The New York press conference for Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko was held on this snowy Tuesday, January the 31st at Madison Square Garden. A sizable crowd of fans and media attended to hear about the upcoming fight on April 29, 2017 at Wembley Stadium in London.
Bernd Bönte, Klitschko’s manager, declared this a promoter’s dream fight: a young, undefeated champion that is likely the future of boxing versus the heavyweight champion who ruled the division for almost a decade. He said Klitschko is “very very motivated” with extra emphasis, and believes Klitschko will join legends, Ali and Holyfield.
Eddie Hearn, Joshua’s manager, reminded the crowd that this is Joshua’s 19th professional fight, at a stadium with 90,000 people, and a unification title fight. He said they know Klitschko is a very determined man, but feel it is the right time for Joshua to take this massive leap up to battle a champ. Hearn explained Joshua wants to be the best, and will therefore, fight the best, unlike many who take fights just to get a TKO on their record.
Wladimir was pumped, comfortable, and pushing his word of choice for this fight: “obsession”, which he said “means love”. He made it clear that his goal is to become a 3 time world champion, but was respectful and courteous to Joshua. Klitschko talked about his admiration for Joshua since watching him win the Olympic gold in 2012, comparing AJ to himself in terms of career growth. Klitschko addressed Joshua saying, “I hope you made enough plans to fight Wilder after me.” He said it’s good to be young and ambitious, further displaying his support for Joshua as a future champ and as a possible mentor in the future. He joked that in three years, AJ will be too good, and he’ll be too old, further confirming the time for this fight is now. He will be 41 for the fight in April, while Joshua is 27. As a seasoned fighter, Wladimir proudly gave himself and AJ credit for being able to have “a healthy and respectful conversation in such a crazy world” about such a barbaric sport. He hopes this will aid in building boxing back up, or in his words, “polish the sweet science”.
AJ countered Wladimir’s use of “obsession” by saying his “obsession lies within myself.” He compared himself to a young, ambitious lion, and believes that destiny has brought them to this fight at this point in both of their careers. It was repeatedly asked if this fight is too soon for AJ, and too late for Klitschko, but both stuck to their guns and said the timing is right.
AJ showed mental strength and awareness as he guided the crowd through his thought process from the Olympics to the biggest fight of his career happening this April. Joshua said what got him here is being true to himself, being happy to look in the mirror because he is doing his part for the sport of boxing and for himself. He regaled having the vision three years ago when people were asking when he would fight champions such as Klitschko, and he had thought in three years time, he would take on Wladimir. Furthermore, Joshua explained from the neck down, all fighters are fit. It’s the neck up that separates fighters; and Joshua seems to be in a very self-assured, confident place.
The winner of April 29th is unknown, but the match up is surely an intriguing one. As the date approaches, keep a look out for where it will be aired as it is not yet determined; however, it will not be a pay per view.