Three-time heavyweight world champion Wladimir Klitschko (64-4, 54 KOs) is set to return to action Saturday night as he takes on heavyweight titleholder Anthony Joshua (18-0, 18 KOs) in a 12-round bout at the legendary Wembley Stadium in London, where Joshua’s heavyweight belt and a vacant title will be on the line.
For the 41-year-old Klitschko, the bout is a risky assignment due to both the age difference between he and Joshua, 27, and to the layoff he has faced after the cancellation of his rematch against Joshua’s fellow Englishman, Tyson Fury, who defeated Klitschko the most recent time he stepped into the ring on November 28, 2015.
To win this battle, Wladimir Klitschko will need to consider the following keys:
Use your wisdom
Experience is Klitschko’s greatest attribute and the one that can secure his victory. He has been a champion for more than a decade, during which he totally dominated the heavyweight division. He has faced consistent good opposition and has proved to be a solid champion. Drawing on his experience can help lead him to victory against an inexperienced Joshua who has yet to face a world-class opponent.
Defense is the best offense
Klitschko’s defensive strategy must be perfect against an opponent who has the edge in power and speed. He will have to use his body to evade Joshua’s power shots, be precise when blocking, use his jab to maintain the proper defensive distance and use that same jab as the base for throwing his own combinations when he sees the opportunity.
Shake ‘n’ bake
Joshua usually adopts a side-on stance with a low right hand and always takes an offensive approach. Klitschko should feint with the right before throwing the left from outside as Dillian Whyte did with some success against Joshua when they met in 2015 — a TKO7 Joshua victory — or let him get closer before throwing a straight left followed by a right hook, as Klitschko did in his knockout victory over Alexander Povetkin.
Do the right thing
A classic Klitschko shot: When his opponent steps in with a straight left, he counters with an overhand right parallel to his opponents arm. It is almost a straight right, slightly arched, that catches his opponent on the chin and always causes some damage. That is exactly how he knocked out Calvin Brock in the seventh round of their 2006 bout. Joshua often relies on his straight left, and Klitschko will have more than one opportunity to respond with this lethal punch.
Test that chin
It is clear that on this occasion, Klitschko will play less of an offensive role, but when Joshua gives him the initiative, he should look to throw punches sparingly but accurately. His mission is to find Joshua’s chin. No one has really tested it up to this point, and there is still a question mark over Joshua’s durability. Klitschko has the ability to rattle him, but his punching must be precise and very effective if he wants to find the chin.