MANCHESTER—Anthony Joshua says the size of the occasion will not get to him when he takes on Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley on April 29 in “the biggest fight in British boxing history”.
The Briton quickly disposed of American Eric Molina in a third round stoppage win on Saturday and his next title defence against Klitschko was then immediately announced from the ring.
Joshua, 27, made a second defence of his IBF world heavyweight title against Molina, who he floored in the third round with a crunching right to the jaw before forcing the stoppage after the American got up from a count.
The WBA version of the world title is also expected to be on the line against Ukrainian Klitschko, who ruled for nine-and-a-half years until losing the IBF, WBA and WBO belts on points to Briton Tyson Fury a year ago.
Promoter Eddie Hearn hopes a record-breaking 90,000 fans will be inside Wembley to see the fight, and Joshua—the 2012 Olympic gold medallist—said: “That’s definitely one to get excited for.”
“I just wanted to focus on this fight with Molina but to see Klitschko here tonight makes it real,” he told a post fight press conference.
“It doesn’t matter whether it’s 90,000 or nine people, it’s the same regulations and rules and it’s to win.
“I’m going to box Klitschko for 12 rounds, make him miss and make him pay, and if the knockout comes I will be able to say I did something no one else did.
“But I’m not going in there to say I’m going to knock Klitschko out in two rounds. It is the perfect time for me to move up another step and contest my heavyweight championship belt against one of the legends of our sport.”
Joshua’s sixth professional fight—all 83 seconds of it—took place at Wembley Stadium on the undercard of Carl Froch-George Groves, but most of the 80,000 had not arrived by the time he was in action early in the evening.
The rematch between Froch and Groves attracted Britain’s biggest attendance for a boxing event since the Second World War but Hearn hopes Joshua-Klitschko sets a new record.
They will meet on Wednesday to publicise the event and Hearn hopes to extend the capacity.
“We’re looking to go to 90,000, we need to speak to the mayor of London Mr [Sadiq] Khan about transport around the venue,” Hearn told reporters.
“Every time he [Joshua] fights he could do 30,000 so I’m confident we will do that lot. They are at different stages of their careers: the hottest prospect in boxing against a legend. It’s the biggest fight in British boxing history.”
Joshua, who sparred with Klitschko early in his professional career, does not see beating Klitschko as being the defining moment of his career after registering his 18th consecutive knockout from as many professional fights.
“It’s just another fight, man. You can’t build yourself up and get carried away. If I beat Klitschko, they will say you’ve got to beat David Haye now, or Luis Ortiz,” Joshua said.
“In order to beat Klitschko I need to go to another level.”
Klitschko, who will be 41 in March, has more experience of the big stage and despite his age and inactivity - he will have been out of the ring 17 months - Joshua says he is still dangerous.
“I’ve fought no one like Klitschko, that’s what makes it interesting,” said Joshua.
“He’s a sharp opponent for sure. Look at Bernard Hopkins, he’s 52 next month and he’s fighting next weekend, so you can’t write him off. That’s what good living and lifestyle can do for you.
“It’s risk versus reward. People wouldn’t call my name out if there was as much money on the table as there is.
“There’s money and titles on the line. All he has to do is get in the ring and he’s hit the jackpot, one way or another.
“I don’t think he needs the dough but everyone needs an extra few quid. How long is he going to be around for? This is his last hurrah.”