Could Anthony Joshua be the saviour that boxing’s blue ribbon division has been desperately been looking for?
The heavyweight division had until the recent world title contest in London lost its appeal. Gone were the days when Muhammad Ali, George Foreman. Joe Frazier, and Mike Tyson, among others, dominated boxing over other divisions.
The down slide on the popularity and patronage of the heavyweight division could be attributed to the absence of credible heavyweight boxers who can attract boxing fans to watch them fight.
I must say that by the time the first gong of the Wladimir Klitschko versus Anthony Joshua fight, my reservations remained. I just couldn’t see any of the two giants disproving me.
I must confess that I was totally wrong. Joshua and Klitschko gave us a good treat. In many ways the fight evoked memories of those great boxing nights.
The fight was nowhere close to the one sided affairs that have lately dominated the sport. Each of the fighters this time gave his best.
Rounds five and six featured some of the best heavyweight action since Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis — the latter two sitting ringside that night— ruled the division.
Klitschko who had barely thrown any power punches before the knockdown, came back to make the end of the fifth round interesting and knocked Joshua down in the next round.
In many ways these rounds evoked memories of one of the greatest slug fests ever.
The 1976 battle between George Foreman and Ron Lyle had both fighters floored more than once as bombs were unleashed. Foreman eventually won by knockout after five electrifying rounds.
In many ways Joshua showed similar will. That he could recover from a count and go on to win was a bold message of the true champion in him.
Joshua actually even looked tired by the end of the seventh round. Virtually no one predicted that he was saving his best for the late rounds.
His composure and finally eleventh round victory has all the markings of a start of a long new reign. And there is more to it than just boxing prowess.
Like someone said, the towering Briton has a full package. He has a killer right hand; a lion’s heart and that radiant smile that is every sponsor’s dream.
It is however also at this point that Joshua must get his bearings right.
Remaining focused while in possession of one of the most prized sports crowns is a test many have failed.
With loads of wealth and adulation comes untold pressures and scrutiny that can change people into different animals.
Becoming great is one thing and remaining great is yet another. My prayer is that Joshua remains focused.
With discipline he will certainly treat us to many more great fights nights. Prayers in the Sweet Science for a saviour seem to be finally getting an answer.