By Scott Gilfoid: British heavyweight Anthony Joshua (12-0, 12 KOs) bristles at the suggestion that he’s just a fighter who is mainly focused on his power game. Joshua hasn’t shown a lot of finesse since turning pro. Each fight follows a similar pattern with Joshua coming against an older fighter in his 40s, and then he unloads with a flurry of shots to stop the poor sap.
But now Joshua is saying his game isn’t based on power; instead it’s based on boxing ability. Of course, we haven’t seen any of that from the 6’6” Joshua, because he usually rushes his mostly elderly opponents and flurries until they drop.
This Saturday, Joshua fights 35-year-old Kevin Johnson (29-6-1, 14 KOs) at the O2 Arena in London, UK. Compared to some of the guys that Joshua has fought, Johnson is on the young side. The reason why boxing fans are somewhat interested in this fight is because Johnson at least has the talent to block the arm punches that Joshua mostly throws.
Fans want to see if Joshua can fight a long 10 to 12 round bout without freezing up and blowing a piston. Joshua has put on a lot of muscle since he turned pro and he’s now weighing 245. While other fighters like Lennox Lewis and Wladimir Klitschko put muscle on without it slowing them down, it’s clearly slowed Joshua down. He was never fast to begin with, but he’s definitely slowed with the new muscle weight that he’s quickly put on. He’s not admitting that he’s bodybuilding, but when you see a fighter put muscle on that fast, it makes you wonder if that fighter is focusing more on bodybuilding rather than boxing training.
“I work a lot on my skills and technique,” Joshua said to Skysports.com. “My whole boxing career’s not just based on raw power – if that was the case I’d be in a bodybuilding gym. My coach has worked time and time again in the gym with me, telling me if I throw my jab this way I’m going to get countered.”
The thing is we don’t know what Joshua is working on. If we followed him around 24/7, we could find out if Joshua was spending 2 to 4 hours a day in a bodybuilding gym pumping weights rather than working on his boxing training. Lifting a bunch of weights for hour and hour is fine if you’re a football player or involved with another sport like track or wrestling, but for boxing I don’t think it’s helpful. He needs to be working on his speed and quickness because the new muscles that Joshua has put on has slowed him down in my view, and made him look tight and constricted.
Joshua reminds me a lot of a bigger version of Frank Bruno. That’s fine and everything, but the last time I checked, Bruno didn’t have a great boxing career. I mean, he fought well at the very start of his career when he was facing the same type of weak opposition that Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn has been feeding him, but Bruno did not do well when he stepped it up against the 1st tier fighters like James “Bone Crusher” Smith, Mike Tyson, Tim Witherspoon and Lennox Lewis.
Kevin Johnson has lost 4 out of his last 5 fights. I’m not sure if that’s why Hearn picked him out for Joshua. Obviously, it’s not good that Johnson has lost that many fights, especially with boxing fans having to pay to see this fight card. You’d like to see Joshua fight someone who is actually winning their fights, and someone with ranking in the top 15.