LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s IBF world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua believes beating Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley stadium in April would raise his status to the level of a “legend”.
“This is a fight that can change (me) from champion to legend overnight,” he told a news conference on Wednesday to promote the April 29 bout.
“It’s the fight that will get the masses out and draw massive attention and they’re the type of fights that can change the way that people view you in your industry,” added the 27-year-old.
The 2012 Olympic super-heavyweight champion has won all of his 18 professional fights well inside the distance and stopped American Eric Molina in Manchester last Saturday in the third round.
Another knockout, he said, would be the “cherry on top”.The April fight between Joshua and the Ukrainian former champion, who will be 41 by then, has been officially sanctioned by the WBA for that vacant title while the Briton’s IBF belt will also be on the line.
Klitschko lost the WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO belts to Britain’s Tyson Fury in November 2015. Before that bout, he had not been beaten in 11 years and had a career record of 64 wins and three defeats.
Fury vacated the WBA, WBO and IBO belts last October after having his license suspended pending investigation of anti-doping and medical issues.
He had already been stripped of the IBF belt for not fighting a mandatory challenger.
Klitschko, who was ringside for the Molina fight in Manchester, has said he is “obsessed” with getting the belts back and had been training hard in the past year for fights that never happened.
He recognized his last fight against Fury had not been good but said the break of nearly a year and a half could work in his favor.
“My motivation is as high as the sky,” said the Ukrainian. “I have to wake up. It was just a wake-up call before the big event. This is definitely a signature fight for Anthony and myself.
“If Anthony wins this fight, I will congratulate him,” he said. “When I win this fight, I will help him to come back.”
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis)