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Boxing Futures: Anthony Joshua vs. Wladimir Klitschko
March 29, 2017

The heavyweight division once again takes center stage in the boxing world on Saturday, April 29th when IBF Champion Anthony Joshua defends his belt, as well as vies for the vacant WBA (Super) and IBO titles, against the ageless wonder Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley Stadium in London, in a fight dubbed “The Battle of Britain.”  

The 27-year-old Joshua, a native of Watford, England, enters the fray with an 18-0 record after a third-round knockout of Eric Molina last December. It was Joshua’s second successful defense of his IBF belt, the first of which resulted in a seventh-round KO of then unbeaten Dominic Breazeale last June. It was the first match of Joshua’s young career that lasted beyond the third round.  

Meanwhile, Klitschko hasn’t stepped in the ring since losing a unanimous decision to Tyson Fury in October of 2015. It was his first loss in ten years and brought to an end an era of dominance shared with older brother Vitali. After repeated attempts to schedule a rematch with Fury fell through, Wladimir agreed to battle Joshua in hopes of regaining the titles he once held for over a decade.

It’s a classic young buck versus savvy veteran bout. Joshua has youth and athleticism on his side, but Klitschko has 20-plus years of ring experience, 68 total fights, and a record 28 title matches to complement a deadly straight right hand and potent left hook. Who does SportsBetting.ag sportsbook think has the edge? Let’s take a look.

Wladimir Klitschko +185
Anthony Joshua -220

At age 41, Klitschko is clearly past his prime. He displayed a lethargic effort in the Fury defeat, and for the first time in years failed to land any devastating shots. He’s also dealt with some nagging injuries over the last 18 months, which is cause for concern considering his advanced age. His biggest advantage is his ring smarts and strategic prowess. If he can suck Joshua in with his jab and make the kid chase the knockout, he still has enough power to do damage. Although not in his best interest to go too long, the longer he can toy with Joshua, the more frustrated the young champ will become. Frustration can lead to mistakes, and that’s where Klitschko can pounce. If he stays patient and waits for his moment, an upset is possible. That said, his lengthy time away from the ring could either be a benefit or a hindrance. Any signs of early rust could prove costly against the sharp and hungry champion.  

Joshua has knocked out every opponent he’s faced. His 6’6” frame places him on Klitschko’s eye level, and his 82-inch reach bests Klitschko’s by an inch. He moves well for a man his size and has exceptional balance when firing. Very rarely does his throw wild punches, instead opting for compact blows that spring with power. The longest fight was the aforementioned seventh-rounder against Breazeale. As such, it’s fair to wonder how he will respond mentally and physically if it goes the distance and is left to the judges. From a stamina standpoint, he should be fine, unless he’s slacked in the training room. But the real test is between the ears. If he can’t knock the wise Russian out, what will his plan of attack be? Despite his inexperience, he has shown deft ability to use the left jab to set up the straight right, as he did against Charles Martin to seize the IBF belt, dropping the former champ with a par of lethally fast straight rights. If Klitschko can’t counter it or shows signs of fatigue at any point, he’s in trouble.   

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