Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko came face-to-face on Thursday at the sprawling Sky Headquarters in London as the two 6-foot-6 giants participated in a final press conference for Saturday’s blockbuster heavyweight world championship event.
SHOWTIME will televise the fight LIVE at 4:15 p.m. ET/1:15 p.m. PT from sold-out Wembley Stadium where a record-setting 90,000 fans are expected to be in attendance.
The 27-year-old Joshua (18-0, 18 KOs), who won the IBF belt in just his 16th professional fight, faces his toughest challenge yet in Klitschko but has “prepared since day one for this” and sees the future Hall of Famer as “just another stepping stone towards greatness.”
The 41-year-old Klitschko (64-4, 54 KOs), who has competed in 28 world title fights and is the second longest reigning world champion in history, is “obsessed” with winning back two belts he held during his 11-year reign as heavyweight champion.
Joshua and Klitschko will unify the heavyweight division as they meet for Joshua’s IBF World Championship and the vacant WBA World Championship. The event from Britain’s national stadium will be televised in over 150 countries worldwide.
The ring walks are set for 4:35 p.m. ET/1:35 p.m. PT with the first bell scheduled for 5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT. SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING® pre-fight coverage begins live on SHOWTIME at 4:15 p.m. ET/1:15 p.m. PT with all the grand pre-fight pageantry from London.
Here’s what the fighters had to say on Thursday.
“Even though this is such a great event, I always try to strip it down to what it really is and just focus that it’s just me and this man coming to blows and the best man will win. I’m not only prepared physically but mentally as well for any battle.
“April 29 is just another stepping stone towards greatness.
“Any fight is the right fight. I’ve never shied away from any fight, any opponent. I started boxing in 2008; in 2009, ’10, ‘11 I was in the World Championships, and in 2012 I was representing Great Britain competing to be the best in the world in the Olympics. It doesn’t matter who I fight. I just enjoy what I do and I just embrace every opportunity.
“I don’t underestimate any opponent. Through my mistakes I have learned and made myself right.”
“I win. It’s not complicated. Let’s not overthink it. This isn’t rocket science. This is just a fight. Let’s strip it right back to what it is – a young lion, ferocious, hungry, very determined. I left no stone unturned in training camp. We do talk about experience, but even when I was fighting guys with lesser experience I was preparing for this. I’ve prepared since day one for this.
“Carrying the belt hasn’t changed me as a person. I just want to represent myself the best way because I know behind me are a million people that walk the same path as me and come from the same background. I think I’m a representation of these people.
“This is another stop. You can’t sit down and enjoy the fruits of your labor. As you sit down on your throne there is always someone knocking on your door to take you down. For me, it’s just another stepping stone.”
On potentially celebrating after a win:
“You can’t deny it. This is epic. As much as I’m calm, when I look around and see how pumped people are for this fight it gives me energy, it gives me life. So it would be hard for me to hold myself together after such an amazing event.”
On this being a pivotal moment for the sport of boxing:
“Absolutely, this is 110 percent a pivotal moment for boxing.”
“Can you imagine my next opponent is going to fight a guy whose age is exactly the number of how long he has been in boxing – 27 years? Can you imagine that? It’s a pretty amazing task. Is it a degradation that I’m actually a challenger and underdog in this fight after 27 years in the sport? I don’t think so. I think it’s great.
“I’m the challenger again. I feel young, hungry, humble and totally obsessed with my goal to raise my hands again.
“I’m so obsessed with winning. I realized that life is a circle, and I see myself in AJ. I do believe I know how he thinks, how he goes, and how the actual fight is going to be.
“The belts are very important. I’ve been attached to these belts for a very long. I had those belts in my past fight, and I’m fighting for these belts in this fight. The only difference is in my last fight they went to the opposite corner. So my goal and obsession is for those belts to land in my corner, in my hands.
“Obsession is love in extreme shape. I’m in love with my goal.
“Defeat? I’ve been there, I’ve done that. I got up, shook it off and came back stronger. Just a little help (for Joshua) – there’s nothing scary about it.”