LONDON • Wladimir Klitschko has a five-step plan which he believes will help him re-establish himself as the world's leading heavyweight boxer when he meets Anthony Joshua in his "signature" fight.
The 40-year-old hopes to regain two of the titles he lost to Briton Tyson Fury when he challenges the International Boxing Federation champion at Wembley on April 29, when the vacant World Boxing Association title will also be available.
The Ukrainian has often been dismissed as being in decline since that shock defeat last year. But he is adamant the fact that he has not fought since will be to his advantage on an occasion expected to attract a post-war British record boxing crowd of 90,000 fans.
"In the first step, my target is to become a three-time world champion," he said. "I've been holding myself back for a year and a half, which is the first time in my 26-year career.
"The second step is the consequences. When I win this fight, I will help Joshua come back. In the third step, I need to have some way to get in shape. So I will have sparring partners - my direct competitors that want to knock me out in sparring sessions.
"We're (me and Joshua) are probably going to look at the same guys, because we're the same size. So those sparring partners will definitely help me get something back.
"The fourth step, standing in the middle of this stadium, holding those belts in my hands to all the fans. I'm imagining it.
"Fifth, the final step, which is very important to me, is I am obsessed with my goal to become champion."
Klitschko caused intrigue by acknowledging the fight's significance, despite contests against David Haye, Alexander Povetkin and others in the United States being similarly important.
Joshua believes beating Klitschko would raise his status to the level of a "legend". "This is a fight that can change me from champion to legend overnight," the 27-year-old told a news conference on Wednesday to promote the bout.
"It's the fight that will get the masses out and draw massive attention and they're the type of fights that can change the way that people view you in your industry."
The 2012 Olympic super-heavyweight champion has won all of his 18 professional fights well inside the distance and stopped American Eric Molina in Manchester last Saturday in the third round. Another knockout, he said, would be the "cherry on top".
The April fight between Joshua and Klitschko, who will be 41 by then, has been officially sanctioned by the WBA for that vacant title while the Briton's IBF belt will also be on the line.
Klitschko, the 1996 Olympic super-heavyweight champion, lost the WBA, World Boxing Organisation, IBF and International Boxing Organisation belts to Joshua's countryman Fury in November last year.
Before that bout, he had not been beaten in 11 years and had a career record of 64 wins and three defeats.
Fury vacated the WBA, WBO and IBO belts in October after having his licence suspended pending investigation of anti-doping and medical issues. The 28-year-old had already been stripped of the IBF belt for not fighting a mandatory challenger.
THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS