When Tyson Fury captured the majority of the headlines in World boxing just two weeks previously when outpointing Wladimir Klitschko to claim the IBO, IBF and WBA versions of the heavyweight title, it was viewed as a turning point in the sport as Eastern European domination of the division appeared to have ended. Another British fighter David Haye has since announced the end of his self-imposed exile from boxing but it is fellow countryman Anthony Jushua who could emerge as genuine threat to Manchester-born Fury in the next 12 or more months.
When winning the Super Heavyweight gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics, Joshua was enticed to follow a professional career and in 14 previous fights prior to this weekend, he had never ventured beyond the third round having stopped all selected opponents with relative ease. He was portrayed as the good guy of the sport as a plan was outlined detailing his path to becoming World Heavyweight boxing champion.
For his 15th professional bout, Joshua met the unbeaten Dillian Whyte for the British title at that weight on Saturday evening, but Whyte had beaten the Olympic champion during their earlier amateur days six years previously. As is the case with several boxing clashes these days, the fight was billed as contest between the clean living hopeful and his controversial opponent who had served a drug related suspension for a year. There was also an apparent distaste for each other which the media characteristically sought to expose.
As the boxers appeared for the first round of the fight, Joshua appeared the fitter and more athletic of the two contestants and proved sharper in the opening exchanges although a late punch at the end of the three minutes, delivered by Joshua, clearly upset his opponent with security people invading the ring to settle both fighters.
Thereafter, the second round proved to be much more challenging for Joshua than in any action during his previous fights. Whyte was countering with effective punches and for once the unbeaten Joshua needed to take a step backwards.
Perhaps his corner attendants instilled into Joshua the need to use the left-right combination punches to exert more control into the fight, as in subsequent rounds, Whyte connected with fewer deliveries with his opponent settling into a rhythm designed for a longer fight.
With Whyte visibly tiring in the seventh round, Joshua eventually caught his opponent with well-timed right punch to the temple followed soon afterwards by an uppercut to the chin of Whyte which ended the contest. For the first time in his short boxing career, Joshua had been tested by another boxer. He will have gained valuable experience from this bout and may be destined to challenge Tyson Fury in the not too distant future.
Yet Saturday’s fight did expose some shortcomings with Anthony Joshua most notably with a lack of head movement and his open defences at times, and these faults need to be eradicated with more experience and preparation fights before he is really considered World Heavyweight Championship material.