and let’s hope from a British Boxing perspective, he can rise to the occasion and rubber stamp his credentials as one of the biggest hitting, exciting heavyweight sensations, since Mike Tyson exploded on the scene in the 1980’s.
It feels like the heavyweight division is ready for a big shift and Joshua winning and ending the old master’s career would be just that, is meant it to be? All eras end and new ones begin, the question is how much has Klitschko got left and just how good can Joshua be and become?
Can Klitschko stand up to AJ’s raw, unrelenting power and keep him off for 12-rounds? Can Joshua negate Klitschko’s jab and ring savvy to get inside and land cleanly? Will youth overcome experience? The fight will answer all the questions on Saturday night, we can’t wait.
Prediction? Joshua late stoppage/points or Klitschko on points.”
Karl Freitag Fightnews.com
“41-year-old Klitschko looked like he was slipping against Bryant Jennings. He looked downright old in a terrible performance against Tyson Fury. That was 17 months ago. Not even Wladimir Klitschko beats Father Time.
We think Anthony Joshua goes to 19-0, 19 KOs with a big KO win.”
Ian Alduos BoxingNews24.com
“There’s certainly still life in the big Ukrainian and I don't think he’d have taken this fight if he didn't believe he could win.
After his wayward display against Tyson Fury, people seem to have forgotten all the brutal knockouts that came before, not to mention the famous Klitschko jab.
I see him giving Joshua problems early on, but then I expect Joshua’s stunning power to ultimately be the difference and settle the fight in his favour.”
Sam Constantinou-Coulter Sam’s Boxing Haven
“Anthony Joshua versus Wladimir Klitschko is a truly intriguing matchup of the young, hungry rising star against the old, wily experience of a former champion.
Joshua has undeniable talent with fearsome knockout power, good speed and an excellent jab that has seen all 18 of his opponents as professional dispatched of in emphatic manner.
Klitschko is a safety first fighter who dominated the heavyweight scene for over a decade with a ramrod jab keeping his opponents at range.
So many are predicting an easy win for Joshua and forgetting that Klitschko is a man who defended his world titles for years on end.
Klitschko is a clever fighter who will look to frustrate Joshua and take the fight into the championship rounds. He will look to nullify the Brit’s offensive work and slowly break him down.
Joshua, in contrast, will go out looking to land his jab as the set-up to land his powerful right hand. He will be aiming to knock Klitschko out and send a major message throughout the world of boxing.
In terms of a prediction I have to back Joshua by knockout but I do not expect it to be the easy task that so many are suggesting it to be.”
Rob Day Ringnews24
"Like Rocky Marciano vs Joe Louis and Mike Tyson vs Larry Holmes - boxing history shows us that Father Time catches up with Greats and the torch is passed on to the new generation.
The question on Saturday, will be, is it that time? I believe it is. Anthony Joshua has been primed and ready for this moment, while the ageing Wladimir Klitschko is battling to recapture past glory.
I expect a cagey opening and then Joshua to start catching the Ukrainian. I don't see Wladimir handling the power. The strength of Joshua should combat the holding and once Wladimir can't keep the Brit at bay - it will be all over."
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