Klitschko: ‘I am like Mount Everest’

Wladimir Klitschko takes on Anthony Joshua for the IBF heavyweight world title at Wembley Stadium in London on April 29. It is the one of the most eagerly anticipated heavyweight bouts of the year.

Wladimir Klitschko will end his 17-month hibernation when he takes on Anthony Joshua in what is billed to be the biggest heavyweight boxing bout in recent times.   -  AP

Wladimir Klitschko hadn’t been beaten in 11 years, when he took on Tyson Fury on November 28, 2015. The WBA (Super), WBO, IBF, IBO, The Ring and lineal heavyweight titles were at stake, and he lost them all to the Brit on a unanimous decision.

Klitschko tried desperately for a rematch, but it never materialised. The pain of defeat lingered, desperation for redemption kept him on his toes even at the age of 41, and he waited for the right opportunity to restore glory.

On April 29, his 17-month hibernation will end when he takes on Anthony Joshua in what is billed to be the biggest heavyweight boxing bout in recent times. The fight will happen in front of a sell-out crowd of 90,000 at the Wembley stadium, with his age and his opponent’s unbeaten record stacking heavily against his claim to the throne.

In an interview to the Guardian, Ukrainian sounded out the first warning to his 27-year-old opponent Joshua. “Funeral or hospital? Hospital or funeral? I don’t need many punches to knock a person out,” he boasted, before comparing himself to Mount Everest.

“This may sound arrogant but I am like Mount Everest. You can climb it during a certain period of time – during two weeks in April I believe – and say: ‘I conquered Everest.’ Then you’ve got to run down because it’s going to take you down if you miss the time.

“Some make it back but a lot of people die, so is Mount Everest defeated? No, it’s still there and it’s going to take another life this April,” Klitschko, also called Doctor Steelhammer, told Guardian.

Despite the show of bravado, the knockout artist (53 of his 64 wins in the last 27 years have been knockouts) is cautious. “This fight is 50-50. Can the younger guy make it? Has the older guy still got it? Question marks are making this event really interesting. I’ve never had a pause for a year and a half. Is it bad? Is it good? Will I have rust? I want the answers myself,” the 41-year-old said.

Anthony Joshua has a perfect record of 18 wins in 18 bouts since he turned pro.   -  Getty Images

  His opponent Anthony Joshua is however the firm favourite on the back of his imperious form. The Brit, of the same age as the Ukrainian’s experience, has a perfect professional record going into the bout. Ever since turning a professional four years ago, he has secured 18 wins from 18 fights, all via knockout.

He has been going about his routine Rocky-style — shadow boxing on the run, training in cramped quarters, et al. “The event’s bigger, but the ring remains the same,” Joshua told Guardian. “The objective is still to win. My training is due diligence, so I don’t want to go in there and start making it more complicated than it really is. Just got to do the job, and remain as confident as I always am.”

But Joshua is not taking things lightly. He knows Dr Steelhammer will come hard at him and isn’t underestimating his opponent. “It’s tough for me now and I’m younger. Imagine: I’m around people of his age, and I think to myself, they couldn’t do it. So I think to myself, I wonder what he’s doing. He must be in a place, mentally, where he wants to do it,” he said.