Why a Lennox Lewis harsh reality bomb still rings true for Anthony Joshua

Anthony Joshua Lennox Lewis

@anthonyjoshua

Lennox Lewis attempted to hand down some wise words of wisdom to Anthony Joshua that were not taken at the time and have not transpired since.

The last undisputed heavyweight champion dished out his version of a harsh truth to his fellow Brit just after Joshua had conquered the title.

Lewis, who has butted heads with both Joshua and his promoter Eddie Hearn over the handling of the Londoner’s career, offered solid advice.

However, AJ didn’t take it on board then, and the unified ruler still hasn’t adopted the notion that cracking America is the way to go.

Sadly, Joshua’s only jaunt across the Atlantic ended with him flat on his backside and damaging his reputation.

What many believe he should have done was go back to the United States and beat conqueror Andy Ruiz Jr. outside of his comfort zone to prove he doesn’t freeze stateside on the biggest stage in boxing.

Before Joshua suffered the loss and avenged it in Saudi Arabia, Lennox Lewis was adamant the Olympic gold medalist should leave the UK behind and not get stuck in a rut of home defenses.

LENNOX LEWIS ADVICE

“The Puligist Specialist” also wanted Joshua to do more to secure a massive clash with Deontay Wilder, which collapsed in 2018. Similarly to an attempt to face Tyson Fury this year.

“Joshua is the man to beat in the division. He’s a marketer’s dream and has great looks and personality,” said Lewis at the time.

Lennox Lewis
Stewart Cook/Fox Sports

“All this is great when packaging him as a product. But as a fighter who’s been there, I find it a bit difficult to understand why Joshua wasn’t as pressed to lift that WBC belt from Wilder as he was to get the IBF belt from Charles Martin.

“Everybody has the right to be a champion in their own way. So I wish him all the best. I want to see him go after the undisputed title with the same urgency to consolidate all the other belts.

“Of course, boxing is a business. But there was usually no conflict in fighting the best and lining your pockets at the same time.

“I’ve found that fighting the best built my legacy and did well for my bank account. Fine wine, baby!

KLITSCHKO MODEL

“Right now, Joshua is a big fish swimming in a little pond. They are using the model that the Klitschko’s had in Germany and applying it to England.

“I’m not mad at that. But even the Klitschko brothers fought in other countries. As a world champion, he has to come out of his comfort zone.

“I don’t blame him for being leery about coming to America. Especially if you go by the bad judging decisions that happen there in so many fights, but at some point, if he wants to achieve a worldwide box office status, he will have to fight in front of audiences outside of the UK.

“The funny thing is that Joshua may truly be the best of the bunch. But we won’t know until he starts talking sense for the event fights.

Anthony Joshua Charles Martin
Lawrence Lustig

“I understand that promoters must have a plan mapped out for their fighters, and Eddie has done well by Joshua up to now. But at some point, you have to stop milking the cow. Let him do what bulls do.

“It’s also on the fighter to take the bull by the ‘Hearn’ and say ‘make this fight!’ That’s how legacies get built.

“If that doesn’t happen, then we know that it’s just about milking the British fans for as much money as possible instead of bringing the undisputed heavyweight championship of the world back home to them for the second time in their lifetime, just that simple,” the legend concluded.

ANTHONY JOSHUA MANDATORY

Joshua again green lights a mandatory fight in his backyard, in which he begins a massive favorite. Since winning his first strap, six of Joshua’s next eight defenses used this model.

In only the Wladimir Klitschko event, against an aged champion who retired soon after, has Joshua gone into a contest in any real danger. That was four years ago.

He did take a smidgeon of Lewis’ advice in 2019 by stepping out in New York. Unfortunately, AJ roundly fell flat on his face.

Until he plucks up the courage to go back, hopefully for a trilogy with Ruiz, a recognized three-belt heavyweight champion will not be revered in the US market for the first time in the history of the sport.

Anthony Joshua still has time to prove Lennox Lewis wrong.

Phil Jay is the Editor of WBN. An Auxiliary member of the Boxing Writers Association of America since 2018. And a member of the Sports Journalists’ Association. Follow on Twitter @PhilJWBN.