Jaded Joshua Ruins The Day

By Paul Magno on April 1, 2018
Jaded Joshua Ruins The Day
The truly great ones take out the survivors and clumsy stragglers. (Esther Lin/SHOWTIME)

This may have been “boxing finesse,” as he bragged in the post-fight interview, but it was also cynical as fuck…

Anthony Joshua was supposed to be the savior of boxing—a heavyweight with charisma, a big punch, and a willingness to let his big fists fly for the enjoyment of all. No more cold, clinical, tediously dull Wladimir Klitschko, who could punch through a cement wall, but never actually pushed himself to “fight” as champ. The new champ was ALL about fighting and about steamrolling those who found themselves in his way. And the fans loved him immediately for it, turning him into boxing’s biggest live draw and a fast-rising worldwide superstar.

But, in case you haven’t noticed, “AJ” has been more Wladimir Klitschko than Anthony Joshua these last couple fights. Against Carlos Takam last October and against Joseph Parker this past Saturday, Joshua fought carefully and methodically, looking like someone primarily focused on not losing and secondarily interested in doing just enough to win. More and more, the big Brit looks to be fighting with business on his mind, bursting with self-awareness when it comes to the kind of money laid out at his feet.

All of this is understandable from Joshua’s perspective, but it doesn’t make for a compelling sporting contest when one side is not good enough to win and the other side is not too sure about doing anything more than bare minimum to secure a win.

From a fan’s perspective, it sucks, actually.

It was probably inevitable that Joshua would become jaded when he realized how much money he could make and how many asses he could put in seats by merely showing up—and that a ragingly bold performance wasn’t even necessary. 80,000 fans at Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales seemed oddly enthused by the all-around lackluster performance by their hero on Saturday, so why would Joshua do anything different than the bare minimum needed to get to his next payday?

After the fight, the now-three-belt champ spoke with a tone of triumphant glory like he had just beaten Ali, Frazier, and Foreman, all in the same night or like he had just proven his mettle in all-out war. He boasted of his title belt collection, threw rocks at WBC champ Deontay Wilder, and assured that he would not be travelling abroad anytime soon. Joshua’s bold after-fight presence stood in stark contrast to his going-through-the-motions performance just minutes earlier.

This may have been “boxing finesse,” as he bragged in that same post-fight interview, but it was also cynical as fuck. Just because the UK fans apparently failed to see it, that doesn’t mean that it was anything other than what it was.

Yeah, Parker, with a good jab and a survivor’s mindset, was making it tough for Joshua to barrel in and Takam, last fall, was an awkward late replacement. There are excuses for Joshua’s recent performances. But the truly great ones take out the survivors and clumsy stragglers right away, they obliterate the pretenders and truly separate themselves from everyone beneath them. They don’t keep opponents around who clearly have no idea how to win and they sure as hell don’t crow about efforts that put everyone outside their home country to sleep.

WBC champ Deontay Wilder, for all his technical flaws and cringe-worthy behavior, is, at the very least, powered by this drive to conquer rather than simply win. It makes him a more compelling fighter and his fights overall more entertaining, especially now, with Joshua having done little more than the bare minimum in recent performances.

But why would Joshua do anything different than what he’s doing now? With guaranteed eight-figure paydays rolling in and an adoring, hero-hungry UK audience willing to love him no matter what, he really doesn’t have to go all-out to please those who aren’t enthralled by his mere presence.

In the short term, this is good news for Joshua and his ability to make a living. It means big, easy money. But, long term, fighters who become jaded and then complacent, rarely last long at the top of the boxing food chain.

