The winner of the London 2012 Olympic Heavyweight boxing tournament came away with much more than just a gold medal. He became an idol. A beacon of hope for British boxing.
Since records began, the lime-light has always been on the biggest men in the sport.
The label of ‘The Champ’ used to mean the heavyweight champion of the world. But over last decade the sport’s popularity has been in decline. Due to many top fights not being made and the media not covering the sport in the same capacity as it once did most casual fans will only hear about the biggest events now which usually include PPV stars such as Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao, and Carl Froch (In the UK) who are all competing at smaller weight divisions.
In England there was a glimmer of hope when David Haye stepped up from Cruiserweight and started to challenge the champions at Heavyweight. He Dethroned Nikolay Valuev in a points decision in Germany for the WBA version of the title.
He then defended it against 2 time champion John Ruiz and Olympic Gold medalist and European champion Audley Harrison before losing the title on points to Wladamir Klitschko on his return trip to Germany.
The majority of the ‘World Heavyweight title’ still remains with the Ukrainian born, German based fighter to this day.
The last remaining ‘Heavyweight title wich was vacated by Wlad’s older Brother Vitali, has since been won by Bermaine Stiverne (Vs Chris Arreola) and more recently by the undefeated 32-0 American, Deontay Wilder.
Anthony Joshua took almost a year out after winning the Olympic title. He signed a promotional deal with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Sport and has since racked up 12 professional wins, all of which by way of stoppage!
Next up for Anthony is a real test. Kevin ‘kingpin’ Johnson.
In his first 12 fights AJ has only managed to gain the experience of 23 rounds due to the fact that none of his opponents could last with his punching power. Johnson however, has never been stopped! He has shared the ring with the likes of Vitali Klitschko, Christian Hammar, Dereck Chisora, Manuel Charr and Tyson Fury who have 98 knockouts between them and has managed to last the distance each and every time. He has never even been knocked down as a pro.
With 29 wins and 14 KOs to his name, he is by far the best fighter that AJ will have come up against so far.
If AJ is to win in style, knock down or KO Kevin Johnson, it will send out a real statement to his heavyweight rivals.
There are calls from the British fans for Anthony to fight at a higher level. But with under 2 years as a professional to his name I think the 12 fights he has had, have near enough been spot on in terms of progression, and if it wasn’t for the postponement of the original date for the Johnson fight he would now be looking at domestic fight with Tyson Fury, Dereck Chisora or David Price.
With so much expectation on his shoulders, Anthony has somehow managed to stay very humble and calculated whenever he is front of the camera. Trying to be a role model for future generations and say and do the right things outside of the ring will likely help to grow a good fan base both at home and overseas.
There aren’t really that many fights out there for him before he will be likely to take a risk and face one of the divisions bigger hitters such as Tyson Fury, Wladamir Klitschko or Deontay Wilder.
I think the longer the wait and the more experience he can gain in the meantime is crucial to making a succesful attempt at the heavyweight world title.
Jumping in with the likes of Klitschko now, could lead to a setback similar to David Price’s KO losses to Tony Thompson. Price has had 4 fights since losing the second bout with Thompson and has won all 4 with 3 coming by way of a stoppage.
A summer showdown with David Price VS Anthony Joshua is a real possibility with both of their promoters Matchroom Sport and Sauerland Promotions working closely together on shows for Sky Sports and Matchroom Fightpass.
By Lee Russell