By Frank Lotierzo
Tyson Fury, based on his upset of Wladimir Klitschko last November, is the reigning heavyweight champion. Fury’s upset caught the boxing world by surprise and fans have been waiting nearly a year to see if Fury could best a better prepared Klitschko again. However, due to Tyson’s mental health the fight has been canceled again.
It’s unknown whether or not Tyson Fury will ever box again let alone fight Klitschko a second time. And if truth be told, I doubt boxing fans are very upset that in all likelihood they won’t see a rematch. The Fury-Klitschko bout was unwatchable. There were hardly any clean punches landed and it looked like two big novices in about their eighth or ninth pro bout. If you had never seen either guy fight before, you would have come away saying Fury can’t fight and Klitschko won’t. Moreover, Fury’s win certainly didn’t serve notice that there’s a new sheriff in town; he squeaked past Wladimir.
With Fury out of the picture, various news agencies are reporting that a clash between Wladimir Klitschko 64-4 (53) and IBF champ Joshua Fury 17-0 (17) has become a possibility. Joshua is scheduled to fight November 26th against an opponent not yet named. The fight will be at the same arena where Klitschko was set to battle Fury in late October before Fury’s issues surfaced. With Fury out of the picture, a Joshua vs. Klitschko matchup would be even better.
Wladmir Klitschko represents yesterday’s heavyweight elite. At 6’6” 245 he learned how to use his height and reach to fight like a big man. His money punch, although he could turn the fight with his left-hook, was his right hand. And he only needed to land one of them clean to either end the fight or induce his opponent to clam up and look to go the distance. He practically dominated the division for a decade and most of his mandatory challengers looked like no-hopers once he was in front of them. Granted, the era in which he fought was very pedestrian, but he did the only thing a fighter can be asked to do, and that’s beat everybody in front of him during his title reign, which Wladimir did until Fury came along. However, he’s been on the decline for the last two or three years — something that was evident during the bout with Fury when he just couldn’t pull the trigger offensively. That said, Wladimir Klitschko has secured his place in heavyweight history and is still the second or third most dangerous fighter in the division. Yes, he lost to Tyson Fury, but aside from Joshua and Luis Ortiz, I’d favor Wladimir over any other heavyweight in the world.
If Klitschko represents the past – Anthony Joshua absolutely represents the future. Joshua, like Klitschko, is a former Olympic gold medalist. He’s also known for his power and exceptional knockout record. And like Wladimir, Joshua, 6’6” 235, is a tremendously proportioned heavyweight physically. Both he and Klitschko own fight altering power in their right hand and left hook, with the major difference being that Joshua’s hands are faster, he puts his punches together in succession more fluidly and, most notably, he isn’t the least bit tentative when it comes to cutting loose and really letting his hands go. The only question regarding Joshua is his chin and durability, something that has plagued Klitschko his entire career being that he was stopped in dramatic fashion in three of his four losses. But we must not forget that Dillian Whyte, who isn’t in the same stratosphere as Wladimir when it comes to punching power, really shook up Joshua before Anthony stopped him. So it’s plausible that Klitschko could put Joshua away in a spectacular fashion if he ever tags him with his best right hand.
As you can see, Joshua-Klitschko is a very intriguing bout if it gets made. Imagine what a win over Joshua would do for Wladimir’s legacy, especially coming at age 40 when he’s viewed as a fighter on the decline. How many fighters not named Bernard Hopkins have scored their most impressive victory at age 40? I don’t believe anyone doubts that Anthony Joshua has the greatest potential and highest ceiling among any of the so-called next generation heavyweights….including Deontay Wilder and Joseph Parker. Among today’s heavyweights, Joshua is the most hyped, most exciting to watch, and most talked-about title holder since Mike Tyson circa 1986-88. And like Tyson did during his prime, Joshua puts his opponents away in a memorable fashion, leaving fans clamoring to see him again. A win over Joshua at this late stage of the game would be monumental for Wladimir and he no doubt has the tools, even at 40, to pull it off.
But motivation isn’t a one way street pertaining to these two. Joshua would be more jacked- up heading into a bout with Klitschko than we’ve seen him to date. Beating Klitschko would truly represent the passing of the torch in much the same way Marciano beating Louis, Clay beating Liston, Holmes beating Ali and Tyson beating Holmes did. I know Fury beat Wladimir in his last fight, but Fury wasn’t going to go down in heavyweight history as anything other than a footnote. Whereas Joshua would be defeating a better prepared version of Klitschko in a no doubt more impressive manner, and Joshua has the potential to one day be thought of as a legendary champion. I know that’s a long way off, but it’s extremely plausible, which obviously could never be said about Tyson Fury even in jest.
Joshua-Klitschko would be a genuine changing of the guard. Obviously it would be better for boxing if Joshua beat Klitschko because the new star heavyweight will have officially arrived. And Joshua would perhaps dominate the division for years to come. A nice looking guy built like a Greek God, he’s got authentic star power and he can punch. Add to that he’s young and very affable while at the same time willing to fight the best the division has to offer….it’s nearly impossible to refute that he’ll maintain high interest in boxing’s marque division. Actually, he will have come along at the perfect time. Conversely, if Klitschko beats Joshua, he will spoil the apple cart, but he will have gained respect in a way that he probably never dreamed of so late in his career.
Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s going to unfold that way if they meet. I expect Joshua to come out and go right at Wladimir. Anthony has the better hand speed and doesn’t fight with trepidation. He’ll land something big and meaningful on Klitschko in the midst of Wladimir surveying him trying to decipher his mode of attack….only then it will be too late. Joshua will have unloaded with his best finishing right hands and left-hooks, Wladimir will never recover, and a new heavyweight superstar will be on top of the boxing world!
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com