How Anthony Joshua can follow Wladimir Klitschko’s path back to heavyweight success

Klitschko’s career was revitalised after he travelled to America to work under coach Emanuel Steward

Alex Pattle
Combat Sports Correspondent
Friday 03 December 2021 12:29
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Anthony Joshua on Klitschko's retirement

Anthony Joshua can refresh his boxing career by following in the footsteps of Wladimir Klitschko, according to the Ukrainian’s former manager Bernd Bonte.

Joshua is 2-2 in his last four fights, having dropped his heavyweight titles to Andy Ruiz in June 2019 before beating the Mexican-American at the end of that year, going on to stop Kubrat Pulev in 2020 but once again losing his belts this September with a defeat by Oleksandr Usyk.

Klitschko retired in August 2017, four months after losing to Joshua to suffer back-to-back defeats for the first time in his long, storied career – having been outpointed by Tyson Fury in his previous bout.

An earlier spell in the Ukrainian’s career belied what was to come – the longest cumulative reign in world heavyweight championship history – as Klitschko was beaten by Corrie Sanders in March 2003 and Lamon Brewster in April 2004.

The latter fight marked Klitschko’s first under American trainer Emanuel Steward, and the heavyweight would then go on to win 22 fights in a row, 16 of them under Steward’s guidance until the coach became ill and died aged 68 in 2012.

It was Bonte who paired Klitschko with Steward, who encouraged his fighter to become more aggressive.

“When I called Emanuel and set up a meeting between him and Wladimir, the rest is history as we both know,” Bonte told Vegas Insider.

“With Emanuel’s support and his different tactics and his very close relationship, Wladimir came back stronger than he had ever been before.

“And after that he was undefeated for almost 10 years. ‘AJ’ can do the same.”

Anthony Joshua knocked out Wladimir Klitschko in 2017

Bonte was present at Wembley Stadium in 2017 as Joshua stopped Klitschko, now 45, and the 65-year-old believes that the Briton must adopt an aggressive approach if he is to reverse the result against Usyk in an expected rematch next year.

“AJ has to fight as the big dog, he has to,” Bonte said.

“I mean, he’s the bigger puncher, he’s taller, he’s 17 stone. He has to fight like the big dog and put pressure on Usyk.

“It’s hard because [Usyk] is a flexible, good counter-boxer, but if AJ lets his jab go and throws more combinations and more right hands and puts more pressure on him, takes a higher risk, he has a good chance to win that fight.

“He got too reluctant, and in the rematch he needs to go all in – it’s all or nothing. He has to take more risks.

“One thing is for sure: If Usyk gets into his rhythm, he’s hard to beat, so what you have to avoid is that and what you have to be is on him and to pressure him – and still it’s a very difficult fight.

“I think AJ wins that fight, the rematch. My gut feeling tells me that AJ comes back stronger and wins that fight on points or a late knockout.”

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