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  1. Ralph Fight Fan 10:02am, 04/06/2018

    Ollie, I agree with you that “The ‘truly great ones’ had plenty of bad nights”, but in your pointing out Muhammad Ali’s bad night with Alfredo Evangelista, you omitted the THREE bad nights Ali had with Ken Norton, which although he won decisions on two of the three, for my money, Norton won all three. Norton whupped Ali’s ass thorougly in the first of their three bouts, breaking Ali’s jaw, and although the second and third bouts were close, I think Norton actually beat Ali in all three fights, especially the third in that trilogy, at Madison Square Garden where there was a huge chorus of boos when the unanimous decision was announced. Ali, himself, a straight talker behind all his showmanship (“no Vietnamese ever called me a nigger!”), commentated after the 3d Norton fight that he lost and was beaten. Ali seemed not to respect Norton and I heard he didn’t really train for him for any of those fights. Every fighter has his Avatar, the no-name pug he just cannot beat who whups you up real good. Ask Roman “Chocalatito” Gonzalez about Sor Rungvisai. Ask Shane Mosley about his avatar, the late Vernon Forrest, welterweight, who came out of nowhere to beat Shane , in his prime, twice! All that said, AJ didn’t have a bad night with Joseph Parker, he just fought Parker not to lose. AJ is no dummy: he knows well that any good heavyweight can knock out any other good heavyweight, even KO the one whose decidedly had the advantage in skill, punch and size, as did AJ over Parker in all three of those categories. Let’s not forget that Parker hurt AJ twice with body shots but couldn’t press the advantage due to the meddling of that jive-ass Italian ref!

  2. nicolas 08:23pm, 04/03/2018

    Mr Brown, you are correct about that. I think it was actually to get some British soldiers back from the Soviets. One of the things I have heard about WWII and the American involvement in it was the fear that the Germans might win, or the Soviets on there own might take over Europe. the later was felt my Roosevelt’s administration. But of course in the US, at theme before Pearl Harbor there were people who did not want the US to get involved. Perhaps if Hitler had been smarter, he would have sent condolences to the USA for Pearl Harbor instead of declaring war. the Japanese did not help the Germans against the Russians because of a pact between Japan and Russia. Unlike the early 1900’s during Theodores times, Japan had not fared so well against he Soviets before WWII, and did not want to take on the Soviets at that time.

  3. Ollie Downtown Brown 05:25pm, 04/03/2018

    nicolas… I’m thinking the Soviet troops feared their own gulags a hell of a lot more than the German POW camps. What the Americans and Brits did by turning over Soviet defectors back over to Stalin in Operation Keelhaul was a disgrace.

  4. nicolas 09:28am, 04/03/2018

    Ollie: even the Germans did not view the Italian soldiers very favorably, though because of circumstances that I won’t go into, the Italian Soldier really had a bad rap. My father who was Polish and served with the Brits did not have a favorable view of the American Soldier in Europe, but he did of the ones who fought the Japanese, so perhaps America’s A team was in the Pacific. The Soviet Soldiers of course were far more harder, but that might have been because they knew how they would be treated by the Germans in POW camps, and they also knew what would happen to them if they retreated. Perhaps the Americans in the Pacific also knew what would happen to them if they were caught by the Japanese.

  5. Ollie Downtown Brown 05:53am, 04/03/2018

    Well, Americans and Brits are both pretty damn delusional when it comes to WWII. Both take credit for defeating Germany, even though they fought Germany’s B team on the Western Front. German soldiers would remark how unfit both the “Tommy” and American “doughboy” were. An American asked a German officer POW what they thought about the American soldiers fighting skills. The German officer said that they viewed the Americans, the same way Americans viewed the Italian soldiers.

    Joshua tko in the middle rounds over Wilder

  6. AkT 05:28am, 04/03/2018

    AJ kept his belts and added the WBO to this already impressive collection. Making them altogether FOUR, not 3.

    Paul, I’m beginning to think there’s a possibility you might have put this together to spark some controversy or just an alternative view point from the tonnes of others out there. If so, fair play to you. Perhaps the writers association needs a Mayweather in it’s midst. Lord knows how challenging writing can be. 1 thing though, we must never to do in the process is to detract from anyone’s performances or endeavours. You really should correct your article. It should read:

    “The now-four-belt Champion ...”

