21
Feb
2020

Anthony Joshua compared to 25 years of unified heavyweight champions

Phil Jay 11/02/2020
Anthony Joshua

📸 Dave Thompson

World Boxing News takes a look back at those who carved the path for current unified heavyweight champion and four-belt ruler Anthony Joshua.

The Briton, who is also a two-time title-holder, has reigned on and off since 2016. Joshua is revered as one of the best UK talents for some years.

A record-breaker, Joshua has achieved massive amounts in the numbers game. Smashing barriers between casual and regular fans on home soil in recent times.

Unheard of for UK heavy to sell out stadiums time after time, Joshua has filled Wembley Stadium and Cardiff respectively during the height of his powers.

The only downside to the reign, apart from losing his titles to Andy Ruiz Jr. on his United States debut, is the fact AJ is considered only the third-best top division puncher on the planet – despite holding all but one of the world straps.

What’s apparent is charisma goes a long way with the British faithful, something the 30 year-old has in spades.

Young fans look up to him. That’s half the battle for a promoter looking to capitalize on Olympic success in the amateurs.

Joshua had some big shoes to fill, but defeating one of those fighters during his tenure certainly elevated him to new heights.

Here’s a rundown of the last seven unified world champions and how Joshua stacks up.

ANDY RUIZ JR.

No comparison between the pair. Ruiz won simply sue to his Eye of the Tiger and Joshua’s obviously complacency the first time.

Ruiz didn’t train enough in the rematch to give himself any chance. It could be a superb trilogy provided both are in the right mental state, shape and frame of mind.

TYSON FURY

Fury’s time at the top was cut short due to a mass of red tape and a subsequent career blackout. Time will only tell if Fury can once again take his mantle as the king.

Joshua will have to one day face his British nemesis in order to fully claim his legacy before retirement.

WLADIMIR KLITSCHKO

Klitschko was on top for a decade until Joshua rival Tyson Fury came calling in 2015. Eighteen months later, Joshua ended the Ukrainian’s career in an epic tussle.

What will probably go down as Joshua’s greatest night, was the pinnacle of a five-year journey from a gold medal at London 2012.

In regards to achievement, Joshua has a long way to go before he can match-up to Klitschko’s three-time, 23 title defence run.

Lennox Lewis
📸 WBC

LENNOX LEWIS

Lots have been written about Lewis and Joshua due to their continued back and forth remarks on social media and during interviews. One thing is for certain, there are similarities between the two.

Their frame, jab and ability to dominate opponents are there for all to see. Lewis also had his frailties when hit on the chin, just as Joshua does too.

A major difference to point out would possibly be the mindset. Joshua tends to carry weight on his shoulders, whereas Lewis had a meditational mental state which helped him during big challenges.

That’s not to say Joshua can’t get there one day, but Lewis was THE ‘Pugilist Specialist’.

Joshua landing that final elusive world crown would be a start to eventually being placed on par with the great one at some point in the future.


HASIM RAHMAN

Like Andy Ruiz Jr., Rahman was an opportunist who was able to take advantage of an off-night for the champion at that time.

EVANDER HOLYFIELD

A two-weight undisputed all-time legend, there aren’t many fighters on the planet who could be compared with Holyfield. Ironically, Joshua could soon have the opportunity to stop a man bidding to equal Holyfield’s unbelievable achievements in Oleksandr Usyk.

Holyfield had an amazing chin, amazing will and a champion’s heart – seemingly from birth. All traits Joshua still has to prove during the second half of his career.

MIKE TYSON

It’s hard to say much about the mid-1990’s Mike Tyson due to the lack of real opposition faced until his match-ups with Holyfield and Lewis.

A 1980s Tyson is a far easier measuring stick. But that’s not what we saw when he came out of prison. Tyson, like Joshua, had mentality struggles to deal with in his life.

Self-esteem was one they had in common, which ultimately led to Tyson’s second downfall. Ultimately, that is a chapter yet to be written for the British superstar.

Phil Jay is Editor of World Boxing News. An Auxiliary member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay