Surely you all knew this was coming right?
The first thing to think about is why Wladimir Klitschko (the more skilled and accomplished but overall not as good one of the famous boxing brothers) has chosen to take this fight. With his status as the biggest name in the heavyweight division for the last 10 years, he could’ve easily had an easier fight to get a world title back or could’ve retired.
Anthony Joshua provides two things for Wlad in his last days as a fighter. 1) A huge final pay day. 2) Respect for taking such a dangerous fight. No one will ever call Wlad a cherry-picker now. However, this isn’t me saying he is coming to lose, just that it’s like a final hurrah for him. But it’s still a factor. Wlad knows this is his final big test. He will feel no shame in going out against Joshua.
Does this mean Wlad will come in all guns blazing and abandon his cautious often boring style? Hell no! He couldn’t if he wanted to. And he probably does want to, but he won’t. The 18 months off will be good for Wlad. He will be in as good shape as ever (*cough* ROIDS *cough*), age – he is 41 – won’t be an issue. This Wlad will be as good as he’s been ever, which to me has never been that good. I feel he’s only reigned because he fought in the poorest era ever for heavyweights, but right now we’re in the best era since the late 90s.
Nevertheless, Wlad is still a legitimate great and a threat. He’s got good footwork, heavy-heavy hands, a world class jab, and a difficult style to beat – jab-jab-grab as David Haye described it. So he definitely can give Joshua some problems. And I think he will.
Even though he has lots of early KOs, Joshua likes to take a bit of time to find his range. It’s just that as soon as he does, the fight ends right away. It will take Joshua a while to find his range against Klitschko because Wlad is deceptively fast – both with his feet and hands. I expect Joshua to eat a few jabs early and for a period look slightly out of his depth. He can’t beat Wlad like Tyson Fury did in 2015, who is a boxer with more guile than both of the two.
So how can Joshua win? By forcing Wlad to hit the panic button, which won’t be too hard to do. As good as Wlad is, why I don’t rate him as highly as others is because under fire he panics. Against Fury he turned his back at least twice, something you won’t even see most amateurs do. Against guys like Alex Povetkin and Haye (his previous toughest opponents) he simply bear-hugged them any time they came close.
Looking at the fact Joshua has come in at his heaviest weight ever (17.12 stone), he is prepared for Klitschko’s style. He is 10lbs heavier than Wlad and will be looking to out-muscle him when Wlad tries to clinch, so he can control the pace of the fight. One thing we will learn is just how strong Joshua is, and if he is stronger than Wlad, it means he is one of the strongest heavyweights for a long, long time.
Speaking about Joshua’s physical ability is what brings us to what will in my opinion win him this fight; his incredible punching power. Combining both speed and brute strength, his punches – with both hands and with any type of punch – come in such explosive fashion that it is near inconceivable to see anyone taking them for any pro-longed period. It must also be noted, Joshua is not just a great, great puncher, he is also absolutely vicious with it. When he has someone hurt, he goes for the kill in ruthless fashion. We’ve seen him hit people when they are down (which is illegal) and even after the bell (against Dillian Whyte). Joshua fights as violently as any heavyweight since Mike Tyson himself.
Wladimir panics under fire because has been knocked out three times in brutal fashion (the last time was in 2004) before he found his winning style under the tutorship of arguably the greatest boxing trainer ever, Emanuel Steward. However, ever since then as previously mentioned, he has been extremely cautious about taking any punches, and when they do come he panics. And he has never fought a puncher like Joshua. Thus, logic states, when Joshua does unleash, Klitschko will simply not be able to handle it. Both mentally and physically.
This is why I feel Joshua will win, as soon as Klitschko feels his power. This could happen at any time during the fight, but will most likely happen around round five.
There are a few things to consider away from this prediction, which seems to be the consensus opinion.
Firstly, how will Joshua do at tracking Klitschko? The 6ft 6in Ukrainian is more mobile than any heavyweight Joshua will have ever come against. Secondly, with this in mind, as Joshua does try to find his range, he may have to eat a few of Klitschko’s best punches; namely the straight right-hand and the lead-left hook. However, we have seen Joshua take some solid punches from big-hitters like Whyte and also Dominic Breazeale, so unless he is hit with the perfect punch, I think Joshua will handle – and he will need to handle – Klitschko’s power. However, do not be too surprised to see Joshua hit hard and even hit the deck.
As for tracking Wlad down, Joshua is just as fast with his hands if not with his feet, and he also throws combinations – three, four, five and even six punches at a time, all of which will be hard to avoid for Wlad, especially as Joshua shows no fear of firing off when under fire (known as punching with someone). Also, although he has a basic style, Joshua is actually a very intelligent boxer. He always stays calm, even when at his most vicious, and he actually reads opponents to set up punches, which is something most Klitschko victims were not savvy enough to do. Finally, size matters. Joshua is also 6ft 6in and has a one-inch reach advantage, and at the highest level, every little bit counts.
For this reason I conclude there is a 65% chance Joshua wins via knockout. I feel there is a 25% chance Joshua is simply unable to track Klitschko well enough to bring the fight to a conclusive outcome, meaning it will be about which style (Joshua’s stalking-bombing or Klitschko’s jabbing-moving) judges favour or is imposed most, and even in this scenario I see Klitschko taking too much pressure to win the fight. Lastly, I only give Wladimir a 10% chance of knocking Joshua (which is silly for a guy with 53 knockouts but I’ll be the first to admit my silliness should it happen).