By Blake "Racehorse" Chavez
How big is the Anthony Joshua/Vlad Klitschko fight? Ninety thousand maniacs will attend the match to determine who wears the historically most vaunted crown in sports; that of heavyweight champion of the world. The iconic arches of Wembley Stadium in London shall loom over the festivities as the delirious home crowd cheers on their lad, Anthony Joshua. Let’s hope Vlad doesn’t resort to grappling with Joshua.
The Lord knows he’s being paid a king’s ransom, so he owes the fans a show. Joshua will come to fight as he couldn’t grapple if his life depended on it... and it just may. Thrills, chills, and spills. Heavy hands thrown from the most dangerous men on earth is what the fans want and deserve to see.
A pair of six-foot six behemoths trading leather, asking for and receiving no quarter, would give the sport of boxing a refreshing jolt of energy and life. Passive caution is guaranteed to stink any joint out, whether it’s at the Reseda Country Club, Barclay’s, or storied Wembley.
Please guys, do not deliver a tentative dance ala Thurman vs Garcia, or Floyd vs everybody he faced in most of his last ten fights or so. It is incumbent upon Joshua and Vlad to cut loose with both barrels, or suffer the consequences of forever staining their legacies.
Speaking of king’s ransoms, Joshua is being awarded a minimum of $20 million. Vlad is scooping up a handsome $16.8 million. A mountain of money for future purses are at stake. Everybody always wants to make more, from the janitor at the hospital, to Floyd.
There is never enough for boxers in particular, except rare exceptions such as Marvelous Hagler and Rocky Marciano. Vlad will not go home of his own accord, he must be beaten half-to-death before he hangs up the gloves. He claims to own a PHD in Sports Science, but it would seem if that were so, he would not be risking his forty-one-year-old ass just for another shot at the brass ring he’s already captured a couple of times. His motivation and desire are in question, Joshua’s are not.
So, who wins?
With almost seventy fights in the bank, Vlad is risking his marbles and a lifetime of sucking soup through a straw. Vlad’s three hundred and fifty-eight professional rounds would take their toll on any fighter, much less those who toil in the heavyweight division, as they devour punishment from the biggest and hardest hitting cavemen on the planet.
That’s not even taking into account the ravages of fighting at the world elite amateur level for many years and the brutal sparring that is required in this most serious of businesses. Even if we adopt the supposition that Vlad will indeed be motivated and is teeming with desire does not negate the fact that he’s an old man. A very old man in boxing terms. He’s slower on his feet than he’s ever been.
He’s adapted to the age factor by becoming the second coming of B-Hop with his gnarly punch-once-and-hold strategy. B-Hop put folks to sleep better than an institution-sized bottle of Sominex. Lately, Vlad has even out-Ruized the notorious heavyweight suspect, John "The Quiet Man" Ruiz. Yeah, he was quiet alright; and so boring I still have hate for him.
At one point Vlad reveled in his moniker as "Dr. Steelhammer", perhaps my favorite nickname. But to be blunt, he lost the right to be truly feared a long, long time ago.
Vlad fans can pin their hopes on a superb athlete that stayed in top shape over a long career. That spells discipline. His last ten opponents had a combined record of three hundred and forty wins against just eleven losses.
The doctor also boasts a nearly eighty percent KO ratio. Serious stuff. Joshua is just a pup, considering that over Vlad’s career he faced undefeated opponents a dozen times. He faced another dozen who had but one loss.
Toss in another eleven who only had two losses when they faced the good doctor and one can see that his pedigree and portfolio is a rare one indeed. He’s faced about twice the amount of quality fighters than Joshua has had bouts.
Joshua is Britain’s Golden Child. An Olympic gold medalist with an outstanding amateur career. He’s passed every test so far, in particular, the eye test. His physique is the epitome of what one might sculpt from clay to do battle in the heavyweight arena.
He’s pretty much demolished every professional foe he’s faced, albeit the caliber of his opposition is highly suspect at this juncture. Olympic gold? Henry Tillman and Fraudley Harrison can compare medals with Ali and Frazier, but can’t boast of an accomplished pro career.
Lots of Duane Bobicks out there as well. The fact that England’s heavyweight boxing prospects have never really struck fear in the hearts of the heavyweight landscape is also a concern. Though we must tip our cap to Lennox Lewis, who was a bonafide bloody terror, mostly we’ve been fed the Frank Bruno’s of the Isle.
Before we get ahead of ourselves in regards to Joshua, we must examine his resume. His last ten opponents won 273 fights whilst losing a whopping sixty-nine. Three of his last four bouts were against fighters over thirty years of age. And in two of those fights the opponents were undefeated, but only had sixteen, and seventeen fights each.
In other words, he’s been mowing through green-as-the-grass fighters that were not exactly spring chickens. As recently as eight and nine fights ago, his opponents had nineteen and twenty-two losses, respectively. I’ll say it. Joshua is suspect.
Vlad still has a terrific right hand, and a long, skillful jab. His stamina, if pushed hard by an aggressive Joshua, might reveal a questionable gas tank. He does not punch to the body, so he must rely on head-hunting to win. His chin is not very durable and it’s been demonstrated that he can be hit, and hit hard. His resiliency and ability to come off the canvass and war are most likely a thing of the past.
Joshua has ability, but also has flaws. He has a potent right hand, but has a tendency to reach with it. He also likes to showboat the right hand by bringing it back after a strike with a measure of elan.
Sort of when a home run hitter swings mightily and then whips his bat back to point it at the outfield. Showy, but kind of a Broner type move. The problem is that at times. he’s eyeing his handiwork and doesn’t bring his right hand back high enough for max defense. Vlad has surely noticed.
Another Joshua shortcoming lies with his hook to the head. Though accurate, he rarely turns his lower body to deliver it with maximum torque and power, so a lot of his head-aimed hooks are, in effect, arm punches. Oddly enough, he uses great form on his hooks to the body, rotating and generating an impressive amount of power.
On left uppercuts, about half the time he’s reaching from a distance; as Buster Douglas tried on Holyfield only to be KO’d with a beautiful counter right hand. Textbook; and the doctor can still, at times, deliver a textbook right hand. I believe Joshua to be a legitimate finisher, so should he stun Vlad, it could quickly be curtains.
There remains the question of Joshua’s chin. He can be hit, but his arsenal has thus far been too overwhelming to allow any frequency of incoming bombs from his opponents. Stamina? Deep waters have been known to drag folks under. But it’s not Joshua’s fault he’s steam-rolled everyone he’s faced.
It’s his management who should have provided a few stern tests that required putting in work over six to eight rounds. I note that when Tyson was taken into the later rounds he usually wilted.
Both men are tall and powerful. Both have exceptional reach at about eighty inches. Joshua is an unknown quantity when it comes to infighting, as he’s studiously avoided it, but Vlad doesn’t like it in close either, which is why he clinches so frequently. Vlad has seen it all. Joshua has barely caught a glimpse in comparison.
This is an interesting fight. I pick Joshua if the fight ends in a KO, But I’ll take Vlad if it goes the distance. How do you see it?
Blake "Racehorse" Chavez answers all of his emails. email@example.com