SATURDAY NIGHT’S ALL RIGHT INDEED – It says a lot about the resurgent division that a heavyweight bout provided the biggest fireworks on the excellent, full house card at London’s O2 Arena this weekend.
It was not so much the contest, but Anthony Joshua alone, who created the excitement.
When Joshua pounded previously durable Kevin Johnson into quick submission, Joshua looked like he was well on the way to becoming a force in the post-Wladimir Klitschko era. He also looked like he could eventually be the force that causes the post-Klitschko era.
Johnson, now 29-7-1, showed up in decent shape. While he may not have resembled the lion on the shirt he wore into the ring, it did look like Johnson made an honest, if abbreviated stand, before one of the fiercest prospects in any weight class.
Joshua had a bombastic entrance, and took more time making his way down the ramp than he did dispatching his foe.
Their speed looked equal as they flicked jabs, but their power looked unequal, vastly favoring Joshua as those jabs landed. Joshua immediately backed Johnson to the ropes, but for half a round Johnson fired back equally and appeared unconcerned.
Not for long. Joshua maintained mountainous pressure with an impressive array of angles until Johnson was on his toes, retreating with a worried look and firing nothing back. At the end of the frame, Joshua dropped Johnson twice with sweet, short inside shots up and down. The first time, Johnson was up quickly and looked all right. The second time, it looked like he was lucky to get out of the opening round.
Johnson looked defiant but doomed as the second session began. Joshua came out calmly, jackhammered Johnson back into the ropes without resistance, and creamed him with half a dozen bricks to where he sat helpless until ref Ian John-Lewis rescued him for an official ending at 1:22.
Joshua may now find himself in a situation like Gennady Golovkin, with top contenders too careful of their ranking to risk an elimination bout.
There was babble about a possible match with David Price, but at this point that would be a very high risk move for Price.
Dereck Chisora, anyone? Kabrat Pulev or Bermane Stiverne could be very interesting challenges.
I haven’t heard much, if any, of the typical promotional boasting Tyson Fury specializes in being directed toward Joshua. Johnson went 12 rounds with Fury in December 2012. These days, Fury has a legitimate business interest in not risking anything before a shot at Klitschko, but Fury – Joshua could be classic.
Meanwhile, the list of potentially strong heavyweight battles keeps growing.