  7. Ralph the Fight Fan 10:43pm, 04/02/2018

    John Ahearn has a point when he says the Brits take Deontay Wilder far too lightly. They’re so thrilled with having one of their own as the ALMOST undisputed heavyweight champ, that they are a little what the Brits themselves call “daft” about their boy. The way he comes out into the stadiums in that flowing white robe with the fake smoke background, looking up dreamily into his winning destiny, to the cheers of tens of thousands of the Brit faithful, you’d think he was their first Black Prince on his way to his coronation as the King of England! But Wilder may not clean AJ’s clock like Old Ironsides did five of Britain’s warships way back in the day. Deontay has some weaknesses that could get him knocked out, not the least of which are lunging, leading with his head and leaving his head exposed when he takes big shots, not to mention getting off balance-his aggressiveness might be his undoing, if not his occasional silly-ass lollygagging-AJ is a proven knockout artist and he seems to have good recuperative ability when truly hurt, as was the case with Klitschko dropping him in the 5th round-I thought he was done, but he fought defensively well and kept Klitschko from KO’ing him while he was seeing butterflys and stars-Ali said “the test of a true champ is not the ability to deliver a punch, but the ability to TAKE a punch.” He took some pretty heavy shots off Ortiz for which I was impressed, too. Can he take AJ’s best? This is going to be a good fight which might start out defensively, but will become an all out war is my guess. Can’t wait but we will be forced to wait as the cost of the PPV gate is built up with “tuneup"fights and probably at least one card, here in the US or across the pond, with both fighters on the same show but not fighting one another. Can’t wait. We may be lucky enough, even, to get an Ali-Frazier trilogy if the first one is a real rumble, a real give and take slugfest with both combatants dishing it out and taking it. It’s coming. Can’t wait.

  8. Ralph the Fight Fan 10:13pm, 04/02/2018

    Magno seems to not understand “the Champ’s prerogative”-there is a long tradition in boxing that the Champ doesn’t have to put himself in harm’s way every fight, he’s entitled to pick some guys he knows he can beat, if only to stay in good fighting form for the boxer who might really be his match. We all know who that is. Ali used to call it his “bum of the month club”. Also, the fight itself might have been boring to those fans who just want to see a knockout, but Paulie Malinaggi, from the unique point of view of someone who’s been there, done that, saw a real chess match, as I did. Paulie pointed out that each fighter was just inside of KO range and had to think both defensively and offensively at all times. Sometimes a technical fighter’s fight isn’t going to please the fan who wants somebody put to sleep.Some of the shots Parker put on AJ said he deserved to be taken seriously but was beatable. AJ’s ultimate test is coming,but don’t play Joseph Parker cheap-he wasn’t “bum of the month club” material and he was in the fight to the end. I don’t blame AJ for being careful with Parker-hopefully he’ll get a re-match, although the talking heads at Showtime pointed out something kind of odd, advantage to AJ, that only AJ’s contract had a re-match clause, Parker’s didn’t. I hope Parker gets another shot, perhaps soon, perhaps on AJ’s way to meet the guy that’s like him, either the #1 or #2 heavyweight in the world. The Wilder fight will happen-too much $$ in it for it not to happen and Al Hayman, AJ’s promoter, isn’t afraid of having the best fighters in his stable of some of the best in the world, put it all on the line in the same or near same weight class, when the time is right. Maybe we’ll see it before the end of the year, but it will happen.

  9. Gordon Marino 08:23pm, 04/02/2018

    I certainly agree with you about the difference between Wilder and AJ. Insightful analysis. He had little to fear in Parker and yet he seemed overly cautious. I was, however, impressed by his ability to recoup from the big knockdown from Klitschko. I am eager to see the Wilder matchup. Wilder doesn’t just knock people out - he leaves them twitching.  I always pegged him for having a glass chin - but he sure took some shots from Ortiz.

  10. John Ahearn 06:46pm, 04/02/2018

    Lennox Lewis was one of the greatest. Anthony Joshua is a good fighter. Deontay Wilder is a good fighter. Both of them have tremendous potential. A lot of the Brits discount Wilder’s chances against AJ . as folly. Wilder was an Olympic Bronze Medalist in the Heavy Div.  He fought the best fighters in the world as an amateur. Deontay’s aggressiveness is something AJ. has never faced. That in combination with his explosive power will be the end of AJ. Deontay Wilder KO win in round 7. Yes Wilder will resemble the USS Constitution, heavy frigate of the U.S. Navy when it destroyed 5 British warships. Alas me Limeys, I must not dally any longer….Tally Ho you poor deluded twits.

  11. Ollie Downtown Brown 02:20pm, 04/02/2018

    The “truly great ones” had plenty of bad nights.

