April 24, 2017
April 24, 2017
Anthony Joshua

Action Images/Lee Smith

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THERE’S no doubt that Anthony Joshua is itching simply to get in the ring with Wladimir Klitschko. The last few days still need to tick down before the fight but the bulk of his training is done, with only tapering left after a hard training camp. But tensions will surely mount ahead of a contest hugely significant to British boxing and to Joshua himself.

He however cautions, “You’ve really got to get under my skin for me to whale out [in the build-up to fights]. The thing is, it’s a bit of an issue because I don’t want to get any bans or fines. I’m not the best verbally. I don’t want to lose control of myself, as that’s not a good place to be. So I just try to reserve myself a bit.

“I get angry quite easily when I’m tired from training. I get angry with my trainer [Robert McCracken] because he pushes me all the time. But it’s discipline, isn’t it? You have to be disciplined. It’s like when your coach tells you your left hook is wrong, and you think, ‘Right, I’m going to miss the pad here and go crack [on the coach], and see how bad the left hook is!’ It’s just little things like that. You have to control yourself. The lifestyle of boxing teaches you how to remain level-headed and disciplined, even when you want to lose your head.”

Joshua will be lauded if he is victorious. Klitschko may be 41 years old but he is the dominant heavyweight of his generation. The winner of this fight will surely be the leading man of the division.

“It’s so hard in this day and age to be yourself, because everyone expects you to be the way everyone else is going. If people accept me for who I am, and that fits into the bracket of being a people’s champion, then so be it. But if not, I’ve just got to stand for what I stand for,” Joshua said. “As long as [the public attention] doesn’t affect my time coming into the gym, I don’t mind. I’ve just got to get to the gym. I can’t really be waving on the streets and calling people in for photographs and signatures when I’m on my way to the gym! As long as it doesn’t get in the way of my gym time, I’m fine with everything.”

To reach this level of fame, acclaim, and success actually, the Watford man has progressed rapidly. “The [London 2012] Olympics doesn’t seem that long ago. Three-and-a-half years I’ve been a professional. That’s not that long. That’s why I like these documentaries [in the build-up] – it gives me a minute to reflect on how much has happened in a short space of time,” Joshua said. “I was supposed to be going to [the] Rio [2016 Olympics]. That’s when I was supposed to go to an Olympics, due to the fact that I needed experience. It would’ve given me seven years as an amateur. That’s a good amount of time.

“[After London 2012] I didn’t want to be headhunted as an amateur. I thought, ‘If I turn pro, I’ll go under the radar and fight in learning fights.’ Going around the country boxing [Paul] Butlin, [Matt] Legg, [Matt] Skelton, [Kevin] Johnson, Dillian [Whyte]. Now, I’m where I need to be, because I’ve learned a lot. I’m determined and confident. I’m in a good place.”

Eventually he didn’t mind leaping suddenly to world level. “I didn’t have to take the Charles Martin fight. I could’ve said, ‘No, I’m going to defend my British title and stay where I am’, but I don’t duck challenges. Now I’m here. It’s been a good journey. That’s why I feel confident. Fighting is about rising to the occasion each time. You don’t back down from any challenge,” he said.

Klitschko is indeed a huge challenge. But with British boxing already on a high, the sport in this country could be on the brink of a new era. “No sponsors would touch me with a bargepole when I turned pro. Heavyweight boxing is in a league of its own. It’s like the king of the jungle – big, strong guys,” Anthony mused. “We’re bringing big-time boxing back to the UK. When I turned pro, boxing was dead. So it’s nice that boxing is booming now.”

April 24, 2017
April 24, 2017
Wladimir Klitschko

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WOULD Wladimir Klitschko have lost to Tyson Fury if he’d had trainer Emmanuel Steward, who sadly passed away, in his corner on that fateful night in Dusseldorf?

WBC titlist Deontay Wilder, who has spent time in Klitschko’s camp in the past, has a definite answer. “F*** no,” the brash American declared. “I’m sorry for my language but no he wouldn’t.”

Wilder has a great regard for Manny Steward. “He see things before they happen,” Deontay continued. “They had a bond, they had a great relationship.”

For a start the WBC champion reckons Klitschko “would have thrown way more punches”.

“He lost because he didn’t throw no damn punches,” Wilder continued. “You’ve got to go out there and fight because you’re the champ… Because you’re the king and you don’t let nobody take it.”

April 24, 2017
April 24, 2017
Deontay Wilder

Ryan Hafey/PBC

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DEONTAY WILDER, the WBC heavyweight champion, has laid out his plan for the future of the heavyweight division. With Joseph Parker now lacking an opponent, after Hughie Fury pulled out of their May WBO title fight, Wilder has called out the New Zealander, wanting to fight him in July.

