• Heavyweight

Wladimir Klitschko has high praise for Anthony Joshua

Dan Rafael
November 7, 2014
Heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko has been impressed by unbeaten prospect Anthony Joshua © Getty Images

Heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko knows a thing or two about boxing. After all, he has been champion for more than eight years and has made 16 defenses against all comers.

So when he says he believes that England's Anthony Joshua, the 2012 Olympic super heavyweight gold medalist, is the potential future of the division, it's worth taking note.

"If he is going to keep doing what he is doing, he will be champion for sure," Klitschko said of Joshua in an interview with ESPN from the champion's training camp in the mountains of Austria.

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Klitschko is preparing for title defence No. 17 against Kubrat Pulev on November 15 at the O2 World arena in Hamburg, Germany. The fight was originally scheduled for September 6 but was postponed because Klitschko suffered a tear in his left biceps.

When Klitschko was training for the initial September date, the 25-year-old Joshua spent 10 days in the camp as one of his sparring partners, and Klitschko came away very impressed with the powerful 6'6" Olympic super-heavyweight champion.

"I think he has amazing potential," said Klitschko, a 1996 Olympic gold medallist. "He needs to learn, but that will come. I think he has the size and the weight. He's built like a modern professional warrior and athlete. He has good technique and good amateur background, which is important.

"He is an Olympic champion, but he doesn't carry himself as Olympic champion like, 'I'm so cool.' He is very humble. He learns. He asks a lot of questions and he is very open-minded and wants to learn. I enjoyed having him in camp."

Klitschko said they sparred about 15 rounds together. "He did very, very good," Klitschko said.

Joshua admires what Klitschko has been able to accomplish and hopes to match what he has done.

"I felt I belonged there, but Wladimir is different to everyone else," Joshua said. "He has been the champ for years. He's in a league of his own. For me to be where Wladimir Klitschko is, there's a lot of work to be done. I can see myself potentially being there, but to own it and make it look easy, there's a little bit of work to be done.

"I feel I am talented enough to become the world champion, but to stay there for as long as he has, keep defending the titles and stay hungry for it, that's what I need to learn."

Joshua is due back in action against Michael Sprott on November 22 on the Nathan Cleverly-Tony Bellew undercard at the Echo Arena in Liverpool.

This article first appeared on ESPN.com

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