By Tim Royner: Max Kellerman doesn’t believe that IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua will be able to withstand the punching power of WBC champion Deontay Wilder if he chooses to fight in the same safety first manner that he used to defeat Andy Ruiz Jr. last week in Saudi Arabia.
It’s still too early to know if Joshua and Wilder will be meeting up as champions. Joshua has two mandatory defenses he needs to deal with against Kubrat Pulev and Oleksander Usyk next year. It’s almost academic that Joshua will vacate his WBO title, and focus on just defending against Pulev.
Wilder has 2 fights he needs to take care of against Tyson Fury in 2020, and after that, he has a mandatory due against Dillian Whyte in 2021.
Kellerman says that Joshua (23-1, 21 KOs) be able to elude Wilder’s big right hand for 12 rounds without eventually getting clipped by him. That’s why he believes that the best shot that Joshua, 30, has in beating Wilder (42-0-1, 41 KOs) is to fight him aggressively in the same way that former WBC 175-lb champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk fought IBF champion Artur Beterbiev in the early rounds of their recent fight on October 18.
When Gvozdyk was fighting aggressively and coming forward, he did well. It was only after Gvozdyk started fighting passively that Beterbiev gook over the fight and wore him down with powers shots.
Kellerman: Joshua can’t beat Wilder as a safety first fighter
“The real thing out of that fight [Joshua vs. Ruiz 2] is, does anyone really think that Joshua survives 12 rounds against Deontay’s power speed,” said Kellerman to IFL TV. “Even if he’s boxing well, you have to imagine at some point that Deontay is going to reach him, and then what happens.
“I don’t think it’s enough for Joshua to be a safety first fighter,” said Kellerman. “You can box responsibly, and be a little more aggressive and impose yourself more. Sometimes the boxer/puncher, because he can box, chooses to do too much. I think Joshua can box responsibility and carefully, and more aggressively than he did against Ruiz. That may be his best shot against Wilder,” said Kellerman.
Well, if Wilder clips Joshua with one of his right hands thrown with full power, it’s unlikely he’ll be able to take that without going down hard. Joshua showed heart in getting up off the deck repeatedly in his first fight with Ruiz and against Klitschko, but he’ll be in trouble against Wilder. There’s now way that Wilder would back off, and take his time against Joshua if he knocks him down.
Joshua’s offense is his best defense against Wilder
“Instead of just trying to avoid the right hand all night, you think eventually that right hand is going to land,” said Kellerman in talking about Wilder’s right hand eventually getting to Joshua’s chin. “You’d better be doing some damage yourself. Wilder-Fury is #1, and the lineal champ, and Joshua is the #1 contender.
“The thing about AJ is he was never going to be the guy that never lost, and beat everybody forever,” said Kellerman. “He was always going to be a dramatic fighter, because he has a champion’s heart, he can punch, and he’ll make the fights.
“When you’re the money man in the division, and you’ll make the fights, you’re in a great era. So I’m not worried about that, and he’ll also get up off the deck. But he’s vulnerable. Guys have chances against AJ. It’s one of the reasons he’s an interesting fighter,” said Kellerman.
There’s little chance that Joshua will beat Wilder if he fights with the Wladimir Klitschko style that he used against Ruiz. Joshua barely threw any power punches in the fight, and he won basically on movement, jabbing and tying Ruiz up.
Joshua looked so wrecked mentally in his rematch with Ruiz, and it’s hard to imagine him wanting to mix it with Wilder.
Wilder has the height and reach to get to Joshua’s chin at some point, and the movement won’t help AJ. By the time Wilder faces Joshua, he’ll have had 2 more fights with Fury. The movement that Fury will be using in those two fights will get Wilder fully prepared for whatever Joshua has planned.
Oleksandr Usyk needs to prove he can carry the weight
“We got to see how [Oleksandr] Usyk looks against [Dereck] Chisora or someone,” said Kellerman. “Let’s see how he looks at heavyweight. I suspect, Usyk is going to be a good heavyweight. But I don’t know until he [fights someone good]. Chazz Witherspoon doesn’t count. This isn’t eight years ago. This is now. So I got to see what he looks like, but they’re not going to make that fight [Joshua vs. Usyk] right now.
“I think if Usyk shows up against Chisora, and he’s more or less the same guy he was at cruiserweight,” said Kellerman. “Now think about the heavyweight division. Wilder, Fury, Ruiz just based on the first AJ [fight]. By the way, Ruiz went tooth and nail with Joseph Parker down under, and barely lost that fight. For a fat guy, he’s in boxing shape. And now you add Usyk, that’s a lot of top heavyweights.
“Dillian Whyte is a good fighter. That doesn’t mean he can’t beat some of those guys,” said Kellerman. “I think at the top of the division, I think of those guys. Fury is the lineal champ. He and Wilder have to sort that out. AJ is the guy that knocked Klitschko out, and became the consensus champion before Ruiz. And Ruiz showed his quality, and Usyk was a great cruiserweight, but now we got to see if he can carry that weight.
“To me, that’s the top of the division. Ruiz is a natural fighter. He’ll be able to fight. The question is, can he stay disciplined enough to give us the best version,” said Kellerman.
There’s a chance that Usyk will get a title shot against Joshua without having proven himself at heavyweight first. The World Boxing Organization has already ordered Joshua to start negotiations for a fight against Usyk.