Anthony Joshua Has Officially Arrived – Let’s get two things straight in regards to this past weekend’s Charles Martin vs. Anthony Joshua IBF heavyweight title bout. Martin, who entered the bout as the defending title holder, is a very limited fighter who lacked experience at the elite level. Joshua, who won the title via a second round KO, is the real deal. No, he is not without flaws and needs more experience, but aside from Luis Ortiz and maybe Tyson Fury, there are no heavyweights occupying the landscape that pose a monumental threat to him.
As mentioned before in this space, Joshua 16-0 (16) has the look, money, skill and marketing apparatus behind him that has already begun transforming him into the new “must see heavyweight.” His annihilation of Charles Martin was the first real step on his journey to becoming a worldwide star. If you happened to overlook it, the O2 Arena in London was mobbed and brimming with excitement in anticipation of the fight last Saturday night. Professional boxing is alive and well across the Pond and Joshua’s emergence will only enhance that.
With perhaps the exception of a first tier chin as a last line of defense, Joshua appears to have it all and at this stage of his career he’s ahead of Lennox Lewis at the same juncture of Lewis’s career. Joshua has height and length, he has good form, throws his punches with proper leverage and he can hit with both hands. He’s methodical in an almost Joe Louis manner, and like Louis he parries his opponents punches while setting them up for the right hand. His stoppage of Martin began with a counter right that he cut loose just as Martin’s right jab was reaching for him. The punch dropped Martin but he looked more stunned than hurt. When Martin got up and they resumed fighting, Joshua gave him a short shoulder feint that was more of a twitch and then let go with a quick right lead that caught Martin on the chin and dropped him again and had him discombobulated. At the count of 10, Martin was just starting to rise, but he didn’t beat the count and the bout was halted.
To an outside observer, it looked as if Martin’s people told him to go out and do the best that he could, just in case Joshua was more hype and couldn’t really fight, but at the same time forewarned him to not be too brave if he realized he was in over his head. In the end it was the wisest move on Martin’s part to defend the title against Joshua. He took on a fighter who may have been more hype than substance and he could’ve been the first to expose that. At the same time he made more money fighting Joshua in Joshua’s hometown than he would have made fighting anyone else. Charles Martin maximized winning the title and losing to the supposed next great heavyweight and that doesn’t make him a bum or kill his future.
On behalf of Anthony Joshua, he fought for the title after fighting only 32 rounds as a pro. He fought the weakest and least experienced of the title holders. He did what he was expected to do and won in an impressive fashion in front of his home fans and today he’s on his way to becoming the face of British boxing. If Philadelphia circa 1970-77 was the middleweight capitol of the boxing world, the UK is currently today’s heavyweight hotbed. Without traveling to another country, Joshua can make a fortune fighting guys like Tyson Fury, Joseph Parker, David Haye and even Shannon Briggs. Speaking of “Let’s go champ,” how smart was he to bring his traveling standup routine to London? If Briggs wins against TBA on May 21st, he may fight David Haye in his next bout. And you better believe that fight will be huge if contested at the O2 Arena.
It’s been a long time since a heavyweight captured the boxing public’s imagination. The Klitschko’s, as formidable as they were, never succeeded, and Ike Ibeabuchi turned out to be a two bedroom apartment with no furniture. Joshua seems like a well-grounded gentleman who loves to fight and box. He has a plethora of tools to work with and it seems as though his management team know what they have and what his potential is.
If you still have doubts about Joshua’s power, think about this: He only landed two good clean right hands against Martin. The first dropped Martin as if he was leg swept and the second dropped him in the same fashion and pushed him to the point of no return. There really wasn’t any feeling-out process.
“His right hand was fast I didn’t see the shot,” Martin said. “That cost the fight.” Yes, those are the ones that get you out, the ones you don’t see. Add to that Joshua throws them straight and direct with speed and power, there’s no telegraphing at all. It’s a dangerous combination on its own merit, and it’s twice as dangerous against tall heavyweights with no head movement who are waiting and reacting to him. That strategy usually finds them finishing second. And second is the wrong position to finish when you’re trading with Anthony Joshua.
After the fight Joshua said…..”It is only quarter of the way there. I am not going to get too carried away. We went two rounds. I am going to go back to the changing room to do some pads and I’ve got to keep going because we’ve got people like [David] Haye calling me out, Tyson Fury calling me out. All of them.”
Yes, Joshua knows what is out there for him. Down the road, fights with Fury and Haye will be monumental. Not to mention Deontay Wilder making the trip to London if he does fight Alexander Povetkin and beats him later this year. Joshua’s name linked to any of the heavyweights mentioned will be show stopping events and the real heavyweight money is staying in the UK. And even though there’s no reason for Joshua to leave Great Britain, his winning manner will make him a star even if he decides to fight in the US.
Anthony Joshua has officially arrived and because of him there are more than a handful of highly anticipated heavyweight clashes in the wings. It’s been a long time coming, but just maybe boxing will be governed by the big guys again. A heavyweight with looks and charisma who can really punch and seeks to test himself against the best opposition — never misses.
Frank Lotierzo can be reached at GlovedFist@Gmail.com