On Saturday night Anthony Joshua told the world that he was one of the planet’s best heavyweight fighters when he knocked out former 2 time champion, Wladimir Klitschko in 11 rounds in a largely tactically fought affair.
Klitschko saw the canvas for the first time in 12 years in the 5th round but managed to do the same to the Brit in the next. After waiting for the other to make a move, Joshua stepped it up in the 11th to finally give the 90,000 capacity at Wembley what they wanted to see, Joshua claiming the WBA and IBO belts to his IBF strap that he won from Charles Martin last year.
Understandably, emotions ran high during the immediate aftermath from everybody that was watching both at Wembley and in their homes watching the contest on PPV on their television sets.
So, let’s look at things objectively. What did Anthony Joshua do well and what should he improve on?
Klitschko had the edge in footwork and Joshua did what it was predicted that he would do. Stand in front of him with very little lateral movement. Of course, that is just his style. But it was something that nearly cost him in the 6th when he was downed by a heavy right upstairs. The Ukrainian was also able to counter the Watford fighter with hooks to the head, as did Dillian Whyte when they fought.
There is still the sporadic belief that Joshua’s punch resistance isn’t as good as one would like it to be because he had to get up the floor. The champion didn’t appear hurt and he climbed back up in relatively quick fashion. Sometimes, the sign of a good chin isn’t that a boxer never gets knocked down but his ability to recuperate after dealing with that sort of punishment. When it comes to the heavyweight division, you are dealing with boxers who are the sport’s heaviest. And one punch can end it all! There should be no cause for alarm.
What heavily contributed to the aforementioned knockdown was the extreme fatigue that Joshua was feeling after trying to put Klitschko away in the previous round. The Matchroom boxer answered all the questions that were asked of him. But not all the answers he gave are what we want to hear. It is concerning that his heavy frame caused severe stamina issues in the first half of the fight after a steady first 4 rounds. Some would say that him finishing Klitschko in the 11th proves that he has no such problems in the tenacity department but he was fortunate that Wladimir was still cautious and didn’t sustain the pressure otherwise we may have been seeing a very different result!
Stripping away some of that muscle would, in all likelihood, be detrimental to his strength and punching power, so Anthony may have to find a way to juggle keeping his physicality while laying it all on the line in the future!
Strategically, Anthony Joshua and his trainer Robert McCracken came up with a good plan and the former Olympian was able to apply it pretty effectively. He may now have had only 19 fights but Joshua performs with the maturity of a much older combatant. His jab is good when he uses it to full effect and the Brit showed that he can work out what his opponent is trying to do when he delivered that whopping uppercut in the last round of the fight just as Klitschko was about to clinch him.
Although he is now the holder of three belts, including the IBO, Anthony Joshua is still a work in progress! And he probably will be during the course of his next several fights. His frame and endurance is still a concern and the likes of Joseph Parker and Tyson Fury could potentially exploit that. But Joshua showed everybody he can dig deep to get through if necessary and he still has a very promising future!
Wladimir Klitschko, despite being 41 years of age now, still has what it takes to give young upstarts like Anthony Joshua plenty of trouble. His legs, when he didn’t have to ship large amounts of punches, looked fresh and any remnants of ring rust after being out of the ring for nearly 18 months remained absent. After so many had crumpled before Joshua in the past, is it still wise to keep calling Klitschko “chinny” after getting up repeatedly against heavy hitter Samuel Peter and now Joshua? Perhaps Wladimir’s chin should be given more credit.
It appears that the former unified champion remains defiant in the face of retirement and is likely to continue. Only Wladimir Klitschko knows whether that is really a good idea, but it was not as if he suddenly got old over night. A rematch with Tyson Fury or a shot against Deontay Wilder could be some of the options for him. A second fight with Joshua was in the contract but the conclusion of the action two days ago was pretty much absolute.
Still, you never know what will happen next in boxing!