    Joe Louis vs Tommy Farr
    Joe Louis vs. Jersey Joe Walcott I
    Cassius Clay vs. Doug Jones
    Jack Dempsey vs. Tommy Gibbons ( Gibbons weighed all of 175lbs. )
    Rocky Marciano vs Don Cockell.( Marciano never looked worse, sure Cockell didn’t make it past 9 but still an awful performance from Marciano. )
    Larry Holmes vs. Trevor Berbick
    Muhammad Ali vs Alfredo Evangelista ( doesn’t matter how old Ali was, Evangelista? )

  12. Ollie Downtown Brown 12:19pm, 04/02/2018

    “we the people?” America hasn’t been “we the people” for a minimum of 150 years and counting.

  13. nicolas 11:47am, 04/02/2018

    Paul writes that fighters who are jaded and complacent don’t last long. But would he not perhaps compare him to Wladimir in this case, a boxer who had the second longest reign at heavyweight champ to Joe Louis. If you take his win over Chris Byrd and his loss to Tyson Fury as that reign. I think act even he had a longer reign combined than did Ali in his win over Sonny Liston, being unjustly stripped of the title, and his win over George Foreman and his having to capture the title back from one Leon Spinks. Sometimes when you try to knock a guy out, when that guy is not yet in trouble, one can run into something one self.

  14. nonprophet 10:58am, 04/02/2018

    Snooze fest..  reminded me of that stork’s ballet which was the Fury-Klit fiasco.  For Joshua to be great, he must take the kind of chances during bouts that are necessary for him to exert his talent to the fullest; mainly, he must FORCE his will on his opponent.  Parker’s chin was never tested in that bout.  That’s AJ’s fault. Parker is indeed a good boxer, has faster hands than Joshua and has a fairly good punch. But Joshua needed to ignore all that, bring the fight to Parker, trade with him in the trenches, and get him out of there.  That is what the great Lennox Lewis did throughout his career and its what he would have done to Parker this past weekend.

  15. Your Name 09:59am, 04/02/2018

    Bond: Tell me about the queen and brainwashing. I want to know about it. You see in America is:“We the people…”

  16. David 09:00am, 04/02/2018

    And would be more appropriate to see AJ to get out and set foot on the soil of the Foe and then conquer. That would seem more mature and look like the real Man. Not hiding under the skirt of his Mama and Motherland while fighting and then boast. A typical Coward mentality.

  17. Andrew 08:49am, 04/02/2018

    Foolish AJ to yell he would spark knockout Wilder when he couldn’t even touch Parker. No credit for AJ beating Klitchko as he was nearly done by an OLD Lion. Yet to see how long he can keep away from the upcoming Young Lions in the Division.

  18. Bond 08:35am, 04/02/2018

    Wow, you sound like you’re really butthurt and Englishman is on top of the world instead of an american.

    Yeah, it was a boring fight. Yeah, AJ did the bare minimum, yeah he bragged a bit afterwards. Yeah he’s less entertaining than Wilder because he isn’t reckless. Well that’s why Wilder is getting knocked out at one point. I undertand AJ not wanting to go the same route.

    In any case, nothing justifies pointing the finger at british fans so much, as if they were completely braindead and oblivious to reality. ESPECIALLY if it’s an american pointing the finger. There never was a more brainwashed people.

  19. Jose 07:13am, 04/02/2018

    Johnny: Good boxers ? Well, Ortiz is by far a better boxer than Klitschko, Parker, Fury and Joshua and hit harder than all of them yet he crumbled before Wilder like the rest before him.

  20. Ollie Downtown Brown 06:13am, 04/02/2018

    Balaamsass.. Spot on about London. Maybe they need to sack up and try the tune, “Get Back” by the Beatles instead of “Sweet Caroline.”

  21. Balaamsass 06:06am, 04/02/2018

    File this under “Life is not fair”.....if David Price had a chin like Tex Cobb he would have been the Monster That Devoured Boxing!

