by Nedu Obi
Anthony Joshua’s trajectory to within inches of the heavyweight apogee has been nothing short of remarkable.
The former Olympic super-heavyweight gold medallist made the transition to the pro ranks a little over 12 months after representing his country Great Britain in the aforementioned event.
His pro debut was nothing to write home about, however, the boy from Watford, Hertfordshire, England displayed brute strength in dispatching the hapless Emanuele Leo in 2:47 of the opening stanza.
One by one they fell – in the same destructive and merciless fashion.
Then along came Dillian Whyte; his nemesis from back in the day. At the time, Joshua was 14-0, with 14 stoppages to boot.
Nothing could go wrong right?
Well in the second round of their grudge match it almost did, if only for several seconds – a sweet counter left hook from Whyte rocked the 6’6″ man mountain, nonetheless, he showed his mettle – weathered the storm, and in the seventh, eventually lit Whyte up with a picture perfect right uppercut.
It was also the first time Joshua had been past the half way mark.
Following the Whyte blitz, Joshua was proffered newly minted IBF heavyweight champion Charles “Prince” Martin.
The date; April 9th, 2016.
All told, it wasn’t much of a contest by any stretch. Most were hoping to see improvements in the burgeoning heavyweight, but the undefeated Martin (23-1-1, 21 KOs) failed to turn up, and Joshua obliged by dismantling the American in two one-sided rounds.
For the first defence of his IBF crown (Jun. 25, 2016), Joshua clashed with another unbeaten American; Dominic “Trouble” Breazeale (18-1, 16 KOs), an even lesser known heavyweight than his previous victim Martin.
No “Trouble” for the 27-year-old, as again he rose to the occasion – starching Breazeale in seven.
Dec. 10, 2016: It was thought Eric “Drummer Boy” Molina would be Joshua’s stiffest test to date, it was anything but.
Albeit Molina (25-4, 19 KOs) had shared the ring with the likes of reigning WBC heavyweight champ Deontay Wilder (losing via ninth-round KO), he was no match for the increasingly confident Joshua – lights out in round three.
As stated earlier, Joshua’s rise through the ranks in such a short space of time is quite outstanding – winning the IBF strap in his sixteenth professional outing, followed by two successful title defences.
All the same, skill wise, Joshua still has some cracks in his game that need shoring up, and those cracks had better be papered over when he locks horn with pugilistic heavyweight deity Wladimr Klitschko on April 29th, 2017.
At 40, this is/could be Klitschko’s last hurrah, and it’s a sure-fire bet the former undisputed heavyweight king will bring his A-game to the four-squared ring.
It’s all to play for – Joshua’s IBF belt and the vacant WBA (Super) and IBO crowns.
This can go either way – “AJ” has the power as does “Dr. Steelhammer, however, Klitschko (64-4, 53 KOs) has twenty odd years of boxing experience – fighting IQ and so on and so forth.
However, this old lion by boxing standards, is a little long in the tooth – evinced by his below par performance against Tyson Fury fifteen months ago where he relinquished all his titles.
In Joshua (18-0, 18 KOs), Klitschko is up against a ferocious and hungry young lion that wants to establish his own heavyweight fiefdom – this is Joshua’s time – he will not be denied.
Expect Joshua to read the old man a bedtime story sometime during the fight, because he’s bound for glory.
Et venit, vidit vicit!