AFP Photo/John MacDougall
Britain’s heavyweight world champion Anthony Joshua’s mouthwatering bout with legendary Ukrainian Wladimir Klitschko for the IBF and WBA crowns will be attended by 90,000 spectators equalling the record for a British fight.
The London showdown will break the post-war British record for attendance at a boxing match for the rematch between British pugilist Carl Froch and American challenger George Groves for the former’s WBA and IBF super-middleweight titles at Wembley in 2014 which attracted a crowd of 80,000.
That record for Wembley has been broken because London Mayor Sadiq Khan responded to demand from the boxing world and enlarged the capacity permitted to attend to 90,000.
It equals the British record of 90,000 when Len Harvey fought Jock McAvoy for the world light heavyweight title at White City in London in 1939 which the former won.
Khan, who has been at pains since the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union last year to say London is open for business, said he was counting the days to the bout between 2012 Olympic champion Joshua, 27, and Klitschko, who will be 41 by the the time the clash takes place.
“I can’t wait to see the fight of the year here in London and it’s fantastic that a post-war record crowd will get to watch it at a world-class venue like Wembley,” said Khan, who in a rare moment of good news for the opposition Labour Party since the 2015 General Election beat Conservative candidate Zach Goldsmith in the mayoral race.
Promoter Eddie Hearn said he was delighted to have delivered to Khan what he had asked for last year.
“At the boxing writers’ dinner last year, Sadiq urged me to bring the biggest fights possible to the city and I’m delighted to have the biggest fight in British boxing history,” said Hearn.
Joshua has said if he beats Klitschko it would elevate him to legend status.
“This is a fight that can change one from champion to legend overnight,” Joshua opined at the remarkably cordial and respectful joint press conference in December.
Despite his age Klitschko said he stayed in the sport since losing his WBA, IBF and WBO belts in a surprise defeat by troubled British pugilist Tyson Fury in November 2015 expressly to regain his titles.