The unbeaten boxer journey to become the world heavyweight champion hasn’t exactly been straight forward but AJ says his troubled past helped him to remain focused and humble throughout his already incredible career. Joshua’s professional record currently stands at 19 wins and no defeats, with all of his wins coming by way of knockout.
Anthony Joshua‘s at first was focusing on his athletics and football and only started boxing at the age of 18 in 2007 when his cousin took him to the gym, with his first amateur fight way back in November 2008. He only ever had 34 amateur fights before going pro, with a record of 31-3. He notably lost to Dillian Whyte in 2009 at the amateur level which started the rivalry that led to the two fighting for the vacant British heavyweight title and Joshua’s Commonwealth belt, a fight that AJ won by knockout in the 7th round. Anthony stated he values his defeats in amateur defeats and said this about one of his opponents “Magomedrasul Majidov was an unbelievable fighter, but I had only been boxing for two and a half years then because my first amateur fight was in November 2008. So, he was much more experienced.”
In 2011, was caught in possession of cannabis when he was charged with possession with intent to supply which holds a maximum sentence of 14 years and at this point, Joshua was suspended from team GB. Anthony got a major breakthrough at the 2011 World Championships where he won silver. In the quarterfinals, he defeated Olympic champion Roberto Cammarelle to qualify for London 2012.
Anthony Joshua captured gold at London 2012, after his dramatic victory over the reigning super-heavyweight gold medalist, Roberto Cammarelle. “I will stay in the amateurs as long as possible,” he said. “Sometimes it’s hard against fighters with more experience than I’ve got. I want to dominate everyone in the amateurs, become a world champion, become European champion. I’m learning at each tournament. The more tournaments I go to the more I’ll improve as a fighter.”
On 11 July 2013, Joshua confirmed that he had turned professional and got his professional debut on 5 October 2013 against Emanuele Leo when he won by TKO in the very first round. The Italian was unbeaten at the time and after two minutes and 47 seconds with Anthony Joshua, had tasted his first defeat.
Next up in Joshua’s career was Paul Butlin, who proved to be a harder test than his previous fight with Emanuele Leo. This time it was 50 seconds into the second round before the fight was put to an end. Butlin was unable to continue after being dropped by a dangerous right but managed to get up, however with a cut below his left eye and a badly swollen face and the referee had no other choice than to bring the fight to an end.
In Joshua’s next two fights, he faced Hrvoje Kisicek and Dorian Darch, with both fights ending by TKO in the second round. Against Kisicek, Anthony began to punish him all throughout the first round and continued his power and pace into the second round where Joshua wasted no time in ending the fight altogether. The fight with Darch had a similar outcome when he stopped his Welsh opponent in the second round to make it four wins out of four.
Already people were speculating that Joshua would do big things in the world of boxing and link him to big fights such as Vladimir Klitschko, who he would later end up fighting. Many big names across the whole sporting world backing AJ to live up to his hype, with many famous faces spotted at his fights.
Next up for AJ was Argentine Hector Alfredo Avilla. Anthony Joshua needed just 134 seconds to end the fight and furthering the ever-growing hype surrounding his name. Joshua was yet to fight past the second round in his professional career and remained his 100% KO ratio, which he amazingly still holds to date. AJ was carefully picking his shots against the desperate Avilla, before sending the South American flat on his back. His next two fights were against fellow Brits in Matt Leg and Matt Skelton where he recorded a round 1 KO and a round 2 TKO. AJ showed off his power as after 83 seconds, Matt Legg was well and truly out of the fight. In the Skelton fight, the referee did actually briefly stop the fight before ending it completely moments later.
Anthony Joshua continued his journey with knockout victories over Konstantin Airich, Denis Bakhtov and Michael Sprott. For the first time in his professional career, he was forced into a third before continuing his incredible 100% knockout percentage. Joshua dealt a big right that hurt the German before a combination left him without a hope before the referee put a stop to things. His fight with Airich become his first professional fight to go to the third round, which only multiplied his hype across the boxing world. Joshua then celebrated winning the vacant WBC International heavyweight title with his 2nd TKO victory over Russian, Denis Bakhtov. The then 24-year-old, demolished his opponent on the night to make it 9 wins by knockout from 9 fights. Joshua made his 10th professional fight against Sprott. AJ only needed less than 90 seconds to overcome veteran Michael Sprott and record his 10th successive knockout.
His next fight was on the 4th of April against the American journeyman Jason Gavern. Anthony rolled to yet another victory with his improvement from fight to fight getting obvious. Gavern proved to be no match for AJ as he was knocked down to the canvas four times in the fight but did become the second fighter to make it to the 3rd round with him.
At this point in his career, everyone including a lot of his biggest supporters was demanding that Joshua steps up and fights at an even higher standard with a lot of pro boxers stating the same. When addressing his criticisms he said “I don’t think boxing fans are ever satisfied. They’re always looking for the next beast to come out and beat someone. There’ll always be this situation where if I fight the next guy who’s won all his fights and I knock him out, they’ll say ‘Don’t you want to go the rounds?’ That’s always how it’ll be in boxing.”
