I’m pretty excited for the Anthony Joshua/Wladimir Klitschko fight this weekend. The fight is for Joshua’s IBF version of the heavyweight championship, as well as the vacant WBA version as well. While Tyson Fury is still the lineal “man who beat the man who beat the man” champion, he hasn’t fought since defeating Klitschko in November 2015 and by the looks of things he isn’t returning to the ring anytime soon for one reason or another. So personally, I’m going to consider the winner of the Joshua/Klitschko fight as the “interim” lineal heavyweight champion.
I’ve casually followed boxing since I was a kid, having seen such heavyweights as Lennox Lewis, Mike Tyson, Vitali Klitschko, Evander Holyfield, and most recently Wladimir Klitschko rule the division. I saw a news outlet recently refer to the fight this weekend as the biggest heavyweight fight in years, and while I initially disagreed because the true lineal championship isn’t on the line, the more I’ve thought about it the more I have to agree with it.
This is the first time in my time as a boxing fan where I can really recall Wladimir Klitschko entering the ring as the underdog. Also, the last time I really recall a heavyweight championship fight receiving this much publicity (as well as my personal interest) was when Wladimir Klitschko fought David Haye for the WBA, WBO, IBF, The Ring magazine, and lineal versions of the title back in July 2011. Furthermore, there’s going to be 90,000 fans at Wembley Stadium to witness this live in person this weekend. Saturday night really has all the ingredients of a historical matchup.
While I’ve seen that the WBA would like the winner of Joshua/Klitschko to face Luis Ortiz, an I’ve seen that the IBF would like the winner to face Kubrat Pulev, I’d prefer the winner fight Tyson Fury. But of course, that seems unlikely at the moment, and to be honest I’d really like to see the winner of Saturday’s fight face the WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder to further unify the heavyweight championships. But given the choice between Ortiz and Pulev, I’d like to see Ortiz get the next major title shot. He’s 27-0, and he has a big knockout win over Bryant Jennings, a fighter who Klitschko struggled against in 2015. Furthermore, Pulev had his shot at the lineal title against Klitschko in 2014 and was knocked out in the fifth round, so in the interest of seeing a new challenger, I’d like to see the WBA’s mandated challenger Luis Ortiz get the next title shot if it’s not going to be Tyson Fury or Deontay Wilder.
I still haven’t decided who I’m cheering for on Saturday. On one hand, you have the legend in Wladimir Klitscho. On the other hand, you have the rising young star in Anthony Joshua. It sounds corny, but I really just want to see a classic fight on Saturday night without controversy.
All in all, I really wish I was making the trip to England for the fight.