The buzz surrounding Anthony Joshua is incredible, unprecedented even, so much so – that no one has really even considered he could lose to Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley on Saturday.
He could. Personally, I’ve got the Ukrainian down to win albeit with a few reservations. He is 41, hasn’t fought for a while now and was outclassed by Tyson Fury when he was last seen.
Joshua has the power to down anyone but he’s got to land a big punch or two for that to count and Klitschko is an expert at staying out of trouble. Fury won with his jab and that isn’t a tactic Joshua can adopt, or one he should.
The 27-year-old has completed just 44 rounds in the ring in his 18 fights – that’s barely two hours. Two hours of preparation to take on the man who has dominated the heavyweight division for over a decade.
But Joshua is the odds-on favourite and the expectation on him is huge. A few boxing pundits and hardcore fans are going for a Klitschko win but the average man on the street, the people who only tune in to the Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom specials on Sky and will make up the vast majority of the audience on Saturday both in the stadium and via PPV, are expecting a Joshua demolition.
But this isn’t a formality and there is a very real chance Joshua loses. And what happens in that scenario?
Any other fighter with Joshua’s level of experience would be rated as a prospect, regardless of the fact he holds the IBF heavyweight strap, but the hype-machine behind him has been as effective as his monster punching and the general consensus is he’s already a bona fide heavyweight star.
Joshua has the chance to back up all the plaudits he’s received on Saturday but if he is beaten, irrespective of the manner of the defeat, he will still be an up-and-coming fighter at worst in my eyes, it just remains to be seen how kind or cruel the media will be in the aftermath.
So if Joshua does go down, or is schooled and is on the wrong side of a one-sided points call, just remember he should still be judged as if he’s still on a very steep learning curve, rather than a failure.
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