Wladimir Klitschko says Anthony Joshua should never have lost to Andy Ruiz Jr. and expects him to dominate once again at heavyweight

Wladimir Klitschko and Anthony Joshua. Photo Zenon Texeira/Opus Media/Getty Images
  • Anthony Joshua will bounce back from his defeat earlier this year and become a dominant force in the heavyweight division once again, Wladimir Klitschko said.
  • Joshua lost all his world boxing championship titles to Andy Ruiz Jr. in June but has the chance to recapture them in Saturday’s rematch, in Saudi Arabia.
  • Klitschko believes Joshua is a “complete athlete” and says he simply lost to someone he shouldn’t have.
  • Klitschko sees himself in Joshua because of this as he too lost to opponents that he shouldn’t have, but still went on to become one of the most dominant champions.
  • Now the 43-year-old believes it is Joshua’s turn.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Wladimir Klitschko says Anthony Joshua should never have lost to Andy Ruiz Jr. and expects him to dominate once again at heavyweight.

He’s the “complete athlete,” Klitschko told Business Insider recently.

Joshua, the former champion, has a shot at redemption on Saturday, December 7, as he fights Ruiz Jr. in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia, for a second time this year, having been dominated by the Mexican in a seventh-round demolition at Madison Square Garden, New York, in June.

Klitschko holds the record for the longest cumulative heavyweight title reign of all time, and sees himself in Joshua, who can get his career on track should he win his world titles back from Ruiz Jr. this weekend.

Klitschko, 43, retired in 2017 after losing to Joshua in a back-and-forth heavyweight battle for the ages at Wembley Stadium in London, finishing his career with 64 wins against five losses.

Some of those losses, Klitschko told Business Insider, should never have been. He told us he should not have lost to Corrie Sanders in 2003 or Lamon Brewster in 2004. After these defeats, he was written off and told he would never amount to anything at the elite level in the sport of boxing, he said.

But Klitschko refused to listen to the critics, to his haters, and instead bounced back by ruling the world for nine years.

Wladimir Klitschko says Anthony Joshua can dominate again at heavyweight
Klitschko had Joshua down but not out in a boxing classic. Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

He now expects Joshua to beat Ruiz Jr., an opponent he should never have lost to earlier this year, before embarking on a similar run of sustained championship excellence.

“Let me remind you of something … think back to 2004, when I fought Lamon Brewster in Vegas,” Klitschko said. “Before the fifth round, even commentators were saying Klitschko is too dominant, too good, then eventually I lost the fight after five rounds, and I was written off completely.

“If commentators and [my eventual boxing trainer] Emmanuel Steward thought they were talking and writing off [a fighter who would become] the most successful heavyweight in history, nobody would have believed them. No one! Come on. I was completely written off.

“No one thought this kid is going to be the longest-reigning heavyweight champion combined, of 12 years.”

Klitschko then pivots to Joshua. The British fighter had been built as an incredible boxing machine, one capable of wreaking havoc through the heavyweight division, and making more than a billion dollars by cracking the American market. But he then lost decisively and conclusively in his very first fight in the US.

We ran an opinion piece saying Joshua’s downfall was that he never took heed of Floyd Mayweather’s advice two years ago and that his porous defence had been threatening to cost him all along. And then it did, on the stage where it may have mattered most – proving he could be the new Mayweather, the superstar capable of carrying boxing into 2020 and beyond.

It now begs the question whether Joshua remains the fighter he was built up to be – a destroyer capable of being the face of the sport, akin to Roger Federer in tennis and Lionel Messi in soccer – or not.

Klitschko said Joshua might have been written off too early, just like he was in 2004. “I truly believe Anthony Joshua … even though he lost, I can see that in myself, losing against guys I shouldn’t lose. I believe that Anthony is a complete athlete even though he’s not champion right now.

“He can dominate the division, and he has all the capabilities.”

Klitschko criticised Fury and Wilder

When is the Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury rematch
Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

At least five good candidates are vying to be the number one champion in heavyweight boxing. There’s Joshua, Ruiz Jr., Oleksandr Usyk, Tyson Fury, and Deontay Wilder.

Klitschko sparred his countryman Usyk in several sessions throughout the year and told us, “he’s extremely technical, good eyes, and a talented boxer – period.”

On Wilder, Klitschko said the hard-hitting American, who holds the WBC championship, is “exciting, absolutely, but a little too light for a heavyweight.” He added: “He’s tall, but light at 220-pounds, I believe. He’s superb, powerful, with really fast hands.”

He criticised Fury because of an hour-long video in which The Guardian said Fury made “homophobic, sexist, and antisemitic comments.”

Klitschko said: “I didn’t like his statements about Jewish people. He was aggressive toward people with different looks, personalities. This is something that is not pleasant. To see that on video … I was totally disappointed.

“His opinion about women, who they belong to, he opened up wrong topic and saying it on camera was bothering. We have enough issues in this world to promote these ideas.”

Klitschko admires Fury’s actual boxing ability, saying, “he’s a great boxer, capable with his size, and capable of boxing,” but does not believe he has held himself as a champion should in sport.

“To pick one from that crowd, one person, because he represents the sport really well, which I love. To be a good boxer and the combination of it all, to be athletic, to have the look, to represent the sport … Anthony Joshua, to me, is one of the best out there.”

Andy Ruiz Jr. and Anthony Joshua who wins rematch
Joshua fights Andy Ruiz Jr. on Saturday. Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Klitschko, who told Business Insider about his own spectacular comeback plans in October, shortly after he had been honoured by The Buoniconti Fund as a legend in New York, finished by commenting on Ruiz Jr.

“Andy Ruiz … not to forget what this guy did, nobody could expect that. One of the best performances ever, especially as the underdog and he beats the guy.

“It’s exciting, it’s good … we have all those characters to fight each other,” he said. “But to pick one from the crowd, that’s Anthony Joshua. I believe he’s going to bounce back.”

Read more:

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