Heavyweight superstar Anthony Joshua has the world at his feet
British boxer becomes one of the most famous sportsmen on the planet after his epic fight with Wladimir Klitschko
Anthony Joshua has ascended the heights after his 11-round defeat of Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley on Saturday night, which is being hailed as one of the greatest heavyweight fights in history.
Having confirmed his status as one of the most famous sportsmen on the planet, the British boxer is even being spoken of in the same breath as the great Muhammad Ali.
In an epic contest in front of a crowd of 90,000, both men came close to victory as the fight exploded in a sensational fifth round. Joshua felled his opponent, only to be the one left staggering at the bell after an immense recovery from Klitschko.
He then found himself on the canvas in the sixth round and was lucky to survive the onslaught. Nevertheless, Joshua regrouped and finally, in the 11th round, launched a sustained and brutal assault, twice flooring his veteran opponent before the referee stepped in to stop proceedings.
It was a fight that "belongs with the very best of bouts in that marquee weight division since the gilded age of Muhammad Ali, George Foreman and Joe Frazier", says Paul Hayward of the Daily Telegraph.
"The greatest heavyweights of the modern era predate a time when the top division descended into mediocrity and chaos... Now, the gilded age no longer feels like a vanished era."
Joshua has played down comparisons to the greatest fighters, but Ron Lewis of The Times believes he is cut from the same cloth.
"At 28, Joshua has created the type of excitement not seen since the days of Mike Tyson. But while Tyson terrified people and was unpredictable, Joshua is a marketing man’s dream who already has a flood of blue chip sponsors beating down his door.
"American TV are already pushing for him to box on the other side of the Atlantic, while there have been talks with foreign governments, including China, about staging one of his title defences. Much like a Grand Prix in Formula One, the right to stage a Joshua fight could soon be a national status symbol.
"There has not been a truly global boxing superstar since the era of Muhammad Ali, when big fights were dotted around the world."
Joshua has been turning heads in the US and, blessed with "the right blend of terrifying power and effortless charisma", he "now has a chance to carry boxing on his hulking shoulders", says Martin Rogers of USA Today.
"The heavyweights have a leading man with a sense of style again, boxing has a fresh star who is still improving, and for as long as it lasts, it’ll be one heck of a show," he adds.
Joshua vs Klitschko: Has the apprentice been hoodwinked?
Anthony Joshua will have a 10lb weight advantage over Wladimir Klitschko when the two heavyweights meet, but despite the undefeated British boxer's confidence, there is a groundswell of support for his 41-year-old rival as they prepare to enter the ring at Wembley on Saturday.
Klitschko appears completely at ease going into the fight and after an assured performance at the pre-fight press conference and weigh-in, many observers believe he is capable of springing a surprise.
At 27, Joshua is 14 years younger than his opponent and much is being made of the fact he has never gone beyond seven rounds in his 19-fight career. The Ukrainian, on the other hand, is a veteran of 68 fights and has gone beyond ten rounds on more than a dozen occasions.
And that, Lennox Lewis told Sky Sports, puts Joshua at a "disadvantage".
He said: "There's going to be a lot of questions answered after this fight. We know you're powerful, but can you box? What do you do when you get hit? We're going to be watching all of this."
US heavyweight Deontay Wilder, who could face Saturday's winner, also felt Klitschko's experience was a benefit, reports the Daily Mail, and said it would give him "a little bit of an edge".
"Nothing should really knock him out".
Much depends on what you read into Klitschko's fight against Tyson Fury in November 2015, when he looked pedestrian and suffered a shock defeat, says Sean Ingle of The Guardian.
"It may be that Klitschko was just too old that night – and that he will look even more plodding and ponderous at Wembley after 18 months out. If so, it's an easy night for Joshua.
"But if Klitschko has anything left in the tank, I expect him to drag Joshua deeper into the trenches than ever before. The Ukrainian may even be able to spring a surprise late on – if he can navigate the early rounds."
Other experts, including Klitschko's older brother Vitali, believe Fury's unorthodox approach confused the boxer and Joshua will be an easier proposition.
Even the difference in weight has been seen as an advantage to the older man. Joshua is only marginally heavier than in previous fights, says Jeff Powell of the Daily Mail, but his rival "came in half a stone lighter than his usual fighting weight".
After his performance against Fury, Klitschko has clearly "prepared himself to produce faster hands and fleeter movement".
And while the build-up to the fight has been respectful, that will go out of the window once they are in the ring, says Paul Hayward of the Daily Telegraph.
"Joshua is on the cusp of becoming a global star," Hayward adds. "Klitschko is trying to redeem his career... From those two propositions, only one storyline can survive the Saturday night fever."
The fight "will be remembered not for how nice everyone was but which was the better, stronger, cleverer fighter".
