There’s a heavyweight world championship fight Saturday. Does that sentence get you excited, fight fans?
The world used to stop when two giants would clash in the ring for a belt. But that hasn’t been the case in the past 15 years.
Anthony Joshua’s IBF title defense against the former kingpin of the division, Wladimir Klitschko, is generating the most hype for a heavyweight bout since Mike Tyson faced Lennox Lewis in 2002.
The jury is still out if American fight fans will tune in Saturday, but there’s no doubt the United Kingdom is buzzing to see rising star Joshua attempt to win the biggest bout of his young career. More than 90,000 are expected to pack Wembley Stadium in London.
“For what UK-ers are doing supporting boxing globally, it’s massive,” said Joshua, who won a gold medal for England in the 2012 Olympics. “I also feel just to sell out the stadium without having to do the traditional entertainment to make a fight, it just shows that kids can fight from different backgrounds.
“It’s an amazing time for boxing in that sense that it’s mainstream. I’m not going to say win or lose, because the focus is to win, but it’s a massive benefit to Klitschko win or lose. Either he has another fight in him, or this time he’s done.”
HBO and Showtime fought until the end for the right to televise the fight in the U.S. The two biggest boxing networks came to an agreement. Showtime will air the bout live at 1:15 p.m., and HBO will show it on same-day tape delay at 8.
Showtime has been aggressive with marketing the fight by having commercials during the NBA playoffs and NFL draft.
Joshua (18-0, 18 knockouts) could become a crossover star with an impressive victory over Klitschko (64-4, 53 KOs), who was undefeated for more than a decade before losing to Tyson Fury in 2015. Joshua is a minus-260 favorite and Klitschko is plus-220, according to VegasInsider.com.
This is a big step up for the 27-year-old Englishman. Joshua has dominated his 18 opponents with his power, but he’s never faced a skilled boxer like Klitschko, 41, who can punch just as hard as Joshua.
Deontay Wilder, the American with the WBC strap, will be in attendance for the fight and hopefully lure the winner for a unification bout.
“I love this fight for these guys,” Wilder said. “I love it for the sport of boxing. The fans seem to be well in tune with it, and I think this is a super fight for the heavyweight division.”
Local fight at Sam’s Town
Las Vegas fighters Ladarius Miller and Jesus Gutierrez will clash on the Premier Boxing Champions undercard Saturday at Sam’s Town.
The junior welterweight bout is scheduled to be televised at 5:30 p.m. on FS2 and Fox Deportes. The main card headlined between Carlos Zambrano and Claudio Marrero will air on FS1 at 7.
Miller (12-1, 3 knockouts) moved to Las Vegas from Memphis, Tennessee, five years ago when he was still an amateur boxer. The 23-year-old is signed with Mayweather Promotions.
Gutierrez (14-1-1, 4 KOs) has fought 15 of 16 professional fights in Las Vegas.
“He likes to stay in the center and trade, but I’m not going to say he’s not a good fighter, but he is one dimensional,” Miller said. “I’m the better fighter. This is something that has been in the making for a long time. I’m ready to see him Saturday.”
Tickets start at $25 and can be purchased at samstownlv.com. The first fight starts at 3 p.m.
The third annual Box Fan Expo takes place May 6 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Former boxers Thomas Hearns and Marco Antonio Barrera, current fighters Jorge Linares and Jessie Vargas, and many other boxing figures will be in attendance to meet fans from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tickets start at $30 and can be purchased at boxfanexpo.com.
Contact Gilbert Manzano at email@example.com or 702-383-0492. Follow @gmanzano24 on Twitter.
Saturday: Carlos Zambrano vs. Claudio Marrero, 7 p.m., FS1/Fox Deportes, Sam’s Town
Friday: Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN, 4 p.m., ESPN Deportes/ESPN2, MGM Grand Garden Arena
May 6: Saul “Canelo” Alvarez vs. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., 6 p.m., HBO PPV, T-Mobile Arena
June 17: Andre Ward vs. Sergey Kovalev, 6 p.m., HBO PPV, Mandalay Bay Events Center