Anthony Joshua defends his IBF heavyweight belt with the chance to win the vacant WBA Super Heavyweight and IBO heavyweight belt against former forever champ, Wladimir Klitschko, Saturday, April 29th @ Wembley Stadium, Wembley, London. That’s in merry olde England for those that need to know.
This is a huge opportunity for both with each being a magnificent scalp for the other in the legacy of great fights that this promises to be. This also represents a prime 27 year old fighter with an 18-0, 18 KO record against a past prime, 41 year old fighter with a 64-4, 53 KO record coming off a terrible loss when the plagues of his personal life heavily shackled him against his biggest ever, most fight worthy opponent in Tyson Fury. Nobody really knows just how good Joshua may or may not prove to be just as nobody really knows if Wlad is truly washed up as his critics are want to say. Prior to his loss nobody but the loony Uncle Teddy’s of the world would be picking Josh in this fight, but now Josh is the slight favorite going into the fight. That tells me that the gaming pros who make their living having to set the best odds to rake in the greatest number of bets to turn a healthy profit on whomever wins essentially see the fight as even. That the fighter mutual unknowns seems to be lost with regrettable “Ring boxing experts” picking Josh by a 29-1 margin is one of a host of sideshow stories created in the big excitement of the biggest heavyweight fight in many years.
As a point of comparison, 19 year old Mike Tyson was also 18-0, 18 KOs early in his career, but he was still just a developing kid. Josh is much more mature 27 years old and has a rather settled, pacific way about his public profile for a young man, full of the trappings and fabulous purses of an all time great champion, yet still a gangling teen in accumulated pro rounds, only 44 compared to Tyson’s 34 rounds at that same stage. Josh has already defeated better fighters than Tyson though, so perhaps those 44 rounds represent a soon to be great all time prodigy. Thing is, Wlad is going into his 69th fight with all the twists and turns of 358 pro rounds, and in no way looked past his sell date until the Fury fight.
Folks have been asking how long will it be before we have another dominant heavy champ like Wlad. All I can say is just as Joe Louis was a record setting, once in a lifetime heavy making his debut in 1934 some 62 years prior to Wlad making his debut in 1996, so by those numbers it won’t be until 2058 until a fighter of their caliber makes his debut to fill the Wlad gaping gap. Much of Wlad and his brother Vitali’s careers have been spent getting little respect from the public fans and media save for their high Ring and Boxrec ratings, yet here now strides the affable British colossus with enough natural attributes, prime, youth, and unbeatable career momentum to knock Wlad out of boxing and upset cold statistical models.
Some 90,000+ rabid fans will be cramming Wembley Stadium to stress out their facilities to the max in anticipation of a monumental battle, so both have much to be thankful for as the heavy division becomes the most relevant division in boxing for at least this fight in this year.
However, bizarre performance reports out of the Wlad camp would seemingly indicate he is “shot.” I can guarantee he is no where near shot, but in spite of his breezy self confidence going into the fight, I could in no way guarantee the result because both have so many unknowns going into this bout. The bad rumors are likely planted by the betting agencies to spur what is near guaranteed to be monumental money being wagered. The gaming industry has a dirty business model in that regard. Wlad, although quite experienced, has an additional uphill battle with the traditionally dirty BBB of C oversight of judges, referee, and other official selections that have as much influence as the fighters have on the outcome. Such is the current shameful nature of boxing’s dubious official oversight of the sport.
The still young Tyson Fury who is turning 30 this year can be blamed for creating this perfect storm of an all time heavyweight boxing promotion when he mentally unraveled after his grand upset of Wlad in 2015. Now he weighs in as blob like 350+ lbs and has been seeking treatment for cocaine dependence and depression, so he’s out of commission until sometime next year, if ever though he has reported to have, cough-cough, entered training, perhaps for a Kebab eating championship. For now he’s pretty much confined to buckets of kebabs and idiotic twitterings.
Someone had to fill his big shoes, and as it turned the Fates have lined up young Joshua for opportunity of a lifetime. And then they lined up Wlad for the same opportunity. The only two fights that have bitter rivals Showtime and HBO working together were Lennox Lewis vs Mike Tyson and Manny Pacquiao vs Floyd Mayweather Jr, and both of those fights were duds because they happened way past the fighter’s best years. Wlad may be past his best, yet still in tremendous shape, but here is Joshua at his very best and still rising, so I smell knockout by one or the other.
Wlad also has a rare opportunity to beat his 3rd Olympic heavyweight Gold Medalist in Ray Mercer, Alexander Povetkin, and now Josh. Wlad may be the only one to beat two heavy gold medalists as it currently is.
It’s rare to have such a big fight between heavyweights with so many unknown factors going into the fight, and don’t think the fighters don’t know it as well. These are top, highly motivated pros and will be looking to exploit the least little edge, so, Let’s Get Ready to Rumble!