KLITSCHKO WARNS JOSHUA: FIGHTING ME IS LIKE CLIMBING MOUNT EVEREST

There could be no more appropriate location than a mountain-top for Wladimir Klitschko to send out his message to Anthony Joshua as their momentous night in the bear-pit of heavyweight mauling draws nigh.

It is not so much a warning he roars from his camp high in the Austrian Tyrol. Rather a softly-spoken metaphor.

‘Please excuse me if this sounds arrogant,’ says Klitschko. ‘But for parallel example: Mount Everest.’

That is how the Ukrainian giant who was king of boxing’s heavyweight mountain for ten years views himself as Joshua, the young British lion, prepares for his attempt to scale greatness on April 29.

‘The highest mountain in the world,’ Klitschko continues the analogy. ‘It’s been there a long time and will be there for a long time to come.

‘It can be climbed during a certain period of the year. Two weeks in April. If you get to the top you can say ‘’I conquered Everest’’ but then you have to run down because the mountain can still take you if you miss the time.

‘A lot die there. Some make it back but is Everest defeated? No. It’s still there.

‘Just four men have conquered me in 68 fights. But this Mount Everest is still here and it will take another life this April.’

That, too, he is quick to point out is a metaphor. As is the dramatic illustration of the perils facing Joshua in which he brandishes first his left fist then the right saying: ‘Funeral, hospital.’

Then he adds: ‘My hands are heavy. I know it. I don’t need many punches to end a fight. Just one from either hand.’

This 6ft 6in walking Everest speaks more ominously than is his custom. But in drawing pictures with words of what he calls his ‘obsession’ with regaining the world titles unexpectedly wrested from him by Tyson Fury he also softens the image.

Of the 14-years age difference between them which many expect to be decisive in front of a 90,000 crowd at Wembley Stadium – he is 41, Joshua 27 – Klitschko says: ~Youth v experience? I totally get Anthony Joshua. How he feels. What he sees. How he thinks. How he breathes. His instincts.


‘I told him if he wins, I will congratulate him. But when I beat him I will help him to come back, the way I have come back. I will be his mentor. Who better to learn from than a man who has experienced that what doesn’t kill makes you stronger?

‘A defeat doesn’t mean you are beaten. I have lost but I do not feel beaten. They say that if you want to destroy a man give him five years of success. I have had more than ten years of success but I am not a destroyed man.

‘I lost to Fury but I did not feel beaten. He did not beat me, I defeated myself that night. Since then it is Fury who has destroyed himself, making it impossible for us to have the rematch.’

One consequence of Fury’s descent into depression and drugs is that Klitschko has been kept out of the ring for more than 18 months: ‘The longest absence in my long career. Everyone is asking if I will have the rust. It is a question for which I too am interested in finding the answer on April 29,

‘But I don’t think so. Others in my position have retired. But I am still in. Enjoying it all. Still on the hamster wheel. Turning it. Spinning it at my own pace. The way I want it.

The lesson of failure has taught me how to face this athletic, strong, ambitious young man in a different way than if I our roles were reversed and I was still the champion and he the compulsory challenger. I have a totally different attitude and desire. And, yes, obsession even if you are tired of me using this word.

‘For me this fight has absolutely nothing to do with the big money. I’ve been doing this since I was 14. I consider myself an artist. Boxing is an art to me. I do it not for the finance but for the passion, the love. It is the challenge which is my obsession. Physically, at 41, I feel 27. Psychologically, I am now the ambitious challenger once again.

‘I know as champion for so many years I had slipped into the mentally of just defending, defending, defending my position. Some called my style boring but the critics never hurt me. Only fake news.

‘In Germany there is a saying: ‘’Lies have short legs.’’ So they cannot run for long. Not in politics, life or sport. Not if you suck it up and turn the negatives into positives.’

Then he shatters the philosophical mood by standing to tell the world in full voice: ‘I’ve still got it.’

Fight night, with its tension, is approaching.

The scenic resort at Stanglwirt is used for training not only human athletes. This is also where the Lipizzaner Stallions are put through their paces prior to performing at the renowned Spanish Riding School in Vienna.

Then he shatters the philosophical mood by standing to tell the world in full voice: ‘I’ve still got it.’

Fight night, with its tension, is approaching.

The scenic resort at Stanglwirt is used for training not only human athletes. This is also where the Lipizzaner Stallions are put through their paces prior to performing at the renowned Spanish Riding School in Vienna.

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