A record-breaking 90,000 fans will cram into Wembley Stadium this weekend to witness an historic night of boxing under the famous arch.
There’s no point in going over the usual superlatives to attempt to describe the magnitude of this fight because that figure alone should do the trick.
First let’s explore form by looking at the pair’s last five fights in the square ring.
Anthony Joshua (18-0 18KO’s)
Eric Molina – If he hadn’t been the holder of the IBF Inter-Continental belt then I would have seriously questioned his credentials for earning the shot at Joshua’s IBF crown. Losses to Deontay Wilder and Chris Arreola seemed to be his career highlights until beating Tomasz Adamek for that Inter-Continental strap.
However, he had absolutely nothing to offer in this fight, spending the entire time with his back to the ropes, somehow surviving to the third round.
Dominic Breazeale – Despite being written off by everyone pre-fight, and rightly so because he was an incredibly poor opponent to be matched with, the college quarterback did very well, considering.
He was durable and tough, and managed to reach round-seven, so kudos to him and to Eddie Hearn for choosing a decent opponent for AJ’s first world title defence.
Charles Martin – I hate to be negative towards any boxers but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a worse heavyweight world champion before!
He won the world title by default so was never a credible world titleholder anyway.
Dillian Whyte – The current British champion and that is his present level. I can envisage him going on to European level and possibly challenging for world titles but I wouldn’t go as far to say that he will become a world champion.
What I’m trying to say is that he is a solid domestic-level fighter and maybe more, only time can tell, but certainly not a world class talent.
Gary Cornish (21-0) – The Highlander may have an impressive record but he has fought no one. Of his 25 professional contests, he has only come up against six winning records.
He is the current IBO Inter-Continental heavyweight champion which he won via fourth-round stoppage over Zoltan Csala in May 2015, a man that I saw destroyed by Nick Webb in just 79 seconds with one solid uppercut.
Wladimir Klitschko (64-4)
Tyson Fury (24-0) – Fury was the unexpected hero to finally topple the 10-year champion’s tilt at the top.
There’s no shame in this defeat for Wlad because Fury also beats AJ and anyone else out there in the heavyweight division right now, in my very own and unbiased opinion.
Bryant Jennings (19-0) – Jab, jab, one-two, good defence, clever feet…it was a typical Dr. Steelhammer performance that saw him cruise to a comfortable points win against a predictable, uninspiring opponent.
Kubrat Pulev (21-0) – That left hook leading punch that knocked Pulev down in the opener was simply sublime. He then did it again with 30 seconds left on the clock.
Somehow, the Bulgarian was still there in the fifth round, rallying back bravely, until another lead left hook finished him off completely.
Alex Leapai (30-4-2) – The Lionheart from Samoa only ever managed to win Asian, Oriental and Pacific titles meaning that he was completely overmatched in this fight with Wlad.
As such, he was dominated from the off and offered nothing. In the first minute, he was knocked down by a jab – that’s the calibre of opponent he was.
Alexander Povetkin (24-0) – Despite cruising to a comfortable points win, it was a charmless and less than emphatic performance from Wlad, who jabbed, one-two’d, clinched, leaned, and shoved his way to winning that night in Russia two years ago.
However, Povetkin is a former WBA World champion that has beaten some of the best so it was a significant win for Wlad.
Form Ring craft
Possible Outcomes of the Fight:
AJ Win: AJ’s right hand has the best chance of winning this fight should he land it cleanly. I doubt he will land it early on although I expect him to start explosively in this fight.
Wlad has been caught and seriously wobbled with a single punch more than once. Corrie Sanders, Lamon Brewster and Mariusz Wach have all broken through his defense and sent him reeling. I will, of course, recognise the glaring fact that Sanders and Brewster were in the pre-Emanuel Steward era. Since then, he has been most known for his iron defence…Wach did break through that still, however.
AJ is on the rise, Wlad is on the decline. Had the two met in the middle, it would have been a very different story.
Klitschko Win: For The Ukrainian to win, he will have to take the young lion into deep water where he has never found himself before.
Wlad would need to use his size, strength and savvy ring craft to bully Joshua, lean on him, shove and sap his energy.
The fight will have to go into the later rounds as I can’t see Joshua being stopped early. The opening rounds will belong to him, in my view.
Draw: These guys have sparred together way back in November 2014, each one heaping praise upon the other and leaving the ring with huge respect for one another. That tells me that they are very closely-matched.
It’s possible that their many shared qualities can cancel each other out. If AJ cannot land his blurring right hand freely or cleanly then that would be a huge part of his arsenal nullified. It could take some adjusting to try to find another way to win, which will take some rounds going by being dropped or drawn along the way.
Prediction: AJ is on the rise, Wlad is on the decline. Had the two met in the middle, it would have been a very different story.
Joshua is the hungry, young lion but both fighters will share the same determination, desire and drive in this fight.
AJ is desperate to keep winning, continue the huge hype train that he is riding courtesy of Sky Sports, but, most of all, to cement his claim to be a credible world champion that is here to stay and rule for time to come.
Wlad will have more motivation in this fight than any of his other fights over the past decade. To continue defending his titles for such a long period – second only to Joe Louis – will have taken a very strong mind to do so. Now that he enters his 28th World Championship contest without any titles, his will to win will be higher than ever.
AJ will start fast, we all expect that. Klitschko will likely be hiding behind his steel walled defence for the opening rounds in an attempt to get his athletic counterpart into the later rounds and into the deep water that he has never entered before. There, he can use his vast experience, stamina and intelligent ring craft to win on points.
I don’t think this will happen, however. He has been gunshy in his previous fights and the Wlad that used to knock opponents out with a lead left hook is not the same one that I think we are going to see in the ring with the fast, heavy-handed Joshua.
I think Joshua will win by knockout but it will take five or six rounds for him to get through and start landing cleanly.
— Michael Buffer (@Michael_Buffer) April 27, 2017
We spoke to exclusively to WilliamHill – the official bookmakers for the fight, ahead of the fight.
“In terms of number of bets, the pair are relatively similar at the moment, however, Joshua has attracted the majority of the bigger wagers which has ultimately seen his odds tumble to 4/9 from 10/11 when the fight was first announced,” said WilliamHill spokesman Joe Crilly.
“The worst result in terms of round betting is Joshua in round one although given that he is 25/1 to do so, it does not take a huge amount to rack up the liabilities. In terms of the best backed, round 4 Joshua at 14/1 has proved popular.
“It is 1/3 that the fight fails to go the distance and 8/13 that Joshua wins by KO, TKO or DQ so certainly we think that if Joshua wins (and he is favourite) that his most likely way of doing so will be by finishing the fight early.”