The world heavyweight rivals have put the pre-fight behaviour of David Haye and Co to shame with their dignified build-up
ANTHONY JOSHUA and Wladimir Klitschko are dragging boxing out of the gutter to restore some dignity to the noble art.
The heavyweight rivals have refused to indulge in trash-talking in the build-up to Saturday’s world title fight at Wembley Stadium.
Their respectful approach is in sharp contrast to the exchange of insults between David Haye and Tony Bellew before their grudge match.
Nor has there been any repeat of the crazy stunts which Tyson Fury relied on to sour Klitschko’s last big fight almost 18 months ago.
Klitschko said: “The way this fight is being promoted is a great message for the sport.
“When you compare it to many other big fights, it has never been done this way before.
“We have filled a 90,000 stadium and I am told we could have sold it three times over, without really having to say too much.
“We didn’t use the ‘F’ word. We have not been throwing tables and getting glasses down on the head. There have been no offensive T-shirts.
“That absolutely doesn’t do any good for the image of the sport.
“We live in a crazy world so there has to be respect in such a violent sport as boxing. That is what AJ and myself have showed each other.
“The attitude and respect we have shown to each other is being passed down to all the other young men down there in the gyms.”
Klitschko, 41, is still appalled by the memory of Fury’s antics before the British bruiser’s shock win in Dusseldorf.
He added: “Fury’s behaviour before that fight was embarrassing. A lot of the messages he gave out were wrong for society, sport and for the kids.
“You are on a high stage when you are fighting for the heavyweight championship of the world. A lot of people are listening to you and things they heard were not good.
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“I am thankful to boxing for where I am today. That is why I am so proud for AJ and myself to be the representatives of the sport.”
His brother Vitali retired as WBC heavyweight champion at 41 in 2012 but Wladimir insists he has no intention of following his lead.
He refuses to confirm if he has a clause for a rematch in his £30m contract with Joshua but admitted: “Hopefully I have a couple more years in me.
“I have never said this is going to be my last fight but over the years I have prepared for every fight as though it is going to be my last.
“Joshua has been promising to knock me out so I just wish him good luck with that.”