The passing of the torch in the heavyweight division, brings two fights to mind.
A young Larry Holmes destroying an aged Muhammed Ali.
And that same Larry Holmes, being systemically taken apart and savagely beaten by the young warrior Mike Tyson.
Joshua vs. Klitschko, eerily, doesn’t seem out of place amongst this list.
The fight between youth and experience is age-old, no pun intended. Yet it always captures the imagination, and in boxing we’ve seen results go either way over the years. Canelo’s youth and energy helped him when he beat the experienced future hall of famer Miguel Cotto, 10 years his senior. However, that same energy, youth and naivety, if you will, was Canelo’s downfall against Floyd Mayweather, some 14 years his senior. In both fights, Canelo went in as an established world level fighter against. In both cases fighters who in age were both viewed to be at the twilight stage of their careers. This strikes a similar chord with the biggest fight this year, and arguably the biggest fight British soil has ever seen - especially if the numbers are anything to go by.
Joshua Vs Klitschko
Let’s look at the numbers;
- Over 90,000 tickets sold, a British record joint with Len Harvey and Jock McAvoy dating back to 1939.
- Last 10,000 sold in under 25 minutes.
- 82 wins between the two fighters.
- 402 rounds between the two fighters.
- Share 71 Knockout victories.
- Expected to break the 1.2m buys record set by Hatton vs. Mayweather.
- And of course, perhaps the two biggest numbers to consider, 27 and 41. The respective fighter’s ages’.
Klitschko, at 39 showed signs of his age in his fight with Tyson fury back in November 2015. Regularly beaten to the punch and often looking bewildered as the younger, fitter man danced around him in the squared circle. He’ll be 41 when he enters the ring against Joshua, having not boxed since his loss to Fury. If he has miraculously managed to do what no other has before him, and turn back the body clock, how will he plan to counter-act the inevitable ring-rust?
Firstly, let’s look at how he has approached training this time around. Usually, Wladimir locks himself away at the luxurious Stanglwirt Spa in Austria conveniently located close to the German border - his preferred destination for fights. However, this time around he’s travelled back to his roots - the Ukraine. He is training in Kiev, close to the watchful eye of this elder brother Vitali, who now is Mayor Kiev. He’s back as the underdog in this fight. Desperately to fight old-age and perhaps he feels going back to where he started, the battle-hardened city of Kiev, might give him some extra fire come fight night. Not to mention, the added bonus of having his older brother, a three time heavyweight champion of the world to assist with training. Sky’s Johnny Nelson recently went out to see him, and reported how videos of Joshua are regularly playing in the background as Wladimir trains and spars, almost urging him on, showing him the mountain he has to climb on April 29th.
The 16 months that Klitschko has not boxed in also have to be considered. However you could argue that he’s regularly been training, and had 2 potential fights with Fury called off in this time; both due to Fury. There will be ring-rust when he steps in, however; he has kept active in his time off.
Joshua, on the other hand, under the stewardship of Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom stable, has been regularly fighting, and is the epitome of fighting fit. Fighting 4 times since Klitschko’s last outing, he shared some numbers of his own in the aftermath of the Molina fight;
- 98 days in camp
- 392 Organic Meals
- 28 physio sessions
- 210 Protein Shakes
- 420 Litres of water
- 350km of interval training
- 42 strength training sessions
- 950 needles in his body (acupuncture)
- 660 rounds of sparring
- 210 miles running
Joshua came into the fight, the strongest he’s been. And if the videos of him working in the sand with Sunny Edwards on the boxrawTV Snapchat are anything to go by, he’s going to be coming in even stronger.
‘The error of youth is to believe that intelligence is a substitute for experience.’ Lyman Bryson
For all of Joshua’s youthful vibrance, one has to wonder if the experience of Klitschko will play a huge part in this fight. Has Klitschko timed the fight perfectly? Is Joshua still too young and inexperienced to beat such a veteran of the sport with the ring craft to rival anyone boxing today?
Will we see something similar to the aforementioned passing’s of the torch? Or, will there be a heavyweight upset on the cards like we saw with the much older Ali’s upset of the much younger George Foreman in the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’.
It seems all too fitting to end this with;
time will tell…