Anthony Joshua — Hoping to Avoid the Left Hook

By Jeff Weston on April 29, 2017
Anthony Joshua — Hoping to Avoid the Left Hook
Fourteen years and four Olympics separate Wladimir Klitschko and Anthony Joshua.

Whatever the result of tonight’s eagerly anticipated ‘no mud-slinging’ bout, a multitude of questions will be answered…

A man’s defeats don’t always tell us who he is, but they do unmask his vulnerabilities.

Anthony Joshua, the clean-living professional killer with the purposely deceptive and anaemic moniker of ‘AJ’, has managed to dispel the haunting amateur defeat to Dillian Whyte in 2009, but the dirt and residue of 2011 remain (Mihai Nistor and the unpronounceable Magomedrasul Medzhidov) along with the worry over his defense compounded a year later when fighting Cuba’s rangy Erislandy Savon.

Joshua was half the man back then — both in physique and ring IQ — yet pouring over the footage of those forgotten bouts tells us much about what makes him uncomfortable. Nistor, the tough, compact Romanian southpaw walked him down while swinging wildly. Medzhidov recovered from a torrid first round by disorientating and buckling Joshua with a huge, straight right. And Savon simply didn’t let up and used his length impressively from numerous angles, albeit in defeat.

Joshua, it seems, does not like wide shots. There is a touch of the shire horse with blinkers to him when unusual missiles come flying in. It is conceivable that because of this errant bullying, he made a conscious decision to bulk up, add essential weapons to his arsenal and improve his resistance. Strength, after all, is the backstop — the roadblock that prevents raw tormentors having their way.

Amateur boxing, it could be said of course, is like kids at junior school still using pencils. When the pens finally arrive, things change. The old, head-guarded crew begin to see a new light. And the stings to body and skull are harder. Some cope with this switch from medals to moolah. Others begin to realise their limitations and the skills and growth spurt of those around them can be demoralising.

With Joshua — half a decade on and a professional 18-0 slate — it helps that he can now walk through opponents and set his feet even better than before. The split purse £30m or £40m fight (versus Wladimir Klitschko on 29th April), or whatever pay-per-view beans happen to be on offer, is testament to his progress, politeness and vim. It does not, however, suggest that he should be considered in the same class as WBC champ, Deontay Wilder or Luis ‘King Kong’ Ortiz. Or even WBO champ, Joseph Parker. The method of his victory over 41-year-old Klitschko will decide that.

But will he win? Is such an outcome a foregone conclusion for the young IBF lion and former sparring partner of the Ukrainian? The consensus in the UK’s Boxing Monthly is a resounding ‘Yes’ by 25 votes to four. Only Glenn McCrory, Paddy Barnes and the anti-Matchroom camp of Peter Fury and Hughie Fury have faith in the gloves of the old master, Wladimir.

“He’s been bashing up conventional fighters like Joshua since he was 18 years old,” McCrory states.

“Sure, Joshua is young and fast, but Wlad is just as big and a different grade altogether to anything Josh has faced before. Wlad could even stop him and, if he did, it wouldn’t be a shock to the serious boxing fan,” Barnes adds.

“Klitschko’s gonna be very determined to get his titles back. He’s got far greater experience and I just see a gulf in levels,” Peter Fury comments.

“All the experience is with Wladimir and I see him taking his time and walking Josh on to shots,” Hughie Fury concludes.

It is intriguing. And if we rewind five years to Round Two of Joshua’s Olympic tussle with Savon we hear the commentator say of the Englishman’s flawed jab: “You bring that hand back quick before you get burnt.” 

Joshua has corrected such weaknesses since if only through sheer power and snap. He continues, however, to keep his right mitten low and this is the great hole in the wall making him susceptible to Klitschko’s stock-in-trade left hooks. If Wlad can bang a few of these in early on to unsettle the younger man, then who knows?

There might not be much evidence of Joshua being rocked in recent professional bouts — with the exception of Whyte in December 2015 — but he has not been in with many equals. The disparity in the amateur ranks was smaller. When Joshua climbs through the ropes on Saturday at around 10pm, he will instantly know that the former protection afforded him will have evaporated.

That is not to say that he will disappoint. He might indeed be ready. And Klitschko, his aging opponent, can only be categorised now as an unknown: 17 months out of the ring; his desultory performance against Tyson Fury perhaps still fresh in his head; the fear factor against an ox like Joshua maybe even out-stinking Wlad’s garbage truck mindset on that horrible night.

Fourteen years and four Olympics separate Wladimir Klitschko and Anthony Joshua. Many see that as an example of youth about to take over. The former has Johnathon Banks as his trainer, the latter Robert McCracken. Sparring partners include Gerald Washington and Malik Scott, and Mariusz Wach and Joe Joyce respectively in an effort to recreate the power and height that will darken the ring.

Whatever the result of Saturday’s eagerly anticipated ‘no mud-slinging’ bout, a multitude of questions will be answered: Is it time for Wlad to walk away? Has Joshua proved that he can make the step up? And most importantly, when will Ortiz and Wilder be let off the leash for a really big clash?

The great irony is that Wlad can do everything hurtful that Nistor, Medzhidov and Savon did to Joshua. And ‘AJ’ being a seven-round, over-muscled green might just well run out of stamina.

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Anthony Joshua vs. Wladimir Klitschko | April 29 - LIVE on SHOWTIME (4:15p ET/1:15p PT)

Anthony Joshua vs. Wladimir Klitschko | GP Promo

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  1. Kevin Mohan 07:19am, 05/05/2017

    Great piece Jeff, very enjoyable reading. Looking forward to the next one (article and fight!)

  2. Bobby Towers 07:11am, 05/05/2017

    Your article was highly articulate and enjoyable to read. Even for someone like me who when it comes to reading has a very limited attention span.

    It turned out to be a great fight and although Klitschko lost the fight he won respect. The rematch i hope will be just as entertaining.. As far as Mr Wilder goes he has certainly got power but in my opinion he lacks any real technical prowess and will be out boxed and out gunned by Joshua.

    Looking forward to the next installment….


  3. Koolz 03:08pm, 04/29/2017

    This was a Great heavy weight Fight!

    And both fighters were fantastic through the whole fight.
    Russia the light of the World!

  4. Koolz 02:22pm, 04/29/2017

    I like Russia!

    Good Plan but….

  5. Alt Knight 11:53am, 04/29/2017

    Joshua by decision.

  6. Koolz 11:24am, 04/29/2017

    What Luke Cambell vs Jorge Linares!?  Are they crazy!  Luke wouldn’t even make past the six round with Linares!  Geeze Cambell’s selfesteem would be shattered by that fight.  Better prepare him from something else.

  7. Koolz 11:12am, 04/29/2017

    Undercard happening right now.  I will post the fight as soon as it’s up.

    Wlad has this. 

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