Former WBO, WBA and IBF world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua has named boxing legend Wladimir Klitschko as the toughest opponent he has faced in boxing.
AJ says he had a harder time fighting Klitschko than Andy Ruiz and Oleksandr Usyk, who are the only two men to beat the Olympic gold medalist.
In 2017, in front of 90,000 fans at Wembley and millions of viewers around the world, Joshua came off the canvas to stop two-time world champion Klitschko in the 11th round of a grueling fight.
While the clash is certainly the most memorable of Joshua’s career, the 32-year-old insists the Ukrainian is also the toughest opponent he has faced to date.
“The toughest opponent I’ve come across would be Wladimir Klitschko, without a doubt,” Joshua said, speaking outside the Oxford Union.
“It’s the passage of the guard. The young lion against the old lion. By the time I fought him I think it was definitely too soon, but I fought him in his last fight and if I hadn’t fought him it would have been too late.
“So it was risk versus reward, and I thought boxing needed that.”
Joshua beat Klitschko in what was only his 19th professional fight and believes his inexperience made the fight much more difficult.
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“Sometimes due to a lack of experience we make it harder than necessary, but he’s had more knockouts on his record than I have fights and knockouts combined,” he said. .
“The guy is like very experienced, very, very strong and he gave me a tough fight.
“Before this stage I was knocking guys out in six or seven rounds, Wladimir took me 11 rounds, somewhere I’ve never been before. Yeah he was my toughest [opponent] for sure.”
Since then, Joshua suffered a seventh-round TKO loss at the hands of Andy Ruiz, before avenging his first professional loss with a unanimous decision win in an immediate rematch.
Last time out, the British heavyweight was edged out by former heavyweight king Usyk by 12 rounds. Joshua will get his chance at redemption in the pair’s rematch in the Middle East in July.
Klitschko walked away from boxing after his loss to Joshua but recently revealed he planned to return until war broke out between his native Ukraine and Russia.
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