Photo: Matchroom

The bookmaker had printed separate sheets for Joshua vs Klitschko bets, with my pick Klitschko by decision and instructions from my other half for a Klitschko win of any kind. She reckoned from the weigh-in face off that Joshua is too much a boy and that Klitschko had his business face on. Money had come in on the Ukrainian since printing so the odds had narrowed slightly. An elderly gambler told me we had it all wrong. “Joshua will knock him out in four,” he said as if remembering a contest he’d already seen.

There’s a unique anticipation in the air which grows as you approach Wembley Stadium for a sporting event and a crossover event like this one attracts a broad range of fan.

The t-shirt sellers advertise “half price” shirts at £10 while touts offer to buy and sell tickets. On wembley way, a small group of Ukrainians collect for the ‘British Ukrainian aid’ charity. I’m still unsure if this was an inspired or ridiculous location to make their collections.

Photo: Matchroom

Our seats were far better than expected, on a lower tier with a good view of the action and close to the raised stage at which sky pundits watched and broadcast. A similar stage was set up for the US Showtime team to our right.

The sound system, it goes without saying, is awesome. Short videos shown to the crowd before the main event were superbly put together, but as casual voices waxed lyrical about the power of Joshua, I was struck by just how poor some of the victims being swatted around were in comparison to the formidable opponent waiting tonight.

Attending with the other half which brings a fresh and innocent perspective which can provide questions I can’t always answer. “Why do they box at night?” she asks.  Opinions are based on simpler and perhaps more valid analysis than those of us who watch hours of footage.

Photo: Esther Lin

A poor undercard finishes (or in some cases is cancelled) and Wembley falls dark. Inevitably, “Sweet Caroline” plays as MC Michael Buffer entered the ring. There were some educated voices in the crowd, one of whom informs a friend that Joseph Parker was WBO champion.

Entrances can provide a statement of intent and Wladimir’s was single-minded and purposeful. The red of his championship days was shed, apart from the familiar red hot chilli peppers music. There was little doubt Klitschko had come to reclaim his property.

If Wladimir was no-nonsense, Joshua was introduced like a music artist, with a ramp and flashing ‘AJ’ lights which brought to mind those designed for Frank Bruno for his 1995 title fight at the old Wembley Stadium. Notorious B.I.G can make a for a fabulous entrance song but this version was – perhaps like Joshua himself – heavily censored, although amusingly ‘gats’ slipped through the censorship while ‘endo’ – with the smell of weed in the cool Wembley air – did not.

Photo: Esther Lin

After a brief feeling out period, the fight turned into the rare heavyweight title fight representing the sport at it’s very best: two of the biggest, baddest men on the planet baring their souls in front of a huge, enthralled audience. Both men dug into reserves we didn’t know they had until finally it was the referee who decided the depths they were willing to go to were too brutal.

Photo: Esther Lin

With ten rounds completed I had it dead even. That the young champion entered a realm – the championship rounds – in which he was a stranger and his opponent familiar with such an intensity speaks eloquently for his courage and daring. Joshua had taken some terrific blows from one of the hardest punchers in history; he’d been floored for the first time in his professional career and still  found the courage and energy to fight savagely enough to render judging redundant.

Photo: Matchroom

Consider that neither Mike Tyson or Lennox Lewis ever won a fight in which they were floored. Joshua couldn’t know if he had the stamina to bounce back from a torrid knockdown and hard middle rounds which followed but found the fight to win in highlight-reel fashion.

A year ago Joshua won a belt and to his credit refused to become carried away. On Saturday he took a huge step towards three letters much more important than those used by alphabet bodies. He took a giant stride towards being crowned “the” as in “the champion” and “the man.”


Slip & Counter was ringside to find out if “Beautiful Brutality” would live up to its heady billing..

When the middleweight crossroad match between St Helens’ Martin Murray and Philadelphia’s Gabriel Rosado was announced for the 10,000 capacity Echo arena in Liverpool, cynics wondered if the show title was tagged with the same “Beautiful Brutality” title of Sky Sports’ Head of Boxing Adam Smith’s 2012 book in order to have it signed off as a main event.


HBO and Showtime to broadcast Joshua vs Klitschko

American Premium Television Giants SHOWTIME and HBO To Produce Separate Telecasts on Saturday, April 29 From London’s Wembley Stadium

SHOWTIME Live at 4:15 p.m. ET/1:15 p.m. PT;
HBO Telecast in Primetime at approx. 10:45 p.m. ET/PT

Matchroom Sport, Klitschko Management Group (KMG) and K2 Promotions have reached agreement with U.S. premium television giants Showtime and HBO to televise the most significant heavyweight world championship match in more than a decade. On Saturday, April 29, IBF Heavyweight World Champion Anthony Joshua will face former unified world champion Wladimir Klitschko from a sold-out Wembley Stadium Connected by EE in London.
Continue reading “HBO and Showtime to broadcast Joshua vs Klitschko”

The Third Man

Daniel Hughes takes a timely look at the third man in the ring…

“Protect yourself at all times”: the final instruction given by boxing referees the world over before fighters commence battle. Most balanced outsiders will accept that being a boxing official is not always easy. It’s not; it is a tough call.

The one punch knock-out. Wave it off; no count required. The four, six, eight, ten or even twelve round one-sided schoolings’ we’ve all witnessed. The corner get negative reviews, for we all hate a brave trainer when it’s obvious the cards will only provide one outcome. We talk about “could have”, “should have” and the referee called it a day.

Referee Richard Steele’s decision to stop the first Mike Tyson vs Donovan Ruddock bout in 1991 led to near-riot and immediate rematch. Continue reading “The Third Man”

Ringside Bits and Pieces: “A New Era”

With dust settling on last weekend’s much-trumpeted ‘A New Era’ show at the Manchester arena, Slip & Counter looked for answers to the real burning questions like how to approach a ring girl and almost reveal those elusive Boxnation subscription numbers.

After promoter Frank Warren brilliantly parked a large truck advertising this event outside a Matchroom show here two weeks previously (not one week as an otherwise excellent Paul Dempsey suggested on BT Sport) and a new TV partner to impress, there was plenty of attention paid to the size of the crowd here. Proximity to the aforementioned Linares vs Crolla II show and a clash-of-sorts with the Grand National are likely to have impacted ticket sales. As it happened and to paraphrase Shoeless Joe Jackson from “Field of Dreams”: “if you build a good card, they will come”. The top tier wasn’t opened at all, but most of the lower section was full when busiest, although some level of ticket giveaways was evident from a line at the “comp” counter.

Continue reading “Ringside Bits and Pieces: “A New Era””


Daniel Hughes pays tribute to the domestic journeyman boxer with a portrait of the human story behind the name listed on the right hand side of the bill.

In from work and another day is done. Working in a factory, building site or mini-cab may be a full-time profession, but you’re a part-time boxer also. You put your feet up and the missus has dinner ready. You should go to the gym tonight to keep yourself ticking over. Failing that, how about a five mile slow jog to keep the pounds off? But you’re tired.

‘Go tomorrow.’ You tell yourself that at 37-years-old you know how to manage your body. Your body knows how to manage you: backache, sore knee and a few random headaches plus that hand you injured many years ago nags away.

Continue reading “WAITING ON A CALL”