Home World Sporting Events Boxing Klitschko to put AJ dominance to the test
Klitschko to put AJ dominance to the test

Klitschko to put AJ dominance to the test

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Wladimir Klitschko will look to prove an old dog can learn new tricks when he faces the rising star of the heavyweight division, Anthony Joshua, at a sold-out Wembley Stadium.

Saturday will be arguably the biggest night in British boxing history, with a record attendance of 90,000 expected to watch Joshua’s coronation as the king of the heavyweight division.

The 27-year-old has enjoyed a rapid rise through the professional ranks since securing gold at the 2012 Olympics, winning all 18 of his contests via knockout.

Given the lack of depth in the heavyweight division, it is fair to say Joshua has yet to have a decent test on his way to capturing the IBF title, destroying the belt’s previous incumbent, Charles Martin, inside two rounds.

The Watford native has defended his title twice since then, seeing off the durable Dominic Breazeale in seven rounds before blasting his way past Eric Molina last December.

AJ’s biggest tests came before he was crowned world champion when he fought domestic rival Dillian Whyte in a slugfest, with the ‘Body Snatcher’ rocking his more illustrious opponent before eventually falling in the seventh.

Whyte needed to have a rock-solid chin to hang with Joshua, whose combination of speed and power has proven deadly up to this point in his career.

The question now is whether Klitschko can find another way to stop Joshua that doesn’t involve him taking substantial punishment.

The Ukrainian is looking to prove he is still the top man in the heavyweight division, having been surprisingly knocked off his perch by Tyson Fury in November 2015.

Klitschko was way off his game against Fury and we should expect a more focused and aggressive performance on Saturday night.

That loss was last time Dr Steelhammer stepped into the ring and 17 months of inactivity at this stage of his career could prove fatal ahead of his comeback.

Joshua’s camp believes time has caught up with the 41-year-old but they are still wary of the experienced Klitschko, who has had 68 fights, emerging victorious on 64 occasions, 53 coming via stoppage.

It is the classic tale of the young buck trying to prove himself by taking down the leader of the pack and trying to pick a winner might be tougher than many are predicting.

Joshua is the 1/3 favourite to make it 19 wins in a row while Klitschko is the 41/20 underdog, an unusual position for the former champion.

The tale of the tape does not give much away, with both men measuring in at 6ft 6in, while Joshua has a tiny one-inch advantage in terms of reach.

Both men are expected to weigh in at similar weights as well, somewhere between 244-249lbs, although Klitschko might surprise given speed has been an issue in recent fights.

Klitschko certainly has plenty of miles on the clock as he prepares for a record 28th title fight and that could be the telling factor should the bout make it into the latter stages, with Joshua having never been beyond the seventh so far.

For the fight to go beyond 8.5 rounds is 4/5 and given the quality of both fighters that is a reasonable expectation.

It is unlikely to be a ‘wham bam thank you ma’am’ kind of night, like Joshua fans have become use to, as Klitschko is too smart, too well-drilled to let himself get blown away by the young upstart, so Joshua will need to be patient.

There are so many questions to be answered on Saturday night and while my heart tells me Joshua can do it, this boxing fan has seen too many dominant Klitschko displays to think it will be AJ’s coronation.

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Warren Ashurst Warren has been a sports journalist for over 25 years, both written and broadcast. Having worked as a radio commentator, he has a wealth of experience of seeing top-level sport first hand and specialises in football, golf and cricket.