  22. Balaamsass 05:57am, 04/02/2018

    “UK fans” need this….with Mohammed back at the flat shittin’ in the parlor it does them a world of good to get out once in a while and pretend that their nutsaks aren’t empty after all! “Sweet Caroline” is a perfect theme song for the sorry fux who have way more in common with Neil Diamond than they do with AJ who has muscles in his shit! The fight on Saturday was a prime example of a “silent agreement” between the two fighters that Teddy Atlas used to go on about!

  23. Lion Heart 02:05am, 04/02/2018

    Good article and pretty much mirrors my own view of the fight. Although I don’t place the blame on Joshua or Parker so much as they weren’t allowed to fight. That god awful referee ruined the fight. if he hadn’t split them up as soon as they traded punches we could have had a good fight, but we’ll never know. I have a problem with the score cards, either the scoring system have changed or the judges were bent. How did Joshua win the first four rounds, when he only threw a few jabs? Do jabs outscore hooks now? All I can say is before this fight its fair to say I was a Joshua fan, but I would say that at this moment in time. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but something didn’t sit well with me after that fight. It wasn’t just because is was a poor spectacle, I don’t know, maybe it was just the referee and score cards, but it just didn’t feel like a fair fight. You know the same feeling we all often have after a Mayweather fight.

  24. Jonny 12:24am, 04/02/2018

    It’s worth pointing out that the “truly great ones” as you’ve said, have also lost. Parker had the ability to hurt Joshua, so Joshua nullified that. Some fights aren’t going to be great fights or memorable fights. Sometimes it’s about being cautious. This was a unification fight and a history making fight between 2 tough competitors. Sometimes - Joshua v Klitschko - it turns into open warfare; sometimes like against Parker it becomes more cagey. It happens.

    Wilder stepping into the ring with a top heavyweight like Parker, Fury or Joshua would see all his many flaws exposed quickly. His inability to cover up and keep his balance and his wild swings leaving him wide open can be exploited by a good boxer long before he throws his power punch.

  25. Ralph the Fight Fan 12:18am, 04/02/2018

    Paul Magno’s excellent commentary, and all the other I’ve seen misses something that could be an Achilles Heel with AJ that Parker exposed: I saw it and I assume that Wilder’s camp saw it and will be studying film: AJ looks susceptible to well-placed body shots-he may be a bit soft in the middle or simply doesn’t have enough natural padding to protect those vital organs like the liver (I’ve seen Ray Leonard knock several guys out with well-placed devastating body shots; he KO’d Tommy Hearns with a left hook, but he Osterized Tommy to the mid-section first - Tommy had no meat there in the middle and you could clearly see that when Ray landed to the liver, Tommy was cut down a notch each well-placed punch there to the la bonza). Parker caught AJ about mid-way through the fight with a good right to the mid-section that momentarily stopped AJ’s walk-down of Parker; AJ retreated some and the idiot ref’s meddling on the infighting and the bell, successively successfully saved AJ on that one - but to the trained eye, AJ was clearly hurt; later, a more telling body blow was delivered by a Parker right either in the 11th or 12th round Parker got one off to the liver that almost dropped AJ - he was momentarily stunned and for a split-second looked like his legs were going to go. Had Parker, a champion with a decent punch, in the few instances when he got off his back foot, planted his feet and let his hands fly, been able to make that shot a few more than he landed, might have been a different outcome. I think those two big body shots were not lost on the Wilder camp - Wilder laid some pretty devastating body shots on Ortiz, although he mostly head-hunted. Parker demonstrated that AJ can be hurt with some power punching to the mid-section. I think Deontay will invest down there whenever they hook up. Ralph in Sunny San Diego

  26. James 12:13am, 04/02/2018

    The amount of nonsense we’ve had to put up with since the fight. Joshua has had a scant twenty or so pro bouts and he’s now beaten Dillian Whyte, Klitschko, Parker, Takam, and Breazeale. That’s not bad is it? Against a tough unbeaten heavyweight in Parker, Joshua looked composed and relaxed and imposed himself without taking any unnecessary risks. It was a mature performance against an opponent who looked to pot-shot on the back foot for much of the fight.

  27. Nicolas Partrick 11:07pm, 04/01/2018

    This is a very interesting and well-written article which sums up many boxing fans’ general feeling following this fight.
    Many thanks. I will be reading your reports again.
    N. Partrick.

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