“I want to go get Parker,” Wilder declared. “What would be better than me and Parker fighting for the unification and then after that you have another unification [against the Anthony Joshua-Wladimir Klitschko WBA and IBF unification victor]. Winner takes all.”

“It’s going to be up to Parker,” he continued. “I’m trying to give fans what they want. They want one champion. I’m trying to make that happen.

“I’m looking forward to unifying this division. And bringing it back to America.”

He will be an interested observer of the Joshua-Klitschko clash this Saturday at Wembley stadium. “I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “I love this fight. I love it for the sport of boxing. The fans seem to be well in tune with it. I think it’s a super fight for the heavyweight division.”

He hopes to fight the winner eventually, ideally this year. “Hopefully. I’m not too confident. There’s a lot of people that’s involved in this,” he said. “It’s not just me. But that’s what the fans want.”

“There’s a lot of flaws Joshua has. Joshua’s still young in the game,” he warned. “[Klitschko] is going to teach Joshua a lot of things in the ring too.”

Wilder has been unimpressive in his recent fights but believes he is the man to take over the division. “I’m very confident I am the best in the division, I’m very confident that I will unify this division,” he said. “I’m waiting for my moment.”

“People don’t understand my style because I have such a weird style and I love it,” he insisted. “Once whoever unifies the division they’re going to bring another era to the heavyweight division.”

He expects Klitschko to win at Wembley stadium on Saturday, saying, “My heart is for Joshua but my mind is for Klitschko.”

Wilder wants Joshua to win because he sees that as a future mega-fight. And Deontay is willing to come to England to make it happen. “I’ll go anywhere in the world. That’s what I want to build my legacy behind. [To fight Alexander Povetkin] I was going to Russia. I was going to whip him. I was ready.

“I’m like a household name over there [in the UK.] I love the have fans there and they have strong support.”

But his message to Joshua was “you’ve got to make it in America, that’s the bottom line”.

“Come to America if he really wants to build his popularity,” he said. “It’s harder here in America to make it.

“Come and see the man who’s running it over here.”

April 24, 2017
April 24, 2017
Gabriel Rosado

Action Images/John Clifton

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IT didn’t turn out to be the war that we all expected between Martin Murray and Gabriel Rosado but it was a good night at the Echo Arena nonetheless.

Rosado had been in the UK for a good while and I tried to catch up with him at the Peacock gym the week before but, having spent a fruitless afternoon waiting for him in Canning Town, it wasn’t until the open workout in fight week that I got my first sight of the Philadelphian.

You don’t learn anything about what’s going to happen on fight night at open workouts but you do see and hear interesting little things. Rosado wanted to know who’d chosen the picture of him that Matchroom used for the fight poster, one that showed him with a swollen, busted up eye. He didn’t like it. He was also keen to be on last, despite being the first to arrive. Little things mattered to the American.

Thursday’s press conference was also interesting. I knew we were going to see Antony Fowler announced as a new Matchroom signing, what I didn’t know was that Dave Coldwell would be unveiled as his trainer. Dave was the first person I saw when I arrived and I assumed he was there in his capacity as manager to Lee Appleyard. Fowler’s a confident man but one, Dave told me, that is aware of his faults and under no illusions about how hard he’ll have to work to achieve what he wants to in the pro ring, a journey that starts at Bramall Lane on May 27 on the Brook vs Spence undercard. Fowler was at ease under the spotlight but did find himself interrupted just a couple of sentences into his opening remarks by Tony Bellew’s Z Cars ring tone.

Fowler’s former GB team mate Joe Cordina was there, just a couple of days away from his debut and was still waiting to discover who he’d be fighting. The Welshman wasn’t bothered and in any case late notice opponents could be a pretty common occurrence in the early part of his career as matching him will be difficult, as it will for Kelly, Okolie and Fowler.

Sean Dodd was on typically fine form when the main press conference got underway, even furnishing the Oxford English dictionary with a new word in “winnage.” Rosado waited until everyone else was assembled before making his entrance even though, once again, he was in plenty of time and there were the first signs that Murray was starting to grow a bit tired of his opponent and his insistence that he was the better boxer. They would, the St Helens man said, find out on the night. He kept his remarks brief as he needed to get to hospital to see his young daughter.