Brazilian, Raphael Zumbano Love would be Anthony Joshua’s next opponent when they fought on the 9th of May 2015 at the Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham. Zumbano Love proved to be not much of a challenge to AJ who barely broke a sweat as he recorded a second-round knockout victory. Joshua dominated the fight from the get go and looked like he could have ended the fight at any moment. He was scheduled to fight the American, Kevin Johnson. The fight took place at the 02 Arena, London, just 21 days after his fight with Raphael Zumbano Love. On the buildup to the fight, Johnson said Anthony Joshua was just a ‘big baby’ and ‘He’s nothing but a grown man in a diaper, I will expose that to the world”. He also claimed that AJ was not at all on his level and had the bold statement that his corner will end the fight early or the referee will put a stop to the fight. Johnson’s prediction of the ref stopping the fight turned out to be correct just not in his favor as Anthony Joshua became the first man to knock out Kevin Johnson, something that Vitali Klitschko and Tyson couldn’t manage to do and began laughing about it while he was arguably at his best in his entire career so far in doing so.
His next opponent had won every fight in their professional career, racking up a record of 21-0 with 12 of his wins by knockout. Scottish, Gary Cornish was considered his toughest challenge so far by some but just one and a half minutes later, AJ had ended the fight and won the vacant Commonwealth heavyweight title while retaining his WBC International heavyweight title in the process. The 6’7″ giant was overwhelmed by Joshua’s speed and after just 45 seconds, Cornish had already touched the canvas. The Scot had been dropped for the second time and was back up again but was waved off.
In the build-up to the Anthony Joshua versus Dillian Whyte fight, Whyte had been throwing insults at Joshua, claiming his a fake and refused to shake AJ’s hand on the face to face press conference. AJ had the chance to avenge his amateur loss and gain the vacant British heavyweight title while having his WBC International and Commonwealth heavyweight titles on the line. Whyte came into the fight unbeaten and Joshua further into the rounds than any boxer has ever. A punch after the bell by Joshua enraged Whyte who launched an attack but was interrupted by the cornermen intervening. The next round Whyte come out with an assault of attacks that left AJ looking uneasy and vulnerable for the first time in his career but fought his way back into that with timed jabs in the third round. As the pace of the fight slowed down, Joshua found his composure picking off shots, a little easier. The seventh round Joshua had stalked Whyte who desperately tried to stay in the fight before an uppercut from Anthony Joshua ended the fight.
AJ’s next fight would be for the IBF world heavyweight title held by the American Charles Martin who had a record at the time of 23 wins with 21 coming by knockout and one draw from 24 professional boxing. Anthony Joshua immediately put pressure on the champion and It seemed only a matter of time before Charles Martin was sent to the canvas and early in the second round that’s what happened. Martin managed to beat the referee’s count, but he was back down after an underwhelming defence. Many said he was being rushed into a title fight having only fought 15 previous fights which amounted to just 32 rounds of boxing, but all the doubters were proved wrong when after just 2 rounds, AJ was the winner by knockout.
The Watford born boxers first two defences were against Americans Dominic Breazeale and Éric Molina. In the build-up to Breazeale tried to get under AJ’s skin but failed which resulted in Joshua’s 7th round knockout win. Dominic ‘trouble’ Breazeale was a tough competitor for AJ and kept coming back for more but Joshua made sure he finished the job completely, leaving the Americans face badly swollen. Eric “Drummer Boy” Molina was stopped in just 3 rounds as Anthony Joshua successfully defended his title with Wladimir Klitschko being announced as Joshua’s next opponent by Eddie Hearn. Wladimir then come out into the ring saying “Do you want to see a big fight? Do you want to see two Olympic champions in there? You got it.”
The Klitschko fight becomes his most anticipated and hyped fight of his entire career as they fought for the vacant WBA and IBO titles as well as Joshua’s IBF title. Joshua tried to take control early but neither of to two got too into the fight as expected. In the second round, Klitschko was able to soak up most of the pressure and come out looking stronger than he did against Fury. The next round comes and both fighters connecting combinations with AJ coming out on top. Joshua came out deadly and stunned Klitschko with a left hook during a marvellous combination that dropped the former heavyweight champion. Round 6, Klitschko come back strong and put Joshua down on the canvas for the first time in his entire career before bravely getting up and taking his time for the rest of the round. The next round Joshua seemed to stay cautious, keeping as much distance as he could for as long as he could. Wladimir comes out the next round looking to hurt AJ with it looking like there was no way out for Joshua but despite all this, he showed little glimmers of a comeback. Round 10 and Joshua was slowly getting back into the fight with both fighters visibly very tired at this point but Klitschko was still able to stay in control, though. Joshua landed a deadly upper cut followed by a stream of punches that dropped Wladimir for the second time in the fight and before long of getting back up, was down again. Somehow, he got back up again before the referee stopped the fight and awarded Anthony Joshua the winner by TKO.
A Klitschko rematch in Las Vegas seems to be next up for the fighter which would make his first fight outside of his home country. Some people are still hoping for the fights with Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder, Joe Parker and every other fighter he is yet to face but what is clear is AJ is one the brightest lights in the boxing world today and even bigger things are in store for the still young boxer.