Wladimir Klitschko vs Anthony Joshua: Like Holmes vs Mercer?Written by Lee Cleveland
Many expect 27-year-old heavyweight IBF Heavyweight Champion Anthony Joshua to defeat 41 year old former champion Wladimir Klitschko on April 29.
Despite his record of dominance, a 78 percent knockout ratio and the fact he's lost only one fight in 10 years, Klitschko is the clear underdog.
Is it his age (41)? Perhaps his recent performances?
It's likely a combination of both... and Joshua's showings thus far that have many insisting Wladimir can't win.
In fact, Lou DiBella, manager of WBC Heavyweight Champion Deontay Wilder, is already 'beating the drum' about a possible Joshua vs Wilder showdown.
"If down the line, you're looking at Joshua and Deontay, two good looking, well spoken, massive heavyweights with tremendous credentials were to meet for a total unification of the heavyweight division - that's a massive fight," DiBella told Sky Sports.
Not so fast, Lou.
Let's rewind all of the way back to February 1992. Fresh off his destructive knockout of Tommy Morrison months earlier, Ray Mercer is one of hottest fighters in boxing.
Like Anthony Joshua today, Mercer is 18-0 and an Olympic Gold Medalist, and opts to face a 40-something heavyweight legend.
Enter Larry Holmes.
Like Wladimir Klitschko today, Holmes was a previous long-reigning champion who was believed to be at the end of the road.
Wladimir Klitschko vs Anthony Joshua
Date: Saturday, April 29, 2017
Venue: Wembley Stadium
Broadcast: SKY Sports (UK); TBD in U.S.
Titles: WBA (Vacant), IBF
Champion: Joshua (IBF)
Holmes, now 42, had returned to boxing a year prior following a three-year absence from the ring. He'd won all five of his comeback fights but they were against transparently inferior competition.
Mercer vs Holmes was supposed to be the incarnation of a rising star and a farewell to an old pro, but things didn't quite happen that way.
A blistering 4-1 favorite, Mercer entered the fight full of confidence only to exit full of despair and, possibly, disbelief.
After a strong opening round for Mercer, one could slowly start noticing a separation of class that would only grow as the fight wore on.
Larry employed an unorthodox defense, unleashed right hands in every form and at all angles, and showcased some old school footwork, often circling out of harm's way.
... And let's not forget the Larry Holmes jab, one of the best in heavyweight history.
Ray Mercer hadn't seen anything like this before.
It was time to go to school.
After it became apparent what was transpiring, Holmes, now seizing control in the middle rounds, actually conversed with ring announcers while leaning against the ropes and blocking massive Mercer forays.
And bang! Holmes, trapped against the ropes, connects on power shots that stunt Mercer's assault, again and again.
The great Larry Holmes would cruise to a unanimous decision win that evening, securing a title shot against then-undisputed champion Evander Holyfield that would take place months later.
Klitschko has exuded a quiet confidence since has fight with Joshua was announced. It's a certain swagger that's self-assured but not arrogant.
Will history repeat itself on April 29? Will Klitschko vs Joshua be the modern-day Holmes vs Mercer?
Will the much younger, presumably stronger fighter be taken to school?
Holmes vs Mercer Round 3
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.