- Anthony ‘AJ’ Joshua was a gold-medal-winning boxer in the 2012 Olympics, and turned professional in 2013. Since then, he has won every one of his 18 fights, all of them by KO or TKO, and in April 2016 he beat Charles Martin to become the holder of the IBF heavyweight title. He has successfully defended that title twice since – first in June 2016 by beating Dominic Breazeale by TKO in the seventh round, and then in December 2016 by beating Eric Molina by TKO in the third.
- The 27-year-old has fought 44 rounds of professional boxing from 18 fights, which equates to an average of just 2.44 rounds per fight. Whilst that is an incredibly impressive record, his opponent this Saturday is perhaps his most formidable to date, and the Joshua camp has admitted that it accepted this fight partly on the basis of Klitschko’s age, and the possibility that the Ukrainian just might be past his prime.
- Wladimir ‘Dr Steelhammer’ Klitschko is 41-years-old and made his professional debut in 1996. He has fought 68 matches and won 64 of those, 53 by KO or TKO, and has fought in 358 rounds, which gives him an average of 5.26 rounds per fight. His last fight was in November 2015, when he lost his heavyweight titles to Tyson Fury by unanimous decision. That was Klitschko’s first defeat since 2004, and brought his nine-year reign as world champion to an end.
- Klitschko hasn’t been seen in the ring since his defeat by Fury, so he will be coming here after an absence of 18 months, and will no doubt be hungry to regain his world champion status this Saturday night at Joshua’s expense.
This fight looks set to be a stiff test for Anthony Joshua, and it will be the most defining moments of his career, whether he records a remarkable victory or tastes his first experience of defeat. Joshua has youth and a flawless record of wins on his side, but Wladimir Klitschko has decades more experience, and he was by no means disgraced when outpointed by Tyson Fury at the tail-end of 2015.
In our opinion, the winner of this fight will be determined by how aggressive Joshua is from the start. If he comes out of the corner and aims to finish things quickly then things could well go his way, as the bookmakers predict. However, if Klitschko manages to evade any initial Joshua onslaught, or take a more aggressive opening stance of his own, we think that the odds would be in his favour.
If we were to take age out of the equation, we believe that Klitschko would be the most likely winner, so we will say that age is just a number, and side with the Ukrainian to surprise the bookies.
- Sports.net’s Top Tip – Wladimir Klitschko to win – 2/1
*Please note, odds may fluctuate in the lead-up to the fight.