Why Klitschko-Joshua Makes Sense
By: Brandon Bernica
The boxing world fell into a collective stupor when Heavyweight kingpin Tyson Fury suddenly dropped out of his title rematch with Wladimir Klitschko. As a result, a gaping void exists in the division as Fury battles his demons out of the public view. Heavyweight is boxing’s most revered weight class, so the successor, or placeholder, to supremacy remains as important as ever.
At the top of the heap stand two giants in the sport: Wladimir Klitschko and Anthony Joshua. And if rumors serve to be true, these two icons might just lock fists soon, both vying for newfound acclaim. The Ukraine’s Klitschko is a name you’ve probably heard – after all, he outlasted everyone as divisional champion during a ten year reign prior to the Fury loss. Meanwhile, Joshua of Great Britain is still an unfamiliar name to most casual sports fans. Don’t sleep on him, though, because his skills and fitness are rapidly peaking as he approaches his biggest challenges yet.
Klitschko-Joshua is a contrast between the seasoned and the rising. There’s no doubting that Klitschko’s accolades warrant a strong presence in the matchup, but deeper insight points to more specific strengths in his arsenal. Particularly, he’s made his strong jab-to-right cross a staple offensive weapon. He’ll lure you to sleep with a stiff jab that most fighters aim to time. But once your concentration drifts towards just this one punch, his right cross wakens from slumber, often piercing opponents with surprising timing. Of course it’s bread-and-butter, but think of it more as five-star restaurant bread and immaculately churned butter.
The real finesse of this matchup comes from Joshua fitting the foil role perfectly at this stage in his career. If you pay attention closely to boxing prospect projections, you’d know that Joshua aims to be a great in the sport if all pans out. But don’t count the former Olympic gold medalist as a project in the works; he’s already primed to stab his flag into the ground at the division’s summit. Not only is Joshua physically shaped like a centuries-old avant-garde sculpture, but his agility and instinctive ring acumen make optimal use of his physique for boxing success. Better yet, both his hands are poised with fight-changing power, usually unloaded with fluidity unusual for someone his size.
So why does boxing need this fight? While Joshua’s youthful package counters Klitschko’s age hard on paper, a little advantage known as experience swings heavily in the former champion’s direction. Experience isn’t just a nominal term handed out like a golden parachute, it embodies years of situational trial-and-error that refines decision-making over time. If Joshua can’t impose his talent and build on the heavier Klitschko over the course of the fight, he could be worn down, left for fistic dissection in the untraveled later rounds. Inversely, Joshua’s lack of multiple fight fatigue might elevate his conditioning over Klitschko’s tired frame – slowed by years of defending belts at the apex of the sport.
But more is at stake than simple pride and bravado. Each man lingers in the metaphorical wind, like a twig pleading to snap in a strong breeze. In other words, both men need a decisive victory to confirm and stabilize the viability of their careers. Klitschko’s case is direr, as a second loss in a row would mar his image as a top fighter oblivious to any real threat. Meanwhile, the hype surrounding Joshua is steadily climbing to feverish levels with every dominant win added to his resume. We’ve seen the hype envelope fighters before; just look at Joshua’s fellow countryman, David Price. Price was also a highly touted prospect until his career torpedoed into the ground with consecutive knockout losses to American Tony Thompson. Sometimes the buzz swarms over your calm, throwing you off of your game and sawing away your promise. Joshua needs to dispel those worries before they dispel him.
If boxing today could be summarized in one phrase, what would it be? Simple: “fights that need to happen, don’t.” The biggest players in their iron-clad offices often vouch that a fight can’t be made because this or that condition hasn’t been met. But tell me this: how can you expect the perfect conditions for matchmaking when boxing is already a self-destructive storm? Point is, there will always be trepidations in making any fight. Rather than litmus testing every one of those doubts, why not be bold and make fights that change the game? Klitschko-Joshua would be a great first step in this direction, heightening the standard for fights across the industry. Because both men need this opportunity more than any promoter needs to safeguard his or her own interests.
My recommendation for a new motto for boxing? “When there’s a will, there’s a way.”