Wladimir Klitschko claimed not to be Nostradamus – no revelation there – but on a day when a boxing press conference was fettered not by expletives or threats but by the gentle ripple of applause more in keeping with Lord's Cricket Ground, a USB stick pulled from the Ukrainian’s pocket was the greatest source of animosity between Saturday night’s heavyweight protagonists.
Klitschko, claiming he was the boxer and Joshua just a puncher, revealed he had recorded a video message of how he would win at Wembley Stadium and the highest bidder for it – he has placed the footage on the USB stick – would raise money for a charity he supports.
Mind games from the old champion. But significant ? Not according to Anthony Joshua, who laughed the stunt off with such derision in a private conversation with journalists soon afterwards. It provided insight to the British fighter’s mindset ahead of his defence of the world title the 27-year-old won 12 months ago: respect for a great champion in public; desperate to destroy the 41-year-old at the first bell.
It has been unusual to witness a major heavyweight fight, which will be televised in over 140 countries, espouse the kind of respect more in keeping with the rivalry you might see on University Challenge. But the two men are a little different away from the cameras. Joshua more so.
“I know what he’s going to do and how the fight is going to go,” reckoned Klitschko, at Sky’s headquarters in West London. “I recorded my prediction of the fight on a USB stick last week. No one will know the prediction on this USB stick except the person who buys it. I will donate all the money from this to the Klitschko Foundation for the kids to support education.”
Ripples of applause from hundreds of Sky staff in attendance. “I’m not a Nostradamus but these feelings I have about this fight. It is not a mind game. He’s a puncher and I am a boxer that can punch. I am the man. This is my event and I am the winner already before the fight. This is my event, even if this arena is his home. The majority of the fans will be his but I am taking this fight as my event. This is my night, my fight, it’s my ring and my win.”
Joshua responded with spite, once the cameras had gone. “The memory stick? It took me back to the time I fought Kevin Johnson. He was saying he’d written a book telling the world how to beat me, that he had the antidote. I was thinking, ‘Has he actually written a book?’ When [Klitschko] said it, I thought, ‘Aw, luckily, I’ve heard this before.’ It’s strategy, isn’t it? I’m just focusing on the fight. I’m not downloading no USB, bringing that to press conferences. I didn’t really take it the way he was hoping. It was an attempt at mind games.”
“This isn’t even the defining fight of my career,” laughed Joshua. “When he gets beat, that could be the end of him. I’ve always said if you’re in a room with naked people, you end up being naked yourself. He thinks it’s about him? Liar. It takes two to tango.”
And the global reach of this heavyweight dance has achieved “unprecedented levels”, according to promoter Eddie Hearn. The Ukrainian’s management team has also revealed that the former world No 1 “has never been in a fight with so much interest” in his 68-contest career. The 90,000 sell-out crowd breaks the post-war British record for boxing, while for only the third time rival American television networks HBO and Showtime have bought into the same bout.
What, then, if Klitschko tries his ‘jab and grab’, tying-up tactics, Joshua was asked? “If he does that, he’s walking into my hands, it’s easy then. For me it’s just another day.”
“Trust me,” assured Joshua. “You guys will soon forget about this fight. People move on. It’s a military mindset. I’m a fighter. I didn’t grow up on the entertainment side. Go for the throat. When you win, you get up and fight again. Don’t think about the last fight. You crack on. Military mindset. This isn’t war though, this is fun for me.”
USB stick explained
Ok, for those like me who didn't get the USB thing (I think I called it a dongle earlier), here's the explanation. Klitschko has recorded his fight prediction on a memory stick which will be in his fight robe. This will be sold off at auction and the money will go to charity. So when he said only the winner will know the answer, he meant the auction winner who will be the only person who can look at the recording.
Klitschko is asked if there is any truth to the rumour that he is carrying an eye-socket injury. Top class response!
"What will defeat mean?"
A Ukranian journalist has asked the two what defeat would mean. Joshua: "I can't answer that."
Klitschko has done his homework
So it seems Klitschko went to watch Joshua train "with a steely focus" but Joshua didn't bother with Klitschko's session. Could that be a big a mistake?
"No swearing, no throwing punches or bottles or chairs.. and I love it."
It might be just us, or does all this calmness seem to be playing right into Klitschko's hands? Tyson Fury unsettled him with his weirdness. Joshua needs to summon his inner weird.
"I have never underestimated an opponent. Through mistakes I have learned.
"It is just me and the man coming to blows and the best man will win.
"April 29 is just another stepping stone to greatness."
Both are keeping it very cool. Both very respectful. It's almost as though they're competing for a Mr Nice Guy competition rather than a world heavyweight fight.
"Good day ladies and gentlemen. It is an amazing crowd here...
