JOSHUA TAKES NEXT STEP AGAINST JOHNSON
By TOM WATT on May 29 2015
This weekend sees a number of huge match-ups, particularly for British fight fans with 3 World Title fights at the o2 in London on Saturday night, precluded by Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri in New York on Friday night. Even with the likes of Brook, Gavin, Selby and Mitchell all involved in World Title fights, much of the attention this week has been focused on Olympic Gold Medalist, Anthony Joshua’s step up in opposition as he looks to take on veteran of the Heavyweight ranks, Kevin ‘Kingpin’ Johnson.
So far in his professional career Anthony Joshua has blown everybody put in front of him away within 4 rounds, 12 opponents have tried and 12 opponents have been Knocked Out. There is no doubt that the heavyweight superstar has been well managed up until this point, making his way up the rankings gradually as he becomes accustomed to the pro game, but there is always a time when a big step in class has to be taken and for Joshua that time is now. If he is able to dominate and out-gun Johnson in the way he has with previous opponents then it will send a real statement to the rest of the Heavyweight division, not just in the UK but across the World.
A look at Johnson’s most recent fights perhaps don’t do the American veteran justice with losses to Tyson Fury, Dereck Chisora and Christian Hammer all coming in the last 3 years but even in those losses he has never been stopped. Earlier in his career, Johnson went 23 fights unbeaten before he was given his chance at Glory in a WBC World Heavyweight Title fight with Vitali Klitschko, losing a UD over the 12 rounds. Despite not having reached his goal of becoming Heavyweight Champion of the World, Johnson has always been well-respected and going the distance with the likes of Klitschko, Fury and Chisora are testament to his ring-craft and chin if nothing else.
Johnson has locked himself away for this camp and claims to be 100% and ready to go, stating he was only 60% when he fought Klitschko and he still took him the distance. Whether or not this is all for the cameras or whether he truly believes it we will not know until Saturday night but rumours he has been training with Tyson Fury, he should be well equipped for the size and reach disadvantage he will have against Joshua.
The build-up to this clash is also something new for Joshua, usually he is the star attraction and his opponents know to play their role – Johnson did not get that memo! In press conferences and interviews Johnson has entertained the assembled media, making predictions and jokes about how the fight will go – even offering Joshua a rematch in July once he has knocked him out and left him sleeping in the ring on Saturday night! Joshua has responded with his usual calm and composed charm and so far has not looked even slightly intimidated by the flamboyant Johnson.
Bravado and charm outside the ring are one thing but the proof is very much in the pudding, particularly in the Heavyweight division – if Joshua is able to KO Johnson or even to really put a beating on him then that statement will reverberate around the sport and it will not be long before we are talking about another jump in class that the Watford-born Olympian is taking. Massive domestic showdowns with David Price, Dereck Chisora and Tyson Fury have all already been mentioned and (in that order) would offer the perfect ladder to the World level for Joshua – Fury is currently in line to fight Klitschko so he will be fully focused on getting that Title shot, but for Price and Chisora Joshua will represent the biggest payday available to either of them, albeit one of their last if he continues on the path of destruction he is currently laying.
A punch can change everything, so far Joshua has managed to come through his first 12 fights relatively unscathed but Saturday night represents his biggest challenge to date in the form the enigmatic ‘Kingpin’ Johnson. A win will see him continue on his current trajectory with his next fight on the Scott Quigg v Kiko Martinez undercard in Manchester with a yet-to-be-named opponent. It is thought that Dillian Whyte may be the perfect opponent in July with the pairs' long-standing rivalry providing the backdrop to what would be an intriguing fight. From there it will not be long before he is knocking at the door of those big domestic fights with the likes of Tyson Fury and from there it’s only a matter of time before his name is being seriously thrown around in World Title conversations.
For now though Anthony ‘AJ’ Joshua seems to just be taking everything in his stride and is in no rush to jump ahead of his station - a true student of the game, Joshua knows that there are no shortcuts to becoming a great Champion and it is that attitude and hunger that have driven him to become the superstar he already is, Saturday night is just another step in an already impressive career of Britain’s Heavyweight Gold Medalist.
1. FLOYD MAYWEATHER JR.
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