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Wladimir Klitschko: ‘I am a free man’ as challenger to Joshua

Wladimir Klitschko is no longer the king of the heavyweights, and he says that has relieved him.

Anthony Joshua v Wladimir Klitschko Media Work Outs Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images
Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Wladimir Klitschko is 41 years old and the official betting underdog for Saturday’s fight with unbeaten power puncher Anthony Joshua, but says that now that he’s challenging instead of defending, he feels like “a free man,” and considers this to be his “signature fight.”

Here’s what Klitschko told ESPN, in what may be the most colorful quote of his career:

"This is my chance, my opportunity, my obsession. It's my signature fight. I have a chance to fight myself to heaven. How is it not [a signature fight]? I am a lucky motherfucker to get the opportunity to fight on the biggest stage of my career and with attention I never ever had before. ... I don't have the pressure of defending, defending, defending and trying to break Joe Louis' records anymore. I am a free man. ... I now have freedom in my mind, body and soul and I love it. I don't have this pressure anymore. I was like hamster in the hamster wheel -- defending, defending, defending. Now I am out of that wheel.”

The fight has already broken records at Wembley Stadium, and a big performance from Klitschko would, in fact, probably solidify his legacy — not that it really needs a lot more added to it, but it would be a big addition.

Klitschko (64-4, 53 KO), who hasn’t fought since late 2015, is listed as a +200 underdog by Bovada, with Joshua (18-0, 18 KO) at -260.

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