BOXING PREVIEW: The IBF heavyweight world title will be on the line when Joshua and Klitschko go toe-to-toe at the home of football, Wembley Stadium, on Saturday.

It’s a Numbers Game isn’t it?

64 and 53. That’s the amount of wins and knockouts Wladimir Klitschko has amassed over his pro boxing career. For Anthony Joshua that number is 18 and 18.

358 versus 44. The total number of rounds boxed in both fighter’s careers.

41 and 27. Joshua is twenty seven, Klitschko is nearly fifteen years his elder.

And finally, 17. It’s been seventeen months of inactivity for the Ukrainian. That’s the longest spell out of the ring for the former champ since he won his first world title, seventeen years ago.

Stopping Power

On face value, it all looks rather promising for Anthony Joshua. The young Brit has been riding the crest of a wave, knocking out weaker opponents for fun. While inferior they may be, Joshua’s dispatched each of them with displays of brutal power. It’s over 30 years ago since the heavyweight division has had a boxer with a record such as his. There is something Tyson-esque about him too, Joshua is a head-hunter. Iron Mike went 20 fights before being brought the full distance. AJ needs only knockout his next two opponents to surpass Tyson’s remarkable statistic.

To say he needs ‘only’ knockout his next two opponents is facetious in fairness. His next opponent has been knocking out fighters since Joshua was learning his abc’s. A Joshua KO is odds on here, however it will still appeal to many at around 1.85.

The Case against Klitschko

Therein lies the rub. Wlad first fought in 1996, he’s 41 years old, he lost his titles in poor fashion last time out, and that was 2015. If there was ever a context to produce ring rust, it’s this. His chin, while not being majorly suspect, could be vulnerable. Lamon Brewster 2004 comes to mind. There’s no doubt this current IBF champ can hurt Klitschko, it’s incumbent on the Ukrainian to find a way to survive and thrive. He’s unlikely to come out on top of a knockout contest.

Different side, same Coin

So Klitschko’s rusty. Or is he fresh? There’s a way to spin any of these factors and his camp will be spinning freshness. The point isn’t without its merit. For a cerebral fighter like Klitschko, rust might not be a factor, he looks well-conditioned and intently focused. This is his legacy fight. Joshua will have another five to ten years in the ring come what may on April 29th, a defeat would spell the end for Klitschko. He’s not likely to be reckless as a consequence, in fact, he never is.

We expect ‘Dr Steelhammer’ to be just exactly what he is. There’s the jab and the footwork. Both of which enable him to bring Joshua deeper than any fighter has so far. In fact, the technical deficit, based on Joshua’s fights so far, could see the Londoner chasing shadows and losing rounds while he comes to terms with the guaranteed step up in class.

A New Level

This is unchartered territory for Joshua. He’s by no means the finished article and will be required to find new levels on all aspects of his game. That being said, most people expect him to pass this test. The early betting is instructive, you can back AJ at around 1.45 on BETDAQ, while Wlad can be backed at 3.3.

The value betting could require a bit of patience. Ultimately we see Joshua winning, his prodigious power could see the fight finish early. Klitschko may be worth laying now and trading out in running. We can see the former IBO, WBO, WBA, and IBF World Champion surviving the onslaught, from there, even at 41 years of age, Klitschko has 12 round pedigree. Backing the Ukrainian after round six could reap dividends against the early lay bet.

Lay Klitschko, To Trade, at 3.3.

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