London 2012 was a fantastic event and as a boxing fan, it gave us an Olympic Super Heavyweight Gold medallist from Britain. Due to the increasing size of boxing’s heaviest boxers, the division has only been around since 1984, when Tyrell Biggs beat Francisco Damiani at the Los Angeles Games.
Lennox Lewis, Wladimir Klitschko, Audley Harrison and Alexander Povetkin have all won the coveted Gold. Lennox Lewis went onto become an all-time Great, while Wladimir Klitschko is the reigning Heavyweight champion in the professional game. But, winning that Gold medal is no guarantee, as has been proven in the career of the much maligned Audley Harrison – who talked the talk but couldn’t, or wouldn’t, walk the walk.
In the 2012 Gold medallist, Watford’s Anthony Joshua, we have a 6’6 powerhouse who at 25-years-old has powered his way to ten consecutive victories; since turning professional in October, 2013. His debut saw him impressively stop the then 8-0 Italian, Emanuele Leo in the first round before a huge crowd at the O2 Arena, Greenwich, London. The buzz of anticipation from the crowd, signalled that boxing had something special. The ‘AJ’ roadshow has been touring the UK ever since and each time the reaction from the crowd is special.
The first ten fights of any young prospects career, are unlikely to be the most demanding but when you have an Olympic champion, it is a fine art of matchmaking; so that the hungry fans, sceptics are happy while the talent is being developed. Promoter Eddie Hearn, has a tricky job on his hands but has done well so far.
Joshua has brushed aside journeymen, veterans and fringe European contenders and it is the relative ease that has been impressive and his steely composure in doing so. He’s kept a level-head, composure and always looks in superb condition, which is a credit to his trainer Tony Sims. The ramrod jab reminds you of the one that Frank Bruno used to punish opponents with, while Joshua is also quick for a Heavyweight and getting more fluid with each passing fight.
Michael Sprott was the latest victim and he was truly mugged by the powerful Watford Heavyweight. Sprott, at 39, has seen much better days though it was good to see Joshua handle the veteran, the way he was supposed to. The wins over Konstantin Airich and Denis Bakhtov proved much more meaningful and again it was a pleasure to see how easily they were both dealt with.
With any prospect there are the question marks over stamina and punch resistance, and they often only get answered once they step into World class. Joshua’s next opponent is the seasoned and durable American Kevin Johnson. Johnson (29-6-1), has a low output but decent jab and knows how to survive the rounds. He talks a great fight but the ambition is lacking. At this stage he is the perfect next step, granted he’s lost four of his last five fights but the loses were over the distance to World title contenders like Tyson Fury, Manuel Charr and Dereck Chisora. Johnson is also capable of pulling off late round upsets; as he has proven against Alex Leapai and Solomon Haumono.
Promoter Eddie Hearn’s talk of a Joshua vs Tyson Fury summer clash, seems to be more ‘hot air’ than reality. Fury is in-line for a shot at Wladimir Klitschko, while throwing Anthony in this early would seem a very big risk. I suspect it’s more a case of ‘PR’ than a genuine chance of the fight happening so soon.
In 2015, I see Britain’s Heavyweight hope put in with boxers that can take him the distance. People like American’s Dominick Guinn (34-10-1) and Sherman Williams (37-14-2), while there are plenty of suitable challenges in Europe like Erkan Teper (13-0), Christian Hammer (17-3), Denis Boystov (35-1) and Francesco Pianeta (31-1) to name a few. I also think, we could well see Joshua in all-British clashes with the likes of David Price and Dereck Chisora.
After ten fights, I’ve been impressed with how Anthony Joshua has taken to the professional ranks and have high hopes that he is more Lennox than Audley. There’s still a long journey ahead but he looks to have the tools and drive to succeed.
Article By Rob Day