At the weigh-in the next day Rosado was half an hour late; a psychological ploy I’m sure, but it didn’t work as Murray refused to wait and had tipped the scales and left by the time he arrived. The visitors weren’t happy that they weren’t able to witness their opponent making the weight but the Board of Control had video footage and they had to be satisfied with that.

On fight night I was commentating alongside Paul Smith and Tony Bellew. Paul’s not far away at all from another world title shot, this time against the WBA regular champion Tyron Zeuge. He’s just waiting for the date and venue to be one hundred percent confirmed but it will be another trip to Germany for sure. As we were waiting for the action to get underway the conversation turned to Wembley and Joshua vs Klitschko. Smith’s take on it was that it was one of those fights where an upset was impossible because whatever ended up happening, the outcome would appear, after the event, to have been inevitable all along: If Joshua won then we’d all point at the difference in age and wonder why anyone had ever doubted that AJ wouldn’t be too young, hungry and powerful for the 41 year old Wladimir, but if Klitschko won then then the consensus would be that it was obvious that the former undisputed champion would know too much and have too much for an inexperienced and untested opponent.

Tony Bellew kicked off the show by announcing that he’d be fighting again, something we’d all strongly suspected, and that he’d be sharing ringside duties with two potential opponents in Deontay Wilder and David Haye the next week in London. The action that followed saw a good night for Mersey fighters with Sean Dodd, Rocky Fielding and Martin Murray all winning whilst Tom Farrell won an all Liverpool derby against Tommy Carus and Welsh Wizard Cordina made a predictably impressive debut.

Murray vs Rosado ended on a bit of a sour note. Murray was unhappy at being clipped just after the bell a couple of times and Rosado was equally unimpressed by being hit with some low blows. But it was the scorecards, or rather a particular scorecard, that saw the American lose the plot. The 119-109 in Murray’s favour returned by Poland’s Leszek Jankowiak was absurd and Rosado wasn’t slow to point it out, leaning over the ropes above us and letting Eddie Hearn, who was standing beside us (the Matchroom promoter pretty much always comes over at the end of a fight to see how we’ve scored it before the result’s announced), know exactly what he thought of it. A bemused Hearn maintained a diplomatic silence, the scoring was nothing to do with him after all, before the two boxers squared up in the ring and had to be separated.

So not the fight or the ending that had been predicted but if we always knew what was going to happen then nobody would watch sport at all. I did hear one startlingly accurate prediction in the hotel bar later though and it came from my colleague Andy Scott. Joseph Parker vs Hughie Fury, set for Auckland on May 6, would not happen, he said. He had no evidence, it was just a gut feeling. When I woke up the next morning and checked twitter he’d been proved right. Andy’s picked Joshua to win next week so hopefully he hasn’t peaked too early and still has one more in the tank.

April 24, 2017
April 24, 2017
deontay wilder

Ryan Hafey/Premier Boxing Champions

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‘DEONTAY WILDER is just a hater,’ said many keyboard warriors after the WBC heavyweight champion tabbed Wladimir Klitschko to defeat Anthony Joshua. A Klitschko victory is plausible, but their commentary on Wilder isn’t based on one fight pick alone.

It began when Joshua fought Eric Molina last December. Wilder foresaw a protracted battle, warning the comic-book-muscular Joshua not to take the pudgy Molina lightly. Alas, “The Bronze Bomber” needed nine rounds to stop Molina back in 2015. Joshua finished him in three.

The result didn’t sway the unrepentant Wilder’s opinion of the IBF titlist. Rather, he blamed Molina’s early exit on a bad strategy. Given his latest prognostication, it’s clear Wilder is as bullish on Joshua as President Trump is on CNN.

At Wilder’s February media luncheon in New York’s The Palm steakhouse, this reporter was eager to get further clarification.

“My heart is with Joshua, but my mind says Klitschko,” he said in between bites of salmon. “Klitschko has been through every situation and seen every style. I don’t think the kid is ready for that—I don’t think they’ve prepared him for that.”

When it was pointed out that the same could be said of him, Wilder explained that he had learned plenty sparring with Klitschko. When reminded that Joshua had also sparred Wladimir, he retorted, “Yeah, but the kid didn’t spar over 50 rounds like I did.”

It’s worth noting that Joshua, who at 27 is four years younger than Wilder, is a mere 18-0 to Wilder’s 38-0. Didn’t the 41-year-old Klitschko look his age in recent fights, Wilder was asked?

Yes, Wilder agreed, but guys like Bryant Jennings and Tyson Fury exposed that age because they were agile. “Joshua has no flexibility and doesn’t move his head,” Wilder said.

