By Chris McKenna, courtesy of The Daily Star
ANTHONY JOSHUA could become one of Britain’s best if he beats Wladimir Klitschko tonight. Starsport spoke to some of the top names from these shores to get their predictions.
AMIR KHAN (former light-welterweight world champion and Olympic silver medallist)
Klitschko is very experienced but since Fury we don’t know what he is going to be like. It is going to be interesting to see what is left in him.
If Klitschko has half of what he had left then he will give AJ problems. I just think for AJ this is the fight where we find out what he really is.
Is he going to be the champion everyone thinks he is? Is he going to be a great heavyweight? This is a good fight to test AJ. This is his big welcome to the heavyweight division and his first chance to conquer the world.
Prediction: Joshua on points.
CARL FROCH (three-time super-middleweight champion)
I see it going one of two ways; Klitschko is either going to outbox him and use all his experience that he has built up over the years or Joshua will knock him out.
Klitschko has been a machine and the only blot on his record in 10 years or so is Tyson Fury.
I can see how Klitschko can make this fight easy for himself. Can he pull it off though? I’m not so sure.
If I had to gamble, I’m not a gambling man though, I’d say Joshua knocks him out.
But I can see how Klitschko could use his experience and outbox him.
Prediction: Joshua by KO.
RICKY HATTON (former light-welterweight and welterweight world champion)
Anthony would like to do it impressively but I can’t help but thinking it is just about the win. You have to focus on the win.
It could be one of our greatest every nights. I think he does join the best in Britain if he wins.
It’s not up to me, others will decide that who is the best from me, Joe Calzaghe, Prince Naseem or whoever.
He has won Olympic gold, won the world title after 16 fights, and then if he beats Klitschko, a big name, then it is huge. If he crowns it off with a stoppage he has to be up there.
Prediction: Joshua KO between 7-9
JOHNNY NELSON (former cruiserweight world champion)
The pace of Anthony Joshua, the speed of him and the youth will be key. Joshua has the power, Klitschko has the wisdom.
The longer it goes on, the more you would side with Klitschko as that Anthony’s power has not got through.
But I can’t see how Anthony cannot land clean in the first four or five rounds and that will tell us how well Klitschko can hold a shot.
I believe it is an inside the distance win for Anthony Joshua.
The longer the fight goes I would side with Wladimir because he has the experience and skill to take the pace down into his comfortable zone.
But the pace, youth and power of Joshua will get him in there in the first three or four rounds.
Prediction: Joshua by KO 1-4.
TONY BELLEW (former WBC cruiserweight champion)
I’m hoping for a Joshua win, I think if he goes out there and does what he has been doing to his previous opponents then he wins inside four rounds.
That is if he shows Wladimir Klitschko the same kind of respect he has been showing his opponents.
I don’t believe he will be do that. I believe he will go out there and show respect, be cautious and that will be the worst thing he can do.
He should go out there and jump on Klitschko like he did do with Eric Molina, with Charles Martin.
Let him know you mean business, let him know you’re a champion in your own right and that you’re not admiring anyone. Go in there and show him you’re the new king of boxing.
If he doesn’t do that and this fight goes past four rounds it scares me to be honest.
He hasn’t been in a situation where ‘what happens if you get cut?’ ‘what happens if a fighter keeps holding you?’ ‘what happens when you have lost the first three or four rounds?’.
Klitschko has been in all those scenarios. Klitschko has been on the floor and got back up.
If Anthony Joshua just is Anthony Joshua then I believe he knocks Klitschko out in the first four rounds. But if he doesn’t and it goes past four rounds then I believe that inexperience and lacking that big fight experience will cost him dearly.
If I was a betting man I’m going Joshua. Give me a thousand pound and I’ll put £800 on Joshua in the first four and the other £200 on Klitschko rounds eight to 12. I don’t think it goes the distance.
Prediction: Joshua by KO 1-4.
BILLY JOE SAUNDERS (current WBO middleweight champion)
Anthony Joshua has got a great chance but he has to get the job done within six rounds, otherwise I see Klitschko winning.
CARL FRAMPTON (Former world super-bantamweight and featherweight champion)
It’s a difficult one, I’ve changed my mind a couple of times.
A lot of people think that Joshua will be too young, too fresh and blow him away and that may be the case.
But wouldn’t surprise me if Klitschko beats him either by KO or points win.
I think people see Joshua as the bigger puncher but I would disagree, I think Klitschko is the bigger puncher. When Klitschko lands clean he has put a lot of guys to sleep.
That saying he was terrible against Fury, that was a year and a half ago so he won’t be getting better.
He’s an old man now with ring rust. I think Joshua’s youthfulness will be the deciding factor.
It’s going to be an interesting fight, I will go with Joshua but I’m saying that cautiously.