Anthony Joshua (18-0, 18 KOs) vs. Wladimir Klitschko (64-4, 53 KOs)
When: Saturday, April 29, 2017
Where: Wembley Stadium, London, England
Weight Class: IBF and WBA Heavyweight Championship
by Scott of Predictem.com
Betting Odds: Anthony Joshua -225, Wladimir Klitschko +185
Anthony Joshua defends his title against former longtime heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko on April 29 from Wembley Stadium in London.
Itís a classic new guard vs. old guard matchup, with the 27-year old Joshua looking to give his name the stamp of validation against the 41-year old ex-champ and future Hall of Famer. Joshua has certainly looked the part, flashing a 100% KO percentage in getting to this spot. Having yet to beat a top-flight heavyweight, however, Joshua is rising in class. How big a jump it actually is depends a lot on what Klitschko still has in the tank.
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Again, Joshua has shown all the necessary pre-requisites other than the one that tells you heís dependable at the highest reaches of this division. An Olympic gold medal winner, Joshua has knocked out all his opponents and only two have lasted past the sixth round. But therein lies the problemóhis lack of experience overall and the lackluster nature of his opposition. Contrast that to Klitschko who has faced every pertinent heavyweight from this era, many of whom are still at or near the top. Sometimes criticized for a boring style and being the beneficiary of a weak era of big men, Klitschko can add a big win over the leading candidate in the latest new wave of heavyweights. This is a legacy-building win at stake for Klitschko. Letís not forget the stakes are also very high for Joshua.
Looking back, Klitschko really had an interesting career. He was able to bring himself back from the ashes to become the signature big man of his period, with nearly two dozen title fights to his credit. He went on a long run of dominance that ended in November 2015 in an uninspired loss to Tyson Fury. It was really the only time weíve seen Klitschko not near his best. Was it a case of age or just overall deterioration or was he just having an off-night against a supremely-difficult style matchup in Fury? At his age, many will defer to the former, but is a fighter not entitled to an off-night? Will the heightened stakes and the fact that the light at the end of the tunnel is now in plain sight invigorate Klitschko? Or will this be another example of something we see played out time and again in boxing history where youth is served?
Joshua is certainly a formidable opponent. He is one of the few Klitschko opponents who match up with him favorably from a size-standpoint, standing 6í6Ē with a sculpted body. His right hand is a real wrecking-ball, landing with startling force and yielding fearsome results from those unfortunate enough to get struck with it. Itís just that he is going from fights against Dillian Whyte, Charles Martin, Dominic Breazeale, and Eric Molina to Wladimir ďDr. SteelhammerĒ Klitschko, holder of the heavyweight title for a decade. Thatís less of a jump and more of a quantum leap.
Still, Joshua has a lot going for him in this matchup, which is why heís favored. Klitschko never really fought explosive guys who matched him in size as Joshua does. We saw how Klitschkoís offense suffered badly and lost almost all continuity when facing a guy he couldnít control distance on when he lost to Fury. And while Fury is more-seasoned and trickier than Joshua, heís not nearly as explosive. And before we cast Klitschko as the knowledgeable veteran, letís remember that heís not the most-versatile fighter. He boxes. He neutralizes. In his long career, however, he never learned to actually fight. In the event that exchanging ensues, Klitschko has never shown he can shine in that light. He is either controlling the fight from long range or he loses. Against Fury, he wasnít all that sharp from long-range, either.
Age can dull the game Klitschko relies upon to get wins. His powers of anticipation and reflexes were big parts of his profile. The timing of his jab was sharp. Age can eat away at those assets. To his credit, however, Klitschko went years and years without ever taking a beating, even when losing the belt. In fact, there were few times he even got hit all that hard over the last decade-plus of his career. Always the consummate professional, he never got out of shape between fights and never arrived in the ring in anything less than fine condition. In other words, if looking for a fighter to thrive past the age of 40, why not Wladimir?
Joshua is trapped by his success, in a sense. In a perfect world, he would be a contender building up for a shot at the title. But he was jettisoned onto the world title stage quickly, without really developing the chops needed at this level. That doesnít mean he wonít win or that heís not cut out to be at this echelon. Itís just that the preparation isnít there. Perhaps Team Joshua just sees what others perhaps donít see and they know Klitschko is at the end and is ready to be plucked.
I donít see it. I envision a well-prepared Klitschko picking apart the still-green Joshua. Joshua can really crack, but behind the power is a fighter who is not dissimilar to a lot of flawed English heavyweights of yesteryearónamely in how straight-up he is. I picture Klitschko zeroing in with the jab and using his legs to steer out of trouble. A Joshua right hand could certainly send this analysis sideways, but I see the Klitschko right hand also making an appearance in this fight. And I think heís more capable of setting it up. Iím taking the underdog and going with Klitschko in this one.
My Prediction to Win the Fight:
Iím betting on Wladimir Klitschko at +185. Klitschko is getting on in years and Joshua is definitely a serious puncher, but the ex-champís experience, skills, and motivation make him a high-value selection at this price. At the end of the day, this is a gigantic class-jump for Joshua. For the absolute best odds on this fight and all sports bets, check out 5Dimes Sportsbook (Home of reduced odds sports wagering).
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