While Wilder doesn’t seem convinced about Joshua, calling him a hater distorts the truth. Wilder doesn’t appear to have any personal disdain for him. In fact, there’s a hint of admiration every time he mentions “the kid,” and some thinly-veiled envy.

Can you blame him?

Joshua was groomed for stardom from the moment he won gold in front of his fellow Brits at the 2012 Olympics. Already a Sky Sports staple, last May he signed a TV licensing deal with U.S. network Showtime. Joshua also holds several major endorsements, the likes of which no American fighter can boast, including Floyd Mayweather. And on April 29, 90,000 are expected at Wembley Stadium to witness his coronation versus Klitschko.

“England is known for hyping their fighters up and I love that,” Wilder says. “I wish America was the same way. But unfortunately, they wait until you get to the very top and that’s when everyone wants to come around and show love.”

No doubt, Wilder hasn’t reached that level yet. Winning Olympic bronze didn’t lead to endorsements; becoming the first U.S. heavyweight titlist in nine years barely moved the needle. And though his recent TKO of Gerald Washington drew 2.6 million viewers, he’s largely unknown outside of his native Alabama.

Many fight fans remain skeptical. Parts of Wilder’s style are still amateurish, but his frightening power has bailed him out nearly every time. Facing mandatory challenger Alexander Povetkin might’ve diminished their doubt. Wilder agreed to meet Povetkin in the latter’s native Russia when many thought he’d abdicate his title à la Riddick Bowe. He didn’t. You’d think he secretly administered the banned substance that led to Povetkin’s positive test and the bout’s cancellation.

Joshua, by contrast, is favoured to beat Klitschko who, prior to one off night versus Tyson Fury, successfully defended his title 18 times within a decade.

“People are always going to find a reason to downplay me,” Wilder says with a shrug. “I was in the Klitschko camp; I was in the [Tomasz] Adamek camp; the David Haye camp, and many more. Then add on my Olympic experience and all my pro fights. Yet they still said I’d lose to [Bermane] Stiverne. I am the best heavyweight in the world. Even if they don’t see it now, my time will come.”

Assuming a mandatory versus Bermane Stiverne doesn’t get in the way, Wilder’s plan is to unify versus WBO titlist Joseph Parker and then meet the Joshua-Klitschko winner. If it’s Joshua, he and Wilder have the makings of classic archrivals: Two undefeated super powers from opposite sides of the pond, vying for world supremacy.

Properly promoted, their showdown could translate to international stardom for the winner. Wilder wants that opportunity. It’s why he’ll be ringside on April 29, why he’s been vocal about his ambitions and why he’s pleading with the suits to move Joshua wisely. You can call him a Doubting Thomas if you want, but don’t crucify him for it. Just enjoy his chutzpah.

April 24, 2017
April 24, 2017
Tony Bellew next fight

Action Images/Andrew Couldridge

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Tony Bellew next fight odds

TONY BELLEW 6/4 to fight WBC champion Deontay Wilder next

Betway’s Alan Alger, said: “Tony Bellew is eyeing a heavyweight title clash in his next fight and the betting suggests he has current WBC champion Deontay Wilder or WBO champion Joseph Parker firmly in his sights.

“Bellew rocked the heavyweight division when beating David Haye in March, and the pair are 7/2 to cross paths again. While, it’s 10/1 for Bellew to fight an out-of-action Tyson Fury next.”

Betway – Boxing

Bellew Next Fight:

Deontay Wilder 6/4
Joseph Parker 7/4
David Haye 7/2
Tyson Fury 10/1

April 24, 2017
April 24, 2017
Tyson Fury

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ALTHOUGH he hasn’t boxed since 2015, and still needs to go through a hearing to restore his boxing licence, Tyson Fury has floated the idea of a comeback once again.

The excitement in the heavyweight division is being generated by his rivals Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko. Perhaps that has rekindled some passion for the sport. Fury however has numerous hurdles to overcome, including getting back in good condition. Tyson suggested he wanted to join Billy Joe Saunders when the middleweight boxes Avtandil Khurtsidze in July.

“Gypsy King reporting into the world. I can confirm I will be accompanying the one and only Billy Joe Saunders when he fights ‘Danny De Vito,’” Fury said in a social media post.

“I’m coming back. Going over to Marbella [to train]. We are going to Marbella and I’m coming back to take on all bums. Bum of the month campaign, what you say Frank [Warren, Saunders’ promoter]? So many bums out there that need cleaning up and wiping out.”

Fury has often sounded disillusioned with boxing but the frequency of recent posts on social media suggest he is hankering to make a return. Whether he can recover his best form though, only Fury can prove.