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Anthony Joshua: I’m following the path legends walked

Anthony Joshua Joseph Parker Joshua vs. Parker

By Allan Fox: Anthony Joshua was quick to give himself credit for his victory over Joseph Parker last Saturday night in Cardiff, Wales. Joshua (21-0, 20 KOs) says he’s walking the path of legends with him unifying the heavyweight division. Joshua came into the Parker (24-1, 18 KOs) as the IBF/WBA heavyweight champion, but after beating him, he won the WBO belt and he now has 3 of the 4 division world titles. Joshua needs the WBC title to unify the division completely.

Joshua sounds deluded. Unfortunately, Joshua looked stiff, robotic and inaccurate with his punches against Parker last night. It wasn’t the stuff of legends, believe me. Joshua looked more like an awkward, unskilled fighter, who was getting by with his size and power rather than his boxing skills and ring IQ. Joshua won the fight mostly because Parker was unable to get close enough to land his shots. Parker couldn’t get to Joshua, and when he did, he had the referee preventing him from letting his punches go. Joshua kept the fight on the outside, and won a boring 12 round decision. Joshua wasn’t the exciting fighter that you would expect from someone walking the path of the legends of boxing. There aren’t too many legends in the sport who were dull and safety-first fighters like we saw from Joshua against Parker. If Joshua continues to fight like what we saw in the Parker fight, he’s going to lose his boxing fans quick. You have to remember that in the UK, the people have to pay to watch Joshua fight on Sky Box Office. They pay hoping to see an exciting fight. In other words, they expect to see a fighter walking the patch of legends. Joshua didn’t fight like that in his last two fights against Parker and Carlos Takam, and he wasn’t impressive against Wladimir Klitschko either.

Joshua’s stock dropped last night. He couldn’t land his power shots against Parker, and was forced to stay on the outside and control the fight with his jab. Joshua and the referee had Parker neutralized and unable to do anything in the last half of the bout. The referee was a part of the victory for Joshua with the way he kept Parker exchanging in close. Joshua needs to fight guys that are stationary like Dominic Breazeale, Eric Molina and Dillian Whyte for him to do really well. Parker wasn’t that type of guy. He used a lot of movement in the same way Wladimir did to frustrate Joshua and expose his limitations as a fighter. Joshua couldn’t hit Parker with his big shots, and out of frustration we saw him resorting to trying to hit on the break with uppercuts. Joshua’s stamina wasn’t tested by Parker because he wasn’t putting him under enough duress to get him out of breath. Parker let Joshua fight at a slow enough pace where he didn’t have to worry about exhausting himself. Fighters like Joshua and Saul Canelo Alvarez can look good when they’re not being forced to fight at a fast pace.

It doesn’t sound good for Joshua to be talking about following in the path of greatness at this early period in his career. Joshua is just now starting to finally face good opposition, and he’s looked underwhelming in each occasion. Joshua has had 3 fights against B-level fighters – Wladimir Klitschko, Carlos Takam and Joseph Parker – and he’s looked only marginally better than those guys. When one thinks of fighters that were legendary, they don’t picture a guy that was barely better than their opposition like Joshua. They think of fighters that were destroying their opponents like Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis, Joe Louis, Holmes, Wladimir Klitschko and Jack Dempsey.

Joshua still has a long ways to go before he can be compared to great heavyweights in the past. The one thing that is holding Joshua back is his lack of quality opposition on his resume. Parker is just a B-level heavyweight, and Joshua had problems beating him. Joshua’s win over Wladimir came when he was old and many years removed from the prime of his career.

Joshua’s resistance to take risks with his career is an obstacle that will keep him from becoming a legend in boxing. Joshua gets defensive when given feedback by others, which is a sign that he’s being told by boxing fans and his peers. That stubborn resistance to chance is ultimately going to keep Joshua from ever being more than a one-hit wonder with a short shelf life. Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing has helped him stay unbeaten by not matching him against the dangerous opponents during his 5-year pro career. Hearn has chosen not to match Joshua against Deontay Wilder, Luis Ortiz, Alexander Povetkin and David Haye. Hearn’s excuses for not putting Joshua in with those fighters range from they’re not popular enough to they didn’t look good in their recent fights. So instead of Hearn matching Joshua against the real threats, he’s been put in with fighters that soft touches.

“No [I won’t be going to America],” Joshua said last Saturday night. “UK and British boxing is the best. All the time people used to have to go out to America to watch it, they don’t need to anymore. They can come to Cardiff, or Wembley. We will stay here.”

Joshua doesn’t seem willing to work with Deontay Wilder and his management to put a fight together between the two. Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn is the same way. The two of them are making people believe they’re hard to work with, and blocking the fight by being unreasonable and stubborn. It would be refreshing if Joshua and Hearn took the high road and showed that they’re willing to make fights against the best like Wilder rather than sending a message to him and others what you’re not willing to do. Joshua’s comment about not wanting to have to come to the U.S to fight made him look small-minded and unwilling to work with another fighter to put together the fight that the boxing public wants to see. Joshua comes across as a spoiled brat who only wants things his way or else he’ll freeze out his opponent. When you get a fighter that has to have all the advantages, it shows you that he’s not willing to walk the path of legends. Joshua is good at talking about wanting to walk the path, but in reality he’s not willing to do that. He’s someone that veering around the tough opponents. When Joshua does take on a B-level fighter, he makes sure he has the advantages by having the fight staged in the UK in his own environment where he has less chance of losing.

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