Anthony Joshua aims to join select band of two-time heavyweight champs
Former world heavyweight ruler Anthony Joshua is aiming to join a select band of two-time champions at 200 pounds plus.
The Britain, who claimed the IBF belt in April 2016 at the age of 26, went on to add the IBO and WBA versions in an epic battle with Wladimir Klitschko.
Fast forward another eleven months, and Joshua picked up the WBO version when defeating Joseph Parker on points.
In June 2019 against Andy Ruiz Jr. in New York, Joshua’s world fell apart in a disastrous showing at Madison Square Garden.
Down four times in the fight, Joshua surrendered his position as the top division king to Mexico’s first-ever heavyweight title holder.
In little under three months time, AJ gets the chance to sit alongside some of the greats if he can get revenge in Saudi Arabia.
Bookmakers’ odds suggest the Olympic gold medalist will prevail. Joshua is 1/3 on for victory. Ruiz is a 5/2 against underdog but significantly less than the 10/1 he was for the initial bout.
In what could turn out to be a plus for Joshua, as champions must first lose in order to be given the opportunity, a place alongside the likes of Floyd Patterson, Muhammad Ali, Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield awaits.
Others to achieve the feat include Tim Witherspoon, Michael Moorer and George Foreman. Riddick Bowe, Mike Tyson, Herbie Hide and Chris Byrd also managed it.
More recent additions to the list are John Ruiz, Vitali Klitsckho, brother Wladimir, Hasim Rahman, and Nikolai Valuev.
It’s ironic that Joshua could emulate Lewis after the pair endured a very public spat recently.
Labelling Lewis ‘a clown’, Joshua was highly disrespectful to the last man to fully unify the glamour division.
Not wanting to antagonize Joshua, Lewis took the mature option and attempted to cool things down.
“Anyone in his (Joshua’s) ear about what I have to say are just distractions from the task at hand. #Undisputed
“They must know this creates more unnecessary stress. Don’t be an obedient target to the things that take you off your individual path to greatness.
“This so-called feud between me and Joshua is just what some people want to see. People want me to come back at this youth and put him in his place.
“I just want to tell him to look around you. Don’t fall into those traps,” he said.
Joining Lewis as one of only three Brits to ever pull off the feat would be a fitting end to the feud if Joshua can be successful on December 7.
Phil Jay is Editor of World Boxing News. Also an Auxiliary member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay