Anthony Joshua: A win’s a win!
By Gav Duthie: Like Anthony Joshua said post-fight, in 15 years nobody is going to remember this. There has been a lot of negativity surrounding Joshua’s performance against Jermaine Franklin on Saturday night from both the mainstream and social media. Many think that after a loss you need to make a statement, in heavyweight boxing that means a spectacular knockout. The media weren’t really questioning Joshua’s skill but rather his lack of aggression, nervous energy and unwillingness to go for the kill. In this writers opinion statements are for banks, Joshua’s only obligation was to win the fight which he did, at least 10 rounds. Dillian Whyte didn’t get this kind of heat in a fight he almost lost against the same opponent but he isn’t AJ. Its what happens next that’s important. Boxing history is filled with nervous comeback performances even including some of the greats but the win can be a platform to something bigger. Here are a few examples of exactly this happening, can AJ do the same?
March 1971 v Joe Frazier Lost 15 round UD
July 1971 v Jimmy Ellis WTKO 12
Ali spent 3 years out of the sport for his decision not to join the war on Vietnam. Upon his return he fought twice before going up against ‘Smokin’ Joe Frazier. Ali was not ready for the kind of smoke that Joe was coming with. Joe won at least 10 of the rounds and knocked Ali down the final round. Ali was quite fit enough at this point or aggressive enough to keep Joe off of him.
For his comeback he took on stablemate and sparring partner Jimmy Ellis only a few months later. Ellis had been a world champion during the 3 years that Ali was out of the ring but Frazier had destroyed him to take his belt. Ellis had 6 losses on his ledger before his fight against Ali, most of them at middleweight. He was simply seen as a smaller, similar but less talented version of Muhammad, trained by Angelo Dundee this should be easy work. The fight was very even for 3 rounds. Ali hurt Ellis and somewhat took control but Ellis was competitive and took a few rounds on the card.
The fight was stopped in the 12th with Ellis taking punishment but it wasn’t a marquee comeback. People were not convinced Ali was the same but look what he did after. He even lost a fight to Ken Norton 10 fights later but still became one of the greatest fighters of all time.
November 1995 v Riddock Bowe LTKO8
May 1996 v Bobby Czyz WRTD5
Evander Holyfield was basically considered done after his comeback win over Bobby Czyz. There were allegations of cheating as Czyz said that he couldn’t see as there was a substance in his eyes he claimed came for Holyfield’s gloves. This was Holyfield’s second comeback in recent times. He had suffered a UD defeat to Michael Moorer in 1994 and had allegedly suffered a heart attack during the bout. He barely beat Ray Mercer in the fight after then suffered his first knockout defeat to Riddock Bowe looking absolutely exhausted when he fell face-first into the ropes in round 8. Was Holyfield a spent force? His performance against Czyz suggested he was. Holyfield was winning the rