The big night is upon us. Wladimir Klitschko (64-4, 53 KO’s), former longtime lineal champion and the world’s most dominant heavyweight for the better part of a decade, meets British heavyweight contender and onetime gold medalist, Anthony Joshua (18-0, 18 KO’s), in what feels like a passing-of-the-torch moment.
Maybe it won’t be. Klitschko has come thoroughly prepared and has looked sharp in training, and he possesses one-punch knockout power. Can the experienced veteran pull it off? The prospect of an upset seems to motivate “Dr. Steelhammer”.
Joshua, too, looks in phenomenal condition, appearing Adonis-like at 250 pounds at the weigh-in. His youth, speed and strength will make him a favorite here, as he gets a -260 lift (Klitschko is at +200) going into Saturday.
The magnitude of the contest is remarkable. 90,000 are expected to pack Wembley Stadium in bated anticipation for the main event between two giants. We can only hope that the contest lives up to this billing, though it must be said that a real barn-burner of a contest hasn’t been seen at this level, in this division, maybe since former British champion Lennox Lewis had it out with Wladimir’s brother, Vitali.
The undercard sports some names those over the pond should be familiar with, like Scott Quigg, Luke Campbell (16-1, 13 KO’s) and Katie Taylor (4-0, 2 KO’s). The latter were gold medal wearers in the Olympics and both are inching their way to donning it in the paid ranks.
Campbell, a well-schooled southpaw who contests at lightweight, faces Darleys Perez (33-2-2, 21 KO’s), a man who was stopped by fellow countryman Anthony Crolla in five not long ago. “Coolhand’s” chances to replicate that result look pretty good, seeing as his power, technique and size are all superior to Crolla’s.
The Irishwoman shouldn’t have too much to worry about. Taylor’s opponent, a German named Nina Meinke (5-0, 2 KO’s), lacks her ability and her lengthy amateur background.
Quigg (32-1-2, 24 KO’s) might see stiffer resistance, facing another former Olympian (2004), Viorel Simion (21-1, 9 KO’s). The Romanian Simion is tricky and gave Lee Selby a solid run for his money.
Tevin Farmer (24-4-1, 5 KO’s) stays busy against Arturo Santos Reyes (19-7, 5 KO’s) at the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Donnie Nietes (39-1-4, 22 KO’s) continues his trek upward towards the elite at 112. He will be paired with Thailand-native, Komgrich Nantapech (22-3, 15 KO’s).
Mark “Magnifico” Magsayo (15-0, 11 KO’s) is one of many quality youngsters cropping up in the Philippines. At only 21 he has lots of time to develop but wants the quick road to stardom. His two-fisted attack may one day get him there, but his defense needs improvement before he enters the company of top featherweights.
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