Wladimir Klitschko believes the manner in which he and Anthony Joshua have conducted themselves in the build-up to their heavyweight fight at Wembley on Saturday has presented a “great message” about boxing and is in contrast to the way Tyson Fury and David Haye, two of his former opponents, have behaved when promoting fights.
It is a little over four months since Klitschko and Joshua announced their fight and the interim has seen very little of the usual trash talking. The ugliest it has got was arguably earlier this month when Klitschko claimed Joshua, the IBF champion, took confidence from his “big muscles” and was more suited to bodybuilding than boxing. Otherwise the two men have been respectful of each other and vowed to maintain that in the remaining days before they meet at the national stadium.
“It’s a great message, the way the fight is being promoted,” said Klitschko. “If we compare it to many other big fights, it was never done this way. To fill out a 90,000 stadium... I heard we could have sold it three times. And we really didn’t do too much.
“And we didn’t use the F-word. We were not throwing tables and glasses. No T-shirts. The attitude and the respect to each other is being passed down to all the other young men down there in the gyms.”
Klitschko’s reference to the “F-word”, “throwing tables and glasses” and “T-shirts” are obvious references to Fury and Haye. Fury, who stripped Klitschko of his WBA, IBF and WBO titles when he beat the 41-year-old in Düsseldorf 17 months ago, has developed a reputation for delivering controversial and shocking displays at pre-fight press conferences. In 2011, while promoting his rematch with Dereck Chisora in Manchester, he directed a foul-mouthed rant at his opponent before turning over a table and marching out of the room.
And in 2009 Haye wore a T-shirt depicting him holding the decapitated heads of Klitschko and his brother Vitaly while promoting his fight against the former in Gelsenkirchen. The two men went on to fight in Hamburg two years later with Klitschko winning via a unanimous points decision.
“We live in a crazy world, so in such a violent sport as boxing there has to be respect. Mutual respect,” said Klitschko. “That is what we [he and Joshua] have showed and I’m proud of it.”
Klitschko is aiming to become a world champion for a third time on Saturday. He goes into the fight in the rare position of being the underdog, partly because of his age – he is 14 years older than Joshua – and partly because he has not fought since his defeat to Fury, when this most assured of fighters showed uncharacteric hesitancy against a man who has subsequently had his boxing licence suspensed by the British Boxing Board of Control following a troubled period in his life.
Asked if he has learnt from the defeat, only the fourth he has suffered in a 68-fight, 27-year career as a pro, Klitschko said: “I haven’t changed my team. We were successful for a long time and we are going to show on 29 April that it was not a coincidence.
“This is an opportunity for every single member of my team to recoup and show sometime we have bumps in the road and that is OK. We have a chance to fix our mistakes.”
Sky Sports Box Office will show Joshua v Klitschko exclusively live on 29 April. To book go to www.skysports.com/joshua