By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – If the timing doesn’t seem quite right to you for Wladimir Klitschko to fight Anthony Joshua, the former heavyweight champion completely disagrees.
Yes, Klitschko is coming off his first defeat in 11½ years, a poor performance in a unanimous-decision defeat to England’s Tyson Fury (25-0, 18 KOs) in November 2015. And sure, the 40-year-old Ukrainian won’t have fought for 17 months by the time he enters the ring to challenge England’s Joshua on April 29 at a sold-out Wembley Stadium in London.
Had he waited much longer, however, Klitschko thinks he would’ve been incapable of defeating the 27-year-old Joshua (18-0, 18 KOs).
“I think it’s the perfect time for both of us,” Klitschko said Tuesday during a press conference at Madison Square Garden. “In three years, he’s gonna be too good, and I’m gonna be too old, maybe. But this is the time and we just got it in [at] the right time.
“And it’s definitely the signature fight for boxing, period. Because I love that we’re sitting here and we can have a healthy and normal conversation with each other. In this crazy world, with all the wars and all the controversies and all of that, it’s amazing to see such a competitive sport, as is boxing, where actually we will demolish each other in the ring afterwards, but we are respectful to each other, respectful to the sport, respectful to the fans.”
While Klitschko’s detractors wonder whether he’s already too old to defeat a young knockout artist like Joshua, others question Joshua’s readiness to face an extremely experienced, heavy-handed opponent like Klitschko (64-4, 53 KOs).
“I think it’s just right,” Joshua said regarding the timing of fighting Klitschko. “When I look back and people said to me, like in my fifth fight, ‘When are you gonna fight Klitschko? Or Fury? Or Wilder?,’ because these guys have been pro for so many years. I thought maybe Klitschko wouldn’t be here, so I always distanced myself from that. But I always said, ‘Give me three years.’ And I’ve been in the game three years now. So it was like I had that vision before I got here. For sure, it may seem soon to people. But for me, it’s like an Olympic path, the four-year gap. So 2013 to 2017 has been my next Olympic cycle.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.