One of the most eagerly awaited fights of the year is just a matter of weeks away and boxing fans around the world are braced for what could be a defining heavyweight clash between two of the division's best.
Anthony Joshua is preparing to put his IBF title on the line when he steps into the ring at Wembley on April 29 against Wladimir Klitschko, with the vacant WBA (Super) and IBO world titles also set to be contended. With WBC champion Deontay Wilder still fighting opponents below his level and Tyson Fury still sidelined, when Joshua and Klitschko meet it will be to decide who the true king of the heavyweight division is.
The upcoming fight, which was announced December 2016, has been billed as boxing's biggest since Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao finally met in May of 2015 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, is expected to be attended by 90,000 people. That's significantly more than the 80,000 that watched the Carl Froch vs. George Groves rematch at Wembley in May 2014. It's no surprise, therefore, that both fighters have been deep in training camp for months now, working away with their trainers trying to come up with a plan to secure the victory and the unofficial title as the division's dominant champion.
For two of the most intimidating fighters in boxing, at least physically, this match-up will see two outstanding athletes do battle in a bout that could end up going the full 12 rounds. So, let's take a closer look at these two heavyweights' physical attributes and training camps, as well as trying to predict who might have the edge.
Tale of the Tape
Physically, there is very little difference between Joshua and Klitschko. Both six-and-a-half feet tall, there could be as little as ten pounds in weight between the two when they step in the ring on April 29. While Joshua has been weighing in at between 230-240lbs, Klitschko tipped the scales at 245lbs for his most recent bout – a points decision loss to Tyson Fury over a year ago. While the weight of each fighter might not end up being that pivotal, the reach of both could well be. With a reach of 82 inches to Klitschko's 81, Joshua will have a minor advantage there, which may restrict the Ukrainian's attempts to keep his opponent at distance – something he has done throughout his career.
Training & Preparation
While Klitschko has been locked away in his lavish and personalised training camp in the Austrian Alps, working with his army of sparring partners, Joshua has split his time between London and Sheffield, where he still trains at the English Institute of Sport. Joining Klitschko in Austria has been his head trainer Johnathon Banks, as well as the likes of Gerald Washington and Malik Scott – two heavyweight contenders that have been sparring with the former champion. Joshua has linked back up with Carl Froch's former trainer Rob McCracken, who was also a one-time Team GB boxing boss. While Joshua hasn't had the same high profile sparring partners as Klitschko, the current IBF champion certainly looks to be in excellent shape as we edge closer to the fight.
Power & Explosiveness
Unsurprisingly, this is a fight where power will play a massive role. When you look at the diet of Anthony Joshua, revealed by Joshua's nutritionist in a study by Betway Sports, it's no surprise the Olympic gold medalist packs the sort of power he does, knocking out all 18 of his professional opponents. Consuming up to 5,000 calories a day during training camp, including a lunch of two salmon fillets, two jacket potatoes and salad, this only helps to fuel Joshua and his remarkable fight-ending power. But while the Englishman, who also boasts the likes of Lucozade and EQ Nutrition as sponsors, has put the boxing world on notice due to his 100% knockout rate, Joshua shouldn't be underestimating the power carried by Klitschko. With 53 knockouts in his 64 professional outings, a knockout ratio of 78%, the former champion is still more than capable of ending the night early with one of his thunderous right hands.
Big Fight Prediction
While Klitschko possesses a huge amount of experience to go with his clear talent, it may be that Joshua's youth, not to mention knockout power, could be the difference in this fascinating contest.