The Big Question: Joshua vs Klitschko - who wins?

Boxing Monthly
26/04/2017 6:17am

Anthony Joshua faces Wladimir Klitschko on Saturday night in a highly anticipated heavyweight showdown at Wembley stadium with 90,000 spectators expected to be in attendance. We canvassed opinion among the Boxing Monthly online team about which man will prevail ... with one man winning the vote on a split decision...

I am picking Joshua. On the face of it, it looks like a 50/50 fight. I do think Wlad will be a different animal to the one who appeared against Fury, as this is a 'last chance' so to speak. He will probably fight with more urgency than usual, although that's something I can't recall him doing very often against proven punchers. As such, I can see Klitschko getting stopped after going out on his shield.

Ultimately I also don't think Matchroom and the Joshua 'brand' would take this fight if they weren't 100 per cent convinced they would win. In boxing nothing is certain but I feel like the Joshua camp have seen enough of Wlad, perhaps behind closed doors, to decide it's the right time to take this fight. - James Oddy

There are so many variables in this fight, but you'd have to say the momentum is with Joshua.

Wlad is 41 years old, financially secure, won't have been in the ring for 18 months, and hasn't looked good since 2014 when he showed real spite and flattened Kubrat Pulev.

Joshua doesn't have many rounds under his belt, and rope-a-dope may be an option for Klitschko to consider, but AJ seems to love a punching bag, so I think Wlad knows he will need to fire back early.

It's safe on the fence, so I'll go as far as saying 6.5 rounds is my personal over/under in this fight. Joshua to win quickly, or Wlad to get Joshua's respect, take the fight into the second half, and test the potentially questionable Joshua chin.

(For what it's worth, 'Dr. Steelhammer' beats 'AJ' in the nickname stakes.) - Martin Chesnutt

Let's forget my personal opinion for a minute. In true (fantasy) courtroom fashion, I'm now Wlad's self appointed lawyer and here's my defence for him...

Yes, he's 41, but he wouldn't have taken this fight believing he's going to lose. Is he in good shape? Does he still possess power? Is he more experienced? Is AJ a straight line fighter with very little lateral movement? Has he been in with a technician like Wlad before? With the exception of the last question, the answers, I believe, are 'yes'...

In the same way Max Schmeling saw 'something' before fighting Joe Louis the first time - some chink in the armour - Wlad has also seen an obvious window of opportunity. A Klitschko win comes either on points or stoppage between rounds five and eight... - Paul Zanon

No reflection on Klitschko, but this has all the markings of a fight which signals 'the changing of the guard' (a la Holmes taking over from Ali, or later Tyson taking over from Holmes).

It took us all a long time to look upon Wlad and his reign kindly, but he has been a great champion, a role model and a true gentleman. I wonder if the sad passing of Emmanuel Steward was the catalyst for Wlad's decline, as when he came up against Fury he looked surprisingly lost. He's now been out for a year and a half and is facing a dangerously-hard puncher who is growing in confidence with each fight and entering his prime.

I respect Wlad for taking this fight and I hope he can last the distance - I wouldn't be shocked if he had one amazing performance left in him, but somehow I just don't quite see it. Joshua may shock us all and score an early knockout, but I think it's more likely that he endures a tough fight which sees him learn more than any other fight of his career, with it finishing in AJ's favour in the last quarter of the fight. - Colin Harris

The conventional wisdom is that youth will be served 29 April at Wembley, but there are many X-factors to consider…

AJ has boxed 44 rounds so far as a pro; Dr. Steelhammer has more than eight times that amount in a career that spans over 20 years. Klitschko has more title defenses than Joshua does total bouts! And while AJ has never seen the eighth round, Wlad has 18 times.

Yet wear and tear also come with all of that experience, which brings us to inactivity. Klitschko hasn’t fought since his loss to Tyson Fury in November 2015, whereas Joshua has fought four times since then. Did the layoff help the older fighter rest, or have his reflexes continued to fade?

Former light heavyweight champ Bernard Hopkins lost to Sergey Kovalev in 2014, then returned from a two-year layoff last December to be knocked out of the ring by his much younger opponent, Joe Smith Jr. Could we see a replay of this scenario in London?

It all comes down to who establishes distance via the jab. If Klitschko allows Joshua to set the pace early on, the fight won’t last the distance. However if the Ukrainian survives the early onslaught and keeps AJ at the end of his jab, the youngster may begin to question himself. If this happens, the veteran Klitschko coasts down the stretch to a decision win. We should know how this fight is going to play out within the first two rounds. - Michael Montero

In the build-up to this fight there has been a lot of talk of greatness and legacy. With Anthony Joshua trying to build a legacy and Klitschko trying to cement his own.

I'm not sure this fight does much for either legacy though - if Joshua wins he beat a 41-year-old, once great champion coming off a loss and inactivity and if Wlad wins, skeptics would say he beat an untested, unproven novice.

Even though I don't think this is an Ali vs Foreman in terms of stature, this fight still in my opinion crowns the #1 heavyweight in the world today (Tyson Fury is a non factor at this time). For Joshua, the contest also provides a test he hasn't faced since his amateur days, if ever.

While his record isn't stacked with Hall of Fame fights, Wlad has faced a variety of styles in his career; punchers (Haye, Peter), awkward boxers (Byrd, Jennings), short guys (Mormeck, Chambers), tall guys (Wach, Thompson). There isn't much he hasn't seen, whereas with Joshua everyone bar Dillian Whyte had come in expecting to lose and has fallen over as quickly as they entered the ring. While that's not Joshua's fault, I'm not sure his career thus far has prepared him for what he faces on Saturday.

Joshua has the ability and, more importantly, the power to stop Wlad in the early rounds. I wouldn't be stunned if this happened but for a while now I've had a feeling about Wlad and the pick is for the once great champion to regain his title via unanimous decision in an interesting but uneventful fight. Klitschko UD 12 - Callum Rudge

Unfortunately, at 41, I think Klitschko is a busted flush. Aside from Foreman's KO of Moorer, when has a young fighter in their prime been halted by a former great heavyweight in their forties? AJ is still largely untested but ring history, as well as rust and inactivity, will do for Wlad, as will Joshua's power. As Tyson Fury showed, Klitschko prefers to fight smaller foes, and I feel AJ's size may be too much for a man whose reflexes and stamina, the evidence suggests, must surely be past their peak. The fight will begin in a cagey fashion, with Joshua gradually assuming control before the Ukrainian is stopped in the later rounds.

Final count: Joshua 4 Klitschko 3