Truth be told, Wladimir Klitschko just did not perform very well when he lost his three heavyweight championship belts to Tyson Fury via unanimous decision in November 2015 in Germany.
Saturday, at age 41, Klitschko has the unenviable task of again trying to become champion when he challenges heavy-hitting Anthony Joshua of England for his title, with another vacant title up for grabs, at Wembley Stadium in London (on Showtime live, HBO same-day tape).
Klitshcko has been out of the ring 17 months, which would seem to reduce his chances of defeating Joshua, 27, who has knocked out all 18 of his opponents. But Klitschko (64-4, 53 KOs) wants his titles back. He seems almost haunted without them.
“The belts are very important,” Klitschko said. “I’ve been attached to these belts for a very long time. I had those belts in my past fight, and I’m fighting for these belts in this fight.
“The only difference is in my last fight they went to the opposite corner. So my goal and obsession is for those belts to land in my corner, in my hands.”
A two-time champion, Klitschko held the championship for 9 1/2 years in his second run before falling to Fury, so it’s understandable that he misses his hardware. If he gets some of it back by beating Joshua, it’ll be a fine feather in his cap.
Joshua may not have the most impressive list of opponents, but it would be difficult to find many who don’t believe that he is the real deal. At 6-foot-6, he’s as tall as Klitschko. He’s fast, he’s mean in the ring and he seems to have one goal – seek and destroy.
He’s brimming with confidence, too. That was evident when he was asked for a prediction this week during a conference call.
“I win,” Joshua said. “It’s not complicated. Let’s not overthink it. This isn’t rocket science, this is just a fight. Let’s strip it back to what it is – a young lion, ferocious, hungry, very determined.”
It’s this type of mentality that helps a champion stay a…