by Nedu Obi
Wladimir Klitschko is no longer the A-side of heavyweight boxing. Nope. That privilege now belongs to IBF heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua (h/t Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder); the rising star he’s set to joust with in the spring of April.
The 6’6″ Ukrainian warhorse will have hit the 41-year-old mark by the time he steps into the ring with the young Joshua (13 years his junior).
Does Klitschko have anything left in the tank?
It’s running on empty, but he’s got just enough fuel to make one last stand.
Is he battle worn?
Not by a long shot, unless you factor in niggling injuries incurred during training. In 64 fights, Klitschko has only lost four times (thrice via T/KO). In addition, his style of fighting has afforded him the luxury of taking less punishment than what his counterparts would.
Though most importantly, has age finally caught up with the man most ardent boxing fans and critics alike would include into their top ten heavyweights of all time?
In November of 2015, Klitschko took on the brash Brit, and switch-hitting Tyson Fury. For the first time in his storied career, the man who had laid waste to the heavyweight division for over a decade, looked slow and out of his depth.
He had no answers for Fury’s unorthodox style of boxing, which culminated in the surrender of his coveted belts.
“Dr. Steelhammer has shown time and again why he reigned supremely aloft the heavyweight summit – skill set, ring smarts, power and precision, timing and speed. Nonetheless, the aforementioned attributes were lacking in the Fury fight.
Maybe he had a bad day at the office, but it’s been almost eighteen months removed from that night he tasted defeat.
Furthermore, he’s been out of the game in as many months.
Per contra, in Klitschko’s period of inactivity, Joshua has put together a quartet of knock out victories – Dillian Whyte, capturing the IBF belt, and two successful defenses of said straps.
So, can the mighty Klitschko defy age, usurp Joshua’s strap, along with the vacant WBA (Super) and IBO belts and rule the division yet again?
By far Klitschko’ faced the better opposition – a who’s who of the soi-disant heavyweight boxing elite of his time.
Joshua on the other hand is still a pro boxing neophyte, and a tad bit wet behind the ears, however, Joshua’s youth, tenacity, and the empowerment of being a world heavyweight champ (an undefeated one at that) will see him send the ageing Klitschko on to his final destination – the sweet science’ knacker’s yard.
“There is no place in which to hide
When Age comes seeking for his bride.”
Joyce Kilmer, “Age Comes A-Wooing”