Joshua’s reign: Tweak the Klitschko blueprint, keep the excitement
It took the guidance of a mastermind trainer to stem a run of bad knockouts on the record of Wladimir Klitschko early in his career as the late, great Emanuel Steward took the Ukrainian to divisional dominance for almost a decade.
Klitschko was humiliated on three occasions before Steward took over his mentoring in 2004 (until his death in 2012) and help mould one of the most focused and mentally strong heavyweights from a rough diamond with several flaws.
It just so happens his latest opponent, Anthony Joshua was a similar age to ‘Dr. Steelhammer’ when Klitschko began the process of cleaning up the division, something that is highly possible for the Londoner.
‘AJ’ was not only involved in, but came through against all odds in one of the greatest top division battles of recent memory, and now stands on the cusp of being the most recognized boxer in the world.
Like his inspiration, Muhammad Ali, Joshua has the crossover appeal that comes with good looks, a likeable personality and skills in the ring, although his defensive frailties will need immediate addressing by Robert McCracken.
A top GB coach, McCracken has been instrumental in preparing the younger generation, including Joshua, for the Olympics and was the main man when Carl Froch previously sold out Wembley Stadium in 2014.
It’s no secret Carl Froch had an iron jaw, but no so for Joshua as first Dillian Whyte and now Klitschko have proven, meaning McCracken will have to make sure the Watford man refrains from shipping punches as much as he has done so far in his pro career.
Joshua likes a tear-up, and that’s part of the reason why people love him, so taking that away somewhat will need to be finely balanced to avoid the Londoner going down the boring route Klitschko did when stifling the ranks for so long.
All the ingredients are there though, and have already taken Joshua to the highest point on the mountain – so just a few tweaks need to be amended in order for Great Britain to secure a long-reigning champion for the foreseeable future.
Phil Jay is Editor of World Boxing News. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay