On Saturday April 29th Anthony Joshua went toe to toe with boxings’ most dominant heavyweight of the last decade Wladamir Klitschko. Joshua came out on top in an exciting prize fight that actually lived up to the massive hype that built continually until fight day. This fight was capable of becoming a stinker and possible hug fest but both fighters gave everything they had and more to the enormous 90,000 seat crowd. Fans at Wembley got their money’s worth and they had this guy, (me) jumping up and down, screaming at the television.
The heavyweight division is traditionally beloved by boxing fans, but has had it’s share of failures. There have many multiple champions that are generally unknown, champions that refuse to risk losing, and fighters that choose only to fight if it makes the proper business sense, leaving a bad taste in the mouths of boxing fans.
Then in steps Joshua, 19-0, 19 KO’s, a young guy from the U.K. who looks the part, puts his money where his mouth is, and possibly finished Klitschko’s career who, everyone liked to say they wanted to fight but never did, (excluding Tyson Fury). In a culture where boxing fans are used to hearing how boxers want to challenge themselves but are let down when monetary issues or geographical complications get in the way, Anthony Joshua refused to let us down. It is an exciting time for boxing because Joshua is leading the way out of the dark Mayweather/Pacquiao, GGG/Canelo holdout tunnel and into the light of an era of true challenges. This could be a new dawn of fighters giving everything they have in the ring in order to please themselves, and shake up the boxing world. This much needed boost would be great all around for boxing business and for the health of the sport in general. When a fighter challenges themselves, gives an exciting performance, gets knocked down but pushes to get back up amid fans cheering and jumping out of their seats until the unpredictable end……well, it just does not get any better than that. Joshua/Klitschko put on the kind of show that is exactly what keeps boxing on a level it should be, winning fans over rather than fighters running around the ring buying time when they are a few rounds ahead in order to get a closer than anticipated win leaving fans alternately yawning and booing. (Yeah I’m talking about you Thurman).
Hopefully some of these other fighters were inspired or at least took notes on how to become a true champion (and household name). Hopefully Joshua continues leading on this path, leaving behind Garcia/Salka, Mayweather/Berto or the Pac/Horn style of match up far behind us as we embark on this new day. Time will tell if this moment will become a lasting trend in boxing or remain a tease filling the hearts of boxing fans with hope for renewed faith in our beloved sport.
All Hail the new heavyweight king Anthony Joshua with much respect to both fighters giving all they had to us on Saturday night. It truly was a breath of fresh air.
Steven “the bad guy” McCowan