Anthony Joshua: I like Wladimir Klitschko, but I'll beat him

LONDON -- With fans chanting and singing, heavyweight world titleholder Anthony Joshua and former longtime world champion Wladimir Klitschko came face-to-face for the final time at Friday's weigh-in a little over 24 hours before they will swing their fists at each other for the greatest prize in sports.

Both fighters appeared to be in superb condition for the fight on Saturday (live on Showtime at 4:15 p.m. ET with a replay on HBO at 11 p.m. ET/PT), which will take place in front of a sold-out British boxing record crowd of 90,000.

Joshua, making his third title defense of one of the belts Klitschko used to hold, weighed in at a shredded but career-heavy 250 pounds. Klitschko, also in immaculate condition, was 240¼ pounds, his lightest weight since knocking out former titlist Ruslan Chagaev in the ninth round in 2009.

The fight is perhaps the biggest in British boxing history and has captivated the country, where the 27-year-old Joshua (18-0, 18 KOs), the 2012 Olympic super heavyweight gold medalist for Great Britain, is a huge star. He is also the favorite to defeat a man for whom he once served as a sparring partner.

Throughout the buildup to the fight, Joshua has been the picture of calm and poise, and nothing changed at the weigh-in.

"I'm only going to be myself -- the fight is already as big as it can be," Joshua said after getting off the scale. "There's belts on the line, there's legacy on the line, there's 12 rounds of intense, ferocious boxing on the line. It comes with everything you want to see -- boxing skills, power, timing. It's just how long you can last and withstand each other's abilities.

"I don't hate Klitschko, I don't dislike Klitschko, but I want to beat Klitschko. Someone is going to win, and someone is going to continue with their career. And I'm very confident that's me."

Klitschko (64-4, 54 KOs), 41, of Ukraine, is fighting for the first time in 17 months -- the longest layoff of his career -- since losing a unanimous decision and his three title belts in a major upset to England's Tyson Fury. Joshua eventually won one of them, and he and Klitschko will also fight for a vacant belt.

Klitschko, who will extend his heavyweight record by participating in his 29th world title fight, is aiming to become a three-time heavyweight champion, a club that includes Evander Holyfield (four), his older brother Vitali Klitschko, Lennox Lewis and Muhammad Ali.

Before losing to Fury, Klitschko had been undefeated for more than 11 years, held the world title for 9½ years (second-longest in division history) and made 18 defenses during his second title reign (third most in division history).

Klitschko, the 1996 Olympic super heavyweight gold medalist, has a massive experience advantage over Joshua but showed signs of his age against Fury.

"This is a big step for AJ," Klitschko said. "He hasn't fought this type of quality fighter yet. It's going to be challenging for him, and it's going to be challenging for me. This fight is 50-50; both fighters have a chance to win the fight, but I have this feeling that this is my night."

New Jersey's David Fields will serve as the referee. The judging panel consists of Don Trella, of Connecticut; Steve Weisfeld, of New Jersey; and Nelson Vazquez, of Puerto Rico.