Wladimir Klitschko has revealed the “five-step plan” he believes will re-establish him as the world’s leading heavyweight when he meets Anthony Joshua in what the Ukrainian is calling his “signature” fight.
The 40-year-old hopes to regain two of the titles he lost to Tyson Fury when he challenges IBF champion Joshua at Wembley on April 29, when the vacant WBA title will also be contested.
He has often been dismissed as in decline since that shock defeat by Fury in 2015, but is adamant the fact he has not fought since then will be to his advantage on an occasion expected to attract a post-war British record boxing crowd of 90,000 fans.
“In the first step, my target is to become a three-time world champion,” said Klitschko. “I’ve been holding myself back for a year-and-a-half, which is the first time in my 26-year career.
“The second step is the consequences. When I win this fight, I will help (Joshua) come back.
“In the third step, I need to have some way to get in shape. So I will have sparring partners: My direct competitors that want to knock me out in sparring sessions.
“We’re (me and Joshua) probably going to look at the same guys, because we’re the same size. So those sparring partners will definitely help me get something back.
“The fourth step, standing in the middle of this stadium, holding those belts in my hands to all the fans. I’m imagining it.
“Fifth, the final step, which is very important to me, is I am obsessed with my goal to become champion.”
Klitschko caused intrigue by stressing the fight’s significance despite others against David Haye and Alexander Povetkin being similarly big.
The bout will come at the end of Klitschko’s first major career break — he will have spent almost 18 months out of the ring, a consequence of the collapse of his proposed rematch with Fury.
“By the time we’re in the ring, I’ll be 41,” said the Ukrainian. “A year-and-a-half break, it’s good.
“I remember right now, the words of (late trainer) Emanuel Steward.
“He always said to me: ‘Wladimir, your signature fight will come; we don’t know when it’s going to happen’, but this man is so right.
“We are so even in this fight. It’s 50-50: our size, our strength. The youth and age, it’s just a number. We’re both Olympic champions. I don’t know the next time such a fight could happen in the heavyweight division.
“I’ve been fighting Olympic champions in the past — Povetkin and Ray Mercer — I truly believe he is one of the best heavyweights right now.”
Despite facing the vastly experienced Klitschko in only his 19th professional fight and having never previously gone beyond seven rounds, Joshua insists the “timing is right” for him to take such a step up.
He is more athletic and powerful but less cultured than Fury, who outboxed Klitschko last year, and perhaps for that reason has no desire to implement similar tactics. “The timing’s right,” Joshua said. “A year ago I was asked this question: ‘Give me another year’, and now we’re in the present.
“These fights can change the way people view you. It’s about beating the right people to go down in history. (I can become) a legend overnight.
“No gameplan from Tyson Fury; I can’t really take anything away from watching Klitschko perform that night.
“I definitely take inspiration from Wladimir. Boxing’s one thing, but as a man he’s definitely a good man. I’m going to prepare for a 12-round fight. That’s experience.”
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