Boxing, over the last few years, has been revitalising itself. It’s whole appeal had diminished at the hands of its own deficiencies; refereeing and judging inconsistencies, ducking of matches and most of all, the lack of excitement. It has also been kicked (perhaps with some sort of round-house style kick) by the feet of MMA, most notably UFC, as it has grown spectacularly as a worldwide sport.
But recently, there is a crop of British fighters who are doing very well in their respective weights, meaning that we’re being touted, and all but promised; Kell Brook Vs. Amir Khan and Carl Frampton Vs. Scott Quigg in the near future. The former will undoubtedly reel in more attention, but, the latter will also get a lot of interest from those who aren’t just looking for a ‘household name’ on the billing.
However, for many it’s the emergence of one young man who has really gone some way to turn the sport on its head, or at the very least, in his own division; Anthony Joshua. Having only started boxing at the late age of 18, Joshua rose through the Amateur ranks, before representing Great Britain at the London 2012 Olympics, where he won a Gold medal.
Now aged 25, Anthony Joshua has had 13 professional bouts, winning all of them, KO’ing all of his opponents within three rounds. Okay, hands up, he isn’t fighting world beaters as of yet, but he is starting – he has to be eased into it. Sprott was ‘supposed’ to be a test of sorts, but, couldn’t last the opening round against Joshua. American Kevin Johnson should have been a good test for a fighter who has been obliterating his opponents. TKO within 3 rounds.
It isn’t just that Joshua has risen through the amateur ranks, won a Gold medal and is now performing well professionally; it’s also he freshens the whole Heavyweight division up. It’s often regarded as just two cumbersome big men in a ring, with not an awful lot of boxing thrown in. Whilst Tyson Fury and David Haye have tried to dispel the cumbersome element to that stereotype – Anthony Joshua is a completely different entity.
When he faced up against Jason Gavern, the difference in every aspect to their application is phenomenal. Both men are about the same weight. However, one man stands with a belly on him, the other stands with an eight-pack. It’s as though he is pro-actively trying to change the stereotype of the big cumbersome Heavyweights; but this isn’t just the only way he is different to his peers.
Testament to him, as it isn’t entirely the physicality and athleticism of Joshua which sets him apart from his peers. It’s his attitude to the sport too. In 2010, whilst fighting in the as an Amateur he was offered £50,000 to turn pro, he turned it down citing it wasn’t about money for him, but instead, he just wanted to win medals. Fast forward to now, and Joshua is already quashing the minority-of-doubters saying he wants to take his time and do things right – rather than rushing through it – risking becoming pushed into the same bracket as other British Heavyweights such as Haye, Chisora and Harrison. He wants to be remembered as the next Lennox Lewis. He’s going the right way about it.
Shall he come through his upcoming May 30th bout with Kevin Johnson there is talk of a fight against David Price being lined up. Whilst that would undoubtedly be a step in the right direction as for matching him up against better opponents; most pundits had already said he wouldn’t have a chance…months prior to the fight even being touted for this year!
It’s not just the whole of the British media who are fans of Joshua and singing his praises, but also, World Heavyweight champion of nine years and 18 title-defences, Wladmir Klitschko. The Ukrainian said of Joshua;
“I haven’t seen an athlete as athletic, as big, as fast, as talented as Anthony and if he’s going to continue the way he is, developing himself, the future belongs to him.”
As long as Anthony Joshua keeps going as he is with his training, mentality and fighting – he will only develop further and further. It’s now just a matter of how far can he go and, how quickly he can get to the top.