The day of reckoning is here! In front of a rumoured 90,000 crowd. Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko will go to war in the heavyweight division in one of the most eagerly awaited fights in years at that weight. The world will genuinely be watching this one, Even Americans who are notoriously luke warm over European fighters seem interested. As Joshua himself says, now Americans are coming to the UK to watch fights, not the other way around.
The contrasts with the Haye versus Bellew fight could not be starker. The mutual respect between the fighters in the build-up is refreshing for most but arguably, does not create the hype that some may want for these contests. Haye and Bellew are also much lighter and faster on their feet (injuries permitting of course) and their epic contest is unlikely to be replicated on Saturday night. Joshua and Klitschko are much more genuine heavyweights which means the pace will inevitably be less frenetic. Expect more of a chess match, particularly if Klitschko gets on top as he will know the importance of not getting caught carelessly.
Klitschko has been around a long time and had the privilege of having Emanuel Steward as a coach for a time. Whilst Joshua should not necessarily be regarded as a new kid as he had an amateur career and now a sizable number of fights at professional level, many believe Klitschko's experience will be the key but not for me. He has achieved a considerable amount in his career but has been beaten. His subdued performance against Tyson Fury which brought about his most recent defeat was surprising to most observers and one wonders whether either latent injury or Old Father Time are catching up with the likable Ukrainian. Neither of the Klitschko brothers ever seemed to fully capture the public's imagination in a way that other boxers have done although this may be coming from a UK-centric perspective as they will clearly be highly regarded in their homeland. It is perhaps something of an indictment of modern thinking that his intellect, discipline and coolness simply do not appeal in the way that some of the more colourful characters boxing provides may do in many people's eyes. Joshua actually shares many of the Klitschko characteristics but seems to appeal more which may be down to simply being of a different generation where social media is a promoter's dream.
People will also say that Joshua has not been tested but to my mind he has, albeit only once. Dillian Whyte tested Joshua, make no mistake about it. Their grudge match threatened to boil over at times but Whyte caught Joshua with some heavy shots which Joshua handled. It would be true to suggest that many of his other fights have been over before they have started but that is not Joshua's fault. He is the younger man but he is hungry for success and has the potential to unify the heavyweight titles. Joshua's secret is similar to that of Gennady Golovkin and, it truth be told, it is not really a secret. He simply hits so hard. Joshua's left jab is reckoned to be similar to most boxers' loaded right hand so good luck if you do get caught with the booming, overhand right. The first few rounds will be cagey but my prediction is that Joshua will unload in the middle rounds and the tiring Klitschko will not have an answer. A Klitschko in prime condition may have been a different matter but I back Joshua to have too much. Should it go to the later rounds, it will depend on who gets their tactics right and it is this eventuality, if the same mistakes seen in the Fury fight are avoided, that may suite the more experienced boxer rather more despite the inevitable weariness.
With a packed undercard and a big crowd, expect another good night for British boxing.