Saturday sees heavyweight boxing return to the big time in the U.K., as former undisputed champion Wladimir Klitschko travels to take on local favourite Anthony Joshua.
This is the sort of heavyweight clash boxing fans have been calling out for, and puts the WBC, IBF and IBO belts up for grabs.
In many ways this bout represents boxing’s past taking on its likely future.
In the past corner stands Klitschko. Between April 2004 and November 2015 the Ukrainian reigned supreme, unifying the various heavyweight titles and establishing himself as the division’s dominant force. A shock defeat to British boxer Tyson Fury ended all that, and the 41 year old has been dormant since.
By contrast, Joshua turned professional after winning Olympic gold in the 2012 London games. Since then the 27 year old has racked up a 18-0 record, including winning the IBF title, and has yet to be past the seventh round.
So, who wins? Klitschko in his pomp used a ramrod jab to keep opponents at bay and his size and strength to spoil the fight if smaller challengers got inside. However, in Joshua he faces a man with a longer reach, sufficient bulk as to not be bullied and a real punch. It’s difficult to see how Klitschko could have got better during his 18 month absence from the ring, so everything points to a Joshua win.
That said, it’s important to stress that this opponent represents a significant jump in class and experience compared with anything Joshua has faced before.
The possibility of an early end to any fight involving Joshua exists, but we expect Klitschko’s experience to prolong the bout until its second half before youth prevails.
Recommendation: Joshua to win in rounds 7-12 at 5/2, Paddy Power
Please subscribe for notification of up-to-date tips and news, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.