Joshua vs Klitschko sparring: Will Anthony have a 'sparring partner's mentality?'Written by Lee Cleveland
Sparring partners are brought in to a fighter's camp to help that fighter prepare for an upcoming bout. And almost always, that fighter is better than the men he spares with.
So what does the sparring partner stand to gain for getting beat up?
Sometimes he's paid but, regardless, he benefits from the experience acquired mixing it up with a superior, more well-traveled fighter. Larry Holmes, for example, learned a lot by being Muhammad Ali's sparring partner. The former would go on to be an all-time great himself.
So what happens when the sparring partner faces an ex mentor in a real prizefight?
Although Holmes beat a shopworn Ali, former sparring partners lose most of the time.
It's so common in boxing. The former sparring partner abandons his norm and adopts a sparring partner's mentality in the ring. Hence, he fights like the No. 2 man in the ring because, subconsciously, he sees himself as inferior to his opponent with whom he may have previously sparred over 100 rounds with.
As a former sparring partner, I can say it's easy to fall into that trap.
Will Anthony Joshua have a sparring partner’s mentality next week when he faces Wladimir Klitschko? After all, Joshua was a former sparring partner of Wlad's. Moreover, according to heavyweight contender Jarrell 'Big Baby' Miller, Wlad did a number on young Joshua when the two sparred a few years back.
"I think Wladimir will definitely beat AJ...if he doesn't, it's going to be over for him...," Miller told FightHype.com. "He sparred with AJ many times...it's only a year and half span, two years max, [since] they sparred last..."
"Wladimir was whoopin' his ass in camp."
Wladimir Klitschko vs Anthony Joshua
Date: Saturday, April 29, 2017
Venue: Wembley Stadium
Broadcast: SKY Sports (UK); Showtime, HBO (U.S.)
Titles: WBA (Vacant), IBF
Champion: Joshua (IBF)
Joshua has certainly improved over the last two years and won't be the same fighter Wlad presumably licked in camp. But how much of a psychological impact will that have on Joshua? And how much will it have on Wlad who might enter this bout a bit overconfident?
In the end, the onus lies on Joshua. When in the ring with Klitschko, will he see himself as the No.1 or No.2 fighter?
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.