Wladimir Klitschko vs Joshua or Fury: The better fight is?Written by Lee Cleveland
Following the collapse of the heavyweight championship rematch between fight legend Wladimir Klitschko and lineal champion Tyson Fury, negotiations are underway for the former to face IBF belt holder Anthony Joshua.
Is Fury's cancellation a blessing in disguise for fans?
After 10 years without a loss, Wladimir Klitschko's heavyweight title reign came to an end in November in rather unspectacular fashion.
Taller and with a longer reach, a spry 6'9" Fury outboxed Wlad over twelve dismal rounds. The Brit's size and ability to box and move from the outside completely smothered Wlad's offense, limiting him to a total of 52 total punches and 8 power shots landed in the entire 12 rounds.
The usually-tentative Klitschko took caution to new levels against Fury, fighting with the hesitancy of a soldier walking through a mind field.
And Tyson Fury wasn't much better. Not known for a brutish style in the ring, the young lion offered few fireworks himself, managing to do just enough to win.
The issue: Wlad failed to make the proper adjustments and had no answer for the combination of Fury's size, reach and movement.
"You have to have Plan A to Z and have all of these adjustments ready," former heavyweight belt holder Chris Byrd told BoxingScene.com last February.
"It kind of freaked [Klitschko] out [that Fury had a different style]."
Would the rematch have been any different?
Perhaps a more dedicated, more determined Wlad would have given a better performance, win or lose. But would we have seen a true heavyweight fight with rock 'em, sock 'em entertainment?
... Probably not.
Wladimir Klitschko vs Anthony Joshua
Should Wlad face IBF king Anthony Joshua, can we expect to see a bout that'll be entirely different than Klitschko vs Fury?
Fury was able to use his reach advantage, nimble feet and a quick, stingy jab to keep the tentative Klitschko at bay, forcing Wlad to play the role of an aggressive slugger, something he isn't accustomed to or comfortable with.
Fighting forward effectively takes an entirely different skill set and some fighters, especially technical boxers, aren't nearly as proficient when forced to be the aggressor.
But unlike Fury, Anthony Joshua will likely 'take the fight' to Wlad. He's quicker and more explosive than Fury, has more on his shots and is adept at taking the lead. That, of course, might play into Klitschko's hands because he'll have more opportunities to unleash.
Thus far, Anthony Joshua, although the least accomplished of the three champions, has proven to be the most crowd-pleasing in the ring. Several inches shorter than Tyson, the 6'6" Joshua, won't have the luxury of using his jab to pile up the points round after round in a Klitschko showdown
In addition, Anthony doesn't move as much as his fellow Brit, often employing a 'seek and destroy' style instead.
Despite Joshua's power and Wlad's questionable chin, Anthony might even be the better opponent, stylistically, for Wlad.
Should Klitschko vs Joshua happen, look for the Brit's style to bring out the best in Klitschko who is well-capable of unleashing fireworks when the opportunities present themselves.
Lee is Managing Editor of FightSaga.com, a student of the Sweet Science and longtime boxing fan.
A gym rat in the 1990s, Lee was trained by 1976 Olympic Silver Medalist Charles Mooney and several retired seasoned pros. He was also a sparring partner for former WBA Super Middleweight Champion Steve Little who upset Michael Nunn for the WBA Super Middleweight Title in '94.
Lee created FightSaga.com to honor and preserve boxing's rich heritage, chronicle the achievements of top fighters, celebrate the legacy of big fights and provide a fun, educational experience for fight fans.