"Joshua is the same age as years I have been in boxing. 27. That is an amazing fact.
"I feel young again. I feel hungry and want to raise my hands again as a winner.
"I'm not Nostradamus..." Ok, sort of lost track a bit now, Klitschko has just pulled out a dongle and he's saying that only the winner can look at it. Ummmmm, confused.
Johnathon Banks (Klitschko's trainer)...
A man of very few words. "Let's get it on."
Bernd Boente (Klitschko's manager)...
Klitschko's manager just tried to crack a joke. At least we think it was a joke. Either way, nobody got it.
Eddie Hearn (fight promoter)...
"As we can see by the attendance here, it is fair to say this will be one hell of a fight.
"So many international broadcasters - RTL, Showtime and HBO - how many times have we seen rival broadcasters of this magnitude all show the same fight at the same time? Very rarely.
"Wladimir Klitschko has the bit between his teeth and Anthony Joshua, what a story. We must not forget what the sport of boxing has done for Anthony Joshua, how it has changed the direction of this life.
"On Saturday night the answer will unfold right before our eyes. Is it too early, is it too late, has he got it in him?"
The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat
90,000 people will be gripped at Wembley Stadium to see who prevails in this glamorous heavyweight contest. Sky's boxing chief is really selling this battle as he lays the floor for the two big men.
Here comes...... AJ
And here we go...
MC Michael Buffer has the mic, as he introduces Dr Steelhammer himself... Wladimir Klitschkoooooooooooo
Telegraph in position
There's our man, Gareth A Davies (far left), sorting his neck out, looking sharp, primed and ready for action
We're already 15 minutes overdue but who will be brave enough to give Joshua and Klitschko the hurry-up?
A packed house
Looks like everyone at Sky Central has stopped work to watch this presser...
Gareth A Davies on...
AJ is in the building
Here are shots of Joshua arriving...
Check out this WBA belt, it's got Klitschko and Joshua on it
"A wooden chair please"
Both fighters have arrived at Sky HQ (otherwise known as Skyberia) and apparently Klitschko requested, alongside the standard furnishings in his private room, just one thing - a plain wooden chair. Why? Who knows. We will hopefully find out shortly.
Wladimir Klitschko has arrived
Here's the giant Ukranian entering the building...
The most brutal weapon in sport
If ever proof were needed of the devastating power of a heavyweight punch, Matt Legg's memory of his 90 seconds in the ring with Anthony Joshua provides it.
“I got a broken eye socket. When I tried to get up I couldn't even see,”Legg recalled. “I had three months of nerve damage in the side of my face. For two months I had no feeling, it was numb.”
A giant match-up
How big does it get?
Joshua-Klitschko fight preview
Wladimir Klitschko dismissed suggestions he deliberately delayed Anthony Joshua's public workout in an attempt to get under his opponent's skin.
The two heavyweights' latest attempts to promote Saturday's fight at Wembley took place in the shadow of the national stadium, at Wembley Arena.
They are expected to attract a crowd of 90,000, a post-war record for a fight in the UK, and on an evening which could define both fighters' careers Klitschko will provide Joshua with his biggest test.
The 41-year-old appears to have attempted to soften the edge Joshua possesses in the build-up to this fight by consistently being respectful of the IBF champion.
He represents a significant step up in class for Joshua, whose temperament could be tested if Klitschko leans on him throughout Saturday's fight and repeatedly ties him up in the same way he has so many others.
Klitschko's slow progress throughout his workout - in which he spent a significant amount of time getting his hands wrapped in the ring, which in theory could have been done privately - delayed Joshua's by 30 minutes.
However, asked if that had been deliberate, the Ukrainian responded: "No, that's not a mind game. I'm here, I'm ready to fight.
"You will see a Klitschko who's enjoying himself (on Saturday). I'm really enjoying myself right now, this event, and I can't wait for Saturday night.
"It's Klitschko territory from the beginning (of the fight, not just the second half)."
Asked how he wanted the appointed referee, David Fields of America, to oversee the fight - Klitschko has repeatedly benefited from lenient officials - he said: "I respect the referee's job, but he's not present for me in a certain way.
"He needs to keep up with the rules, but I'm just focused on my opponent and the fight."
Joshua again insisted the respect he has for Klitschko would not undermine him when the two finally enter the ring at Wembley, and said he had "victory written all over me".
"The respect will go out the window," said the 27-year-old, who also fights to win the WBA title last held by Tyson Fury. "It's a fight, right?
"Strip all that stuff away - age, experience, Wladimir's this, AJ's that - I'm not really interested in what he's got to offer. Victory's written all over me right now: I feel great, I feel focused.
"Of course (I've got to go for him from the first bell). I wouldn't train the way I train if I didn't have that mindset. That's what fighting's about."