WHILE Anthony Joshua will face Wladimir Klitschko in an international press conference in Cologne, Germany today, their final meeting ahead of fight week in April, the IBF heavyweight champion’s training camp has begun in earnest. Having carried out conditioning work ahead of time, he is conducting a full 12-week training camp.

“He’s just starting off,” trainer Rob McCracken tells Boxing News. “Training’s always serious, it’s just what workload you’re on and what phase you’re in. He’s in the phase of just getting himself back going, just like a general phase, doing the basics, getting everything in place for the hard work that’s to come in the next few weeks. He’ll be in shape for the contest and he’s looking forward to it.”

“He’s very disciplined and dedicated,” Rob continued. “He’s looking forward to it. He’s young, he’s fresh, he’s sharp, he’s powerful. He’s intending to defend his title and be successful.

“He’s achieved great things in boxing, he wants to achieve more so it’s going to be really interesting and be fascinating to be part of it and see how it all unfolds. But AJ will be in great shape on the night and he’s looking to defend that title.”

Frazer Clarke, an elite GB super-heavyweight and one of Joshua’s sparring partners, can attest to that. “It started last week, just slowly starting a bit of technical stuff. Picked up again this week,” Clarke told Boxing News. “It could be four [rounds sparring], sometimes it can be five or six. We rotate. I don’t really need to be doing 10 round spars yet. We do some technical 10 rounds and stuff like, just working on defence and stuff like that. Maximum six, five while the WSB’s on, between five and six rounds.”

“He is pleasure to work with,” Frazer continued. “We work together, we work on things. He pushes me, I push him and there’s no better sparring for me. I can go and box anyone in the world after sparring Joshua and be confident in myself.”

Clarke doesn’t necessarily try to replicate Wladimir Klitschko in these sessions but Frazer is a tall, technically gifted boxer. “I just focus on my own game. He’ll probably bring in some other guys who’ll maybe imitate [Klitschko] a bit more. I do try the odd thing to help him out, but I’m in there to benefit me and give him that sharp sparring, which maybe these pros won’t give him,” Clarke said. “The stuff that’s coming at him is very similar to stuff from Klitschko. Klitschko will be long, he’ll be straight, throw the odd bent arm shot and that’s the way I box. I think I do it a lot more fluently than Klitschko does. But it’s good work for me.”

“The first week is nothing heavy. It’s a long 12 weeks for him and he goes through some proper physical work. It’s a lot on his body. It’s a lot of technical stuff, working on defence, working on movement,” he says, but assures, “It will pick up and will get intense. I will have my bruises and war wounds. He will have his bruises and stuff. But in 11 week’s time you will see an absolute animal.”