Ahead of his titanic clash with Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley why Anthony Joshua is what the mainstream media have craved and more.
This time last year, Tyson Fury was ruling the boxing world, announcing a rematch with Wladimir Klitschko in Manchester to repeat his sensational victory in Dusseldorf just 5 months prior.
But now it is Anthony Joshua’s chance to prevail against the kingpin of Heavyweight boxing since Lennox Lewis exited the sport on top.
To many, Joshua represents the changing of the guard in Heavyweight boxing. In truth that should have been Fury, but his own personal issues and for much of the media his face just didn’t fit.
His colourful approach didn’t fit on Breakfast in the morning, and for some it was too much to even see Tyson get his rightful place on Sports Personality of the Year – an honour well deserved following his heroic win on away soil.
But Joshua fits every category. A good looking, well-spoken and humble boxer that refuses to bad mouth opponents, or live the celebrity lifestyle.
AJ is exactly what the mainstream media has been looking for, a man in so many ways can be compared to the beloved Frank Bruno.
But to reach that goal, Joshua is part of a two-way act with the former undisputed king of the division. And Ukraine’s Wladimir Klitschko is – in his own words – “obsessed” with victory this Saturday night.
It is easy to sit back now and claim that one could see Klitschko 64-4(53KO’s) slowly slipping to the clutches of father time prior to his loss against Fury.
But in truth, Wlad was just taking care of the little challenges he had from a Heavyweight division that was struggling for star power.
Joshua highlights via Boxing Legends TV YouTube:
Fast forward nearly 18 months on and the division is lighting up – with Joshua, Deontay Wilder and Luis Ortiz at the ready to take their shot at being the number 1 in the division.
And before we continue to right off Klitschko’s career, let us consider that Tyson Fury is a pretty darn good fighter in his own right, who could handle himself – if not beat – all comers at Heavyweight when he is at his best, like he was on 28th November 2015.
Also take into account that it was still a razor thin close decision that Klitschko lost by, and considering he barely pulled the trigger with his right hand all night, that still highlights how good he is with both the jab and neutralising his opponents’ attacks.
For Joshua 18-0(18KO’s), we are still in the dark as to just how good the 2012 Olympic Gold medallist really is.
The Eric Molina’s and Dominic Breazeale’s were never going to answer those questions for us, but they did highlight the gulf in class between those highly ranked challengers and the champion.
This fascinating contest is likely to come down to two factors that will be answered over the course of the contest at Wembley Stadium. How much does Klitschko have left, and how good is Anthony Joshua?
If Klitschko is indeed in decline – no matter how slow – he will be beaten, possibly inside the distance by the fresher man. Wlad will win rounds, but Joshua’s speed and power will prove crucial as the fight steadily heads into the second half.
But if Joshua is still climbing the other side of the mountain to reach his peak then his lack of experience against a foe that even slightly resembles Klitschko will prove pivotal as he winds up being outscored convincingly by the veteran challenger.
There is such a fine balance between victory and defeat, and it is a balance that neither fighter can do much about. If time has taught us anything it is that youth often prevails.
The young lion so often takes over from his elder. Therefore, it looks set for Joshua to take over the division, sending Klitschko into retirement following a fantastic, hall of fame career.
But boxing very rarely follows normal conventions, and so long as there is a roar left in the older warrior, there is a chance he can emerge victorious even against a foe so much fresher.
As the saying goes, where there is a will, there is a way. And there is certainly plenty of will left in this 41-year old fighter.
Joshua creates far different problems to what Fury brought in Germany, but they are problems that Klitschko is far more experienced at dealing with.
Tactics will be vital to determine the winner of the jab, and the winner in the jabbing category is likely to be in a better spot to land their ramrod right hand.
Following a cagey start, Wlad will begin to find his range as Joshua possibly shows slightly too much respect for the boxing skill and power of Klitschko.
But the tentative pick is for Joshua to pull a victory out of the bag as he slowly but surely begins to connect on the chin of Klitschko.
A dramatic finish could be in store as narrowly behind on the cards, Joshua floors the Ukrainian and finishes the contest in round 10 to lift his name to the top of the Heavyweight division.
Anthony Joshua is what the media have wanted in a heavyweight champion in sometime now. It’s all up to him now.