IN 2014 Don McRae interviewed Wladimir Klitschko, then the world heavyweight champion, for Boxing News. Klitschko had sparred Anthony Joshua, who now, two years on, is the IBF heavyweight titlist and is actually closing in on a fight with Wladimir Klitschko. Here is what Klitschko had this to say back then in 2014 about Anthony Joshua and what McRae wrote about the conversation:

“All those guys you mentioned [Haye, Fury, Chisora],” Klitschko says with a chuckle, “Well Anthony is definitely putting them in the shadows. Anthony has really great potential and a huge talent. I feel he is carrying something special inside him and I’m convinced he can make it and became a great champion.”

Will Joshua eventually succeed Klitschko as heavyweight boxing’s most dominant force? “Yes.” Klitschko says emphatically. “He will be the next undisputed champion after me.”

Klitschko pauses when asked if he can imagine fighting Joshua – when their difference in experience, and age, is so marked. “Of course, he needs to learn more and get more experience. But he got some when we trained together. I can’t say for sure that we’ll never fight because it depends on how long I am going to keep going and how fast he is going to move up the ratings. So it depends on a lot of things. But look at Muhammad Ali – he ended up fighting his sparring partner Larry Holmes.”

That seems an unfortunate comparison, for Klitschko’s sake, because Holmes dismantled the damaged former champion – and ruined him a little more. But Klitschko warms to his theme. “I’ve had guys, like Tony Thompson, who were my sparring partners before they became my opponents. So anything can happen. But it’s important Anthony keeps both feet on the ground and doesn’t get too cocky. The big mistake everybody makes – and I did it too because I wasn’t focused and that’s why I lost a couple of fights – is to believe the hype. But Anthony definitely has an amazing future in boxing.”