The absence of chaos has allowed Klitschko to play the "master and apprentice" card, almost patronising Joshua at times, continues the journalist: "The steeliness in 'Dr Steelhammer' during this build-up is plainly designed to tell Joshua he has wandered out of his depth."
Whether he has or not will be decided on Saturday night.
Joshua vs Klitschko: Mind games begin with a memory stick
Wladimir Klitschko may have got the better of his rival Anthony Joshua at their press conference ahead of their heavyweight world title showdown at Wembley on Saturday.
Beginning the mind games with his British rival, the Ukrainian showed journalists a memory stick on which he said he had taped his pre-fight prediction.
It would be sewn into the gown he will wear when he enters the ring in front of 90,000 fans on Saturday night, he added.
Klitschko, 41, is bidding to become world champion for the third time by claiming Joshua's IBF title and the WBA crown he lost to Tyson Fury in 2015.
In contrast to many recent heavyweight showdowns, the build-up to this fight has been civilised, "but despite repeatedly stating his respect for his opponent, [Klitschko] finally attempted to unnerve him", says the Daily Telegraph.
"At Wednesday evening's public workouts at Wembley Arena there were suggestions Klitschko deliberately finished late to ensure Joshua would be waiting to start his. There is also a belief that he has remained so respectful towards the 27-year-old in an attempt to soften his edge before the two finally enter the ring."However, Joshua remained "was in bullish mood", says the Daily Mail, saying he viewed the fight as "another stepping stone towards greatness".
Klitschko appeared the more relaxed of the two men, joking he was "not Nostradamus" when asked about the prediction and bellowing: "Fake news" when questioned about rumours of an eye injury.
Joshua v Klitschko, doesn't need hype. Two top professionals, respectful of each other.Similar to LFC V BVB.Expecting fireworks.— Ben Webb (@BenWebbLFC) April 27, 2017
Think Klitschko won the press conference. Cool and calm with Joshua looking nervy. Can't wait for fight night!— Kenny Kennedy (@KennyKennedy71) April 27, 2017
Watching Joshua/Klitschko press conference. Both boxers showing each other respect, no trash talk. Can't help but admire the pair of them— Paul Walker (@Walkerpw) April 27, 2017
Klitschko trying to really pour on the mind games in this press conference..first time I've seen Joshua looking a bit tense....🤔— josephross70 (@josephrossMD) April 27, 2017
Joshua unfazed but Klitschko 'obsessed' as fight approaches
With just a few days to go before Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko square up for the biggest boxing match in post-war British history, tickets are still available on resale website, but even the cheapest upper tier tickets now cost more than £100.
Middle and lower tier tickets vary in price from around £200 to more than £1,000 depending on their location, while floor tickets are changing hands for thousands of pounds.
The 90,000 tickets originally went on sale through Stubhub and despite officially selling out in two hours some are still available there. Tickets are also available on resale sites including Viagogo and Seatwave.
For those who can't make it to Wembley the showdown will be televised on Sky Sports Box Office at a cost of £19.95.
Joshua is the heavy favourite at 7-15 on, while Klitschko is a generous 9-4.
At 41, Klitschko is the ageing underdog, but he should not be underestimated warns Steve Bunce in The Independent. "He has crushed and broken so many men that he has too often stood accused of being boring and repetitive. He has never been accused of being a brilliant heavyweight, but that grand sobriquet will be his in the years to come.
"The debate now is whether his obsession with regaining some of the many belts he once held will damage his reputation once he does vanish... The problem is his ego, his desire to get back something he does not need and something his ageing body might just be incapable of delivering.
"Everybody in the Klitschko business is praying there is one big fight left and everybody in the Joshua business is desperately hoping that there is not."
Joshua, meanwhile, has insisted that he is prepared for the fight despite his relative inexperience. "Joshua has only boxed 44 rounds in 18 professional fights — figures dwarfed by the 358 rounds amassed in 68 bouts by his Ukrainian opponent who ruled the heavyweight division for a decade." notes Riath al-Samarrai of the Daily Mail.
"The issue of experience has been held up as a factor in Klitschko’s favour by Lennox Lewis. But Joshua has rejected suggestions that he is undercooked, despite never going beyond the seventh round."
Indeed, Joshua appears totally unfazed says Paul MacInnes of The Guardian. He appears "so relaxed one wonders who does his massages", he says. "With less than a week to go the last thing Joshua looks is unsettled. He assures people that he can lose it, that his trainer, Rob McCracken, pushes him to the edge... But the reality is he will not be fazed before the moment of truth arrives."
Joshua vs Klitschko: Wembley tickets on sale for £30,000
With less than three weeks to go before the biggest heavyweight fight in Britain for generations, tickets to see Anthony Joshua do battle with Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley Stadium are being offered for sale at £30,000 each.
