Anthony Joshua’s O2 Arena show proves to be the hot UK ticket

Matt Horan 14/04/2016

Lawrence Lustig

Anthony Joshua demolished Charles Martin inside two rounds at London’s O2 Arena last Saturday night to capture the IBF heavyweight world title in just his sixteenth contest.

Joshua (16-0, 16 KO) became Britain’s sixth heavyweight world champion and the first to achieve that feat as a British Olympic champion.

The 26-year old won the title and maintained his perfect record in the professional game by twice knocking Martin down with a big right hand, before the referee waved off the fight after one minute and 32 seconds of the second round.

With the record-breaking ticket sales and widespread media attention, it was clear before the night that the Watford fighter was already a touted superstar.

Even so, when legendary ring announcer Michael Buffer began his usual proceedings for the showpiece event, the atmosphere suggested that Joshua’s popularity was growing still.

With football manager Jose Mourinho and heavyweight favourites Frank Bruno and David Haye watching on from ringside, it was evident that a Joshua fight was now one of the hottest tickets in town.

With all eyes and expectation on the challenger, Joshua showed no signs of nerves as he calmly made his way to the ring with what is now becoming his familiar trademark smile.

Where Joshua was cheered and applauded, Martin was unsurprisingly booed every step of the way.

Once Buffer finished his introductions and the national anthems had concluded, it was finally time for the two to get down to business.

Joshua, sporting white shorts, was the quicker out the blocks and he looked to establish his left jab early on, seemingly waiting for any opportunity to throw a big right hand.

Martin on the other hand, looked tentative and his southpaw stance was not troubling Joshua as many had presumed it would.

As his right hands were met with a roar of approval from the crowd, Joshua bossed the opener.

In the second round, what now seemed the inevitable happened in a flash as one of those rights floored the champ, before the same trick happened just seconds later.

With that, the fight was over and the O2 erupted in joyous celebration.

Joshua proved again that he is a box office fit and he handily dropped the names of Haye and Tyson Fury after the fight, much to the fans delight.

The main event had almost overshadowed what was a busy undercard.

Londoner George Groves produced an impressive fourth round stoppage over previously unbeaten David Brophy and went some way to reaffirm his position as an elite super middleweight.

The 28-year old dictated affairs from the off and worked behind a formidable job to comfortably tee off on Brophy.

The damage started to show on the face of the Scot in the third round and in the fourth a powerful right – followed by a swift combination – was enough for the referee to wave it off.

It was Groves’ second win under the tutelage of trainer Shane Mcguigan and in winning the WBA international belt the pair will now be seeking a fourth world title shot.

Lee Selby got off the floor to earn a unanimous points decision over Philadelphia’s Eric Hunter to retain his IBF featherweight world title.

The Welshman recovered well after being dropped by a big left hook in the second and benefited from a points deduction for Hunter later on in the fight.

It was the first time Selby had hit the canvas in his career but he switched on after it and steadily began to control the fight thereafter. Hunter, nicknamed ‘The Outlaw’, received his deduction for repeated low blows.

Jamie McDonnell comfortably overcame late replacement Fernando Vargas to make the fourth successful defence of his WBA bantamweight title and further stake his claims to being the best 118lb fighter on the planet.

The Doncaster man gradually broke the resistance of the Mexican with sharp and crisp combinations, before the referee had seen enough in the ninth round following another hurtful flurry of punches.

Conor Benn made his much anticipated debut and looked the part as he blasted his opponent out in the first.

Operating at super lightweight, Benn showed speed and power and will have already drawn comparisons to dad Nigel’s front foot fighting style.

Matthew Macklin edged a hard-fought close decision over Brian Rose to put his retirement plans on hold for a while yet.

It was a grueling fight that saw both men docked points and left both with plenty of battle scars. Macklin had the higher work rate and ultimately got the final verdict.

Elsewhere, Ohara Davies stopped Andy Keates in the fourth round to win the English lightweight title and Ted Cheeseman continued his rise in the professional ranks with the third stoppage of his four-fight career.

Matt Horan is lead writer for WBN. Follow on Twitter @mhoran123