Written By Bakari Simpson: Tonight is an exciting fight night eve for Anthony Joshua nicknamed “AJ” (18-0, 18 KO’s) fans. Ideally, tomorrow he will establish himself as a premiere heavyweight champion. Or, he might just as likely prove he’s still merely a formidable upstart with much to learn. Although, ahead of the enormous Wembley showdown, the stars do appear to be aligned in Joshua’s favor.
The first trait everyone notices when they glimpse AJ is his immense size. Typically, this heavily corded brand of body builder muscles prevent standard boxers from performing effectively. Especially down the stretch in a tight, tit for tat battle. Incidentally, this is not the case with the UK sensation. Rather than a stiffly operating but powerful oaf, Joshua is shockingly lithe and fleet of foot. In this regard Joshua brings to mind terribly muscular, but loose limbed, fighters such Ike Ibeabuchi, Tim Bradley or an in-prime Roy Jones. Footage of the smiling giant effortlessly doing Robert Duran themed, low bouncing jump rope exercises was particularly remarkable.
There is a great hubbub concerning the colossal amount of experience Wlad will carry into the ring. The underling logic holds that the wily veteran should be able to pull a trick from the hat and potentially school AJ. This possible script does retain merit; Wlad has amassed a decorated resume. Even so, Joshua will be far from unprepared. Over the course of his past 5 five fights Anthony has exhibited impressive growth.
The notion that Joshua’s recent dance partners have prepared him for Dr. Steelhammer would make the masses scoff. In rebuttal, the same was said about Daniel Jacobs’s adversaries prior to his Brooklyn war with GGG. It’s this writer’s contention that Joshua is fully prepared for the task at hand.
Of those five contests his showdowns with Dillian Whyte, Charles Martin and Dominic Breazeale were the most valuable.
Delving deeper into these distinctive three fights, the dust-up with Whyte was the most affirming. It was the under the hot lights of his second home, the O2 Arena, that Joshua fought his former foe. As amateurs Dillian defeated Joshua and he had a mind to double-up. During their second scrap, however, Anthony Joshua enjoyed quick success. In just the second round Anthony’s offense was clicking. Utilizing an impressive array of punches he was obviously hurting Whyte early on. Whyte demonstrated his mettle by surviving the initial storm in strong fashion.
Not only did he survive, Dillian managed to clip and buzz Anthony Joshua with a sly hook.
The smarting strike and heavy follow-up blows that Whyte landed in that second round made Joshua a better fighter. From that sequence forward, Anthony has been much more responsible when managing a hurt opponent or fighting in general. It also illustrated that his chin is no play-toy. Similar to Nore and all his podcast guests, AJ can take a few big shots!
After shaking the blows off Anthony would go on to tear apart his former conqueror. Not only did he lay Whyte low, Joshua concussed him with a picture perfect uppercut before a sold out venue. In that moment, when the pressure was assuredly on full blast, Joshua performed in soldier-like fashion. It was a good look and impressive win.
In his very next fight, which was quicker than nurses a smoke break, AJ become the IBF champion. The fact that nearly the entire boxing world as a whole laugh at the effort Martin presented is irrelevant. Anthony Joshua was a champion and the newly added attention, pressure, money and confidence came with it.
AJ’s following battle with Dominic Breazeale was an excellent preparatory bout ahead of Wladimir Klitschko. True, Wlad has loads more power and experience, but that’s the point. Or, more to the essential matter, Dominic is one inch taller and a half an inch longer than Wlad. This contest provided Anthony Joshua a wonderful opportunity to scrap in a real fight with someone utilizing Klitschko’s near identical dimensions. Furthermore, this was a fight were AJ couldn’t just run his opponent over.
To his credit, Dominic was tough. In the face of being heavily outgunned, out maneuvered and hampered with swollen eyes Breazeale pressed forward. He was getting kicked around the ring like Eek the Cat yet remained unyielding as a project pit-bull. Early enough in the bout, you almost saw Anthony recognize that a knockout would not be easy. Joshua had to respect Breazeale’s durability and heart; he was forced into the role of a selective, calculating stalker.
As a reward for his due diligence to patience and tact Anthony scored a 7th round knockout.
Personally, I believe that Anthony Joshua is in a marvelous place mentally, physically and professionally. This will be his third title defense in one of the biggest events in UK boxing history. The young man has got to be feeling himself! He understands the task that is in front of him. With his great physical gifts, calm in-ring demeanor and tremendous momentum Anthony Joshua is certainly in a prime position to finish Wlad off.
Only time will tell what actually happens…
Bakari Simpson INSTAGRAM: @s.larry_love FACEBOOK: Bakari Simpson