However, even the cheapest seats, a long way from the action in Wembley's upper tier, are changing hands for more than £100 and ringside seats are upwards of £10,000 - with some sellers demanding three times that much.
As the hype and the cost of tickets builds, Joshua has revealed he is aiming to become boxing's first billionaire. The undefeated British heavyweight, who will be fighting for the IBF, IBO and WBA heavyweight crowns at Wembley, told GQ Magazine: "I need to be a billionaire.
"Being a millionaire is good, but you have to set your sights higher. If I'm making £10 million from my next fight, my next target has to be making ten times that and if I get to £100m, £150m, why not go for the billion?
"I know self-made billionaires. It's hard, but it's possible."
Klitschko, meanwhile, is determined to win back his heavyweight title at the age of 41, almost 18 months after he lost to Tyson Fury.
"In the months, weeks and days before the Fury loss there was a comfortable, relaxed feeling surrounding Klitschko and that has now been replaced by a far more serious mood, just a tiny smile the safe side of malevolent," says Steve Bunce of The Independent.
He warns that the Ukrainian was "broken" by the defeat to Fury but has rediscovered his resolve and is "desperate" and "dangerous" now he has a "chance at redemption".
Joshua vs Klitschko: 10,000 extra tickets on sale next week
Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko will fight in front of a record crowd at Wembley in April it has been confirmed.
The heavyweight unification bout was originally expected to attract an audience of 80,000, but the stadium's capacity has been increased to 90,000 after London mayor Sadiq Khan brokered an agreement to lay on extra transport.
"Khan has reaffirmed his commitment to help the capital stage the biggest sporting events by bringing together officials from Network Rail, Transport for London and Wembley Stadium to increase capacity by a further 10,000," says the London Evening Standard.
"More overground trains and London Underground services will be run to help transport fans away from the venue, with Jubilee and Metropolitan lines operating at an increased capacity." The paper adds that Network Rail has also agreed to temporarily postpone planned engineering works on the day of the fight.
The current post-war attendance record for a boxing match in the UK is 80,000, set when Carl Froch beat George Groves at Wembley in 2014.
The overall record was set in 1939, when 90,000 people watched Len Harvey fight Jock McAvoy at White City, says Sky Sports. The Joshua Klitschko showdown will equal that figure.
The last of the original tickets were snapped up within an hour of going on general sale earlier this month and the extra 10,000 seats are expected to sell equally quickly. Promoter Eddie Hearn has claimed they could have sold out Wembley twice over.
The new batch of tickets, priced at £40, £60 and £80, will go on sale at 10am on 1 February on the Stubhub website.
Joshua vs Klitschko tickets: When and where do they go on sale?
Tickets to Anthony Joshua's mega-fight with Wladimir Klitschko go on sale this week, but will not be available to the general public until 20 December.
The two boxers appeared at their first press conference at Wembley on Wednesday and it was notable for its civility.
Their behaviour was "refreshingly classy", says James Dielhenn of Sky Sports.
"While tables have been overturned and security overworked in recent weeks, Joshua and Klitschko filled their press conference with superlatives about each other's talents," he writes.
However, there were some verbal jabs, with both fighters insisting they had what it takes to win and Klitschko attempting to assert his seniority by referring to his rival as his "little bro".
Dielhenn adds: "The peacocking of the former unified heavyweight champion was a forthright message that he represents the first of Joshua's opponents who has the tools to match the younger man's sheer physicality. Stood next to each other, Klitschko was certainly taller, and was the only man in the room who wasn't put to shame by Joshua's physique."
Unsurprisingly, the lack of mudslinging did not go down well in some quarters. Boxing News says two well-known trash talkers – Tyson Fury and David Haye – made it clear they were unimpressed with expletive laden tweets. But, as the website notes, "while Haye and Fury certainly know how to grab a headline, they have both received sanctions in the past for their behaviour outside of the ring".
Some boxers need to drum up interest in their bouts, but this one is different, writes Ben Dirs of the BBC. "What will sell the fight is not needle and trash-talk but the question of timing. It is a classic clash of generations, between a youthful, unproven king and a battle-hardened ruler from a previous age... let's just appreciate some plain old boxing."
With 90,000 tickets up for grabs, the organisers will be hoping for an enthusiastic response when the first tickets go on sale, priced from £40 to £2,000.
Club Wembley members will have the first chance to book them from midday on Friday. After that, tickets will go on sale through Stub Hub to Matchroom Fight Pass members at midday on Monday 19 December, reports the Daily Mirror.
General sale tickets will be available from 20 December, from Stub Hub and Wembley Stadium. The second release of tickets will take place on 16 January.