Anthony Joshua (-250) vs. Wladimir Klitschko (+188), Draw (+3300)
The heavyweight division will have a new king on April 29th, when Anthony Joshua (18-0, 18 KO) and Wladimir Klitschko (64-4, 53 KO) fight for the IBF, WBA, and IBO heavyweight titles.
Klitschko’s decade-long reign over the heavyweight division came to an abrupt end when he suffered an upset loss to Tyson Fury back in 2015. Boxing’s marquee division looked set for the Fury era, but the British champion succumbed to his own personal demons and was forced to vacate his titles.
This left the division in disarray. Fury vowed to return and reclaim his titles, but it’s been over a year since he last stepped into the ring and boxing fans are growing restless. The heavyweight division has been put on hold for far too long and it’s time to fire it up again.
Anthony Joshua enters the fight with a perfect professional record — 18 fights, 18 wins, 18 knockouts. The 27-year-old had a breakout year in 2016, stripping Charles Martin of the IBF title and successfully defending it twice.
He’s stopped every fight before the eighth round, but is far from simply a knockout artist. He’s a patient, technical boxer who happens to have tremendous fight-stopping power.
Wladimir Klitschko has earned almost every accolade available in boxing. During his reign, he held the WBO, WBA, IBF, IBO, The Ring, and lineal heavyweight titles. From 2006 to 2015, he ruled over the division alongside his brother, Vitali.
But at 41 years old, the former champ is in the sunset years of his career. He hasn’t fought since his loss to Fury, leaving him with a bit of ring rust. A series of failed negotiations and injuries has left him inactive for over a year.
AJ, on the other hand, has been extremely active. Since turning pro in 2013, he’s had at least three fights a year. He’s young, hungry, and in his prime. Klitschko has already established himself as one of the greatest heavyweights in boxing history, but his 68 professional fights have taken a toll on him.
The Klitschko era is over and he’s already had his moment. Joshua boasts an unblemished record and I think it’s likely he’ll make it 19-0.
Pick: Anthony Joshua (-250)
Photo credit: Berlin Beyond (flickr) CC BY-SA 2.0 [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0]