By Edward Chaykovsky
Heavyweight contender Gerald Washington (18-1) had an offer to assist IBF world champion Anthony Joshua in training camp, but he passed on the offer to instead join the camp of former division ruler Wladimir Klitschko.
Joshua will defend his title against Klitschko on April 29th, before a crowd of 90,000 fans at Wembley. The vacant WBA, IBO belts are up for grabs.
Earlier this year, Washington challenged WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder. Washington, who took the fight on late notice, gave the puncher a lot of trouble in the first four rounds before he was caught and stopped in the fifth round.
Washington felt the offer to train with Klitschko was a much better opportunity. Joshua has been training with Mariusz Wach and 2016 Olympic silver medal winner Joe Joyce.
"They asked me to come, and I would love to work with [Joshua] also, but I wanted to be around someone who has had longevity like the long-time champion," Washington exclusively told Sky Sports.
"I want to gain that experience. I want to be around a guy that has worked with great trainers like Emanuel Steward and Johnathon Banks. It's great to be around such a great champion like Wladimir, who's been doing it for such a long time. You can feel the knowledge that is floating around and I'm trying to absorb as much as I can."
"We have a morning workout, then sparring in the evenings. Wladimir looks very good - he's fast and mobile, and he's putting together a great game-plan. He's a great guy - you can see the level of professionalism that he brings to the table. It's refreshing to see a classy guy. I always learn from guys who have been there before, and have walked that path."
The 41 year old Klitschko has been out of the ring since November 2015, when he lost a twelve round decision to Tyson Fury in a major upset. It was the former division ruler's first loss in over ten years. A second loss in a row may close the book on a long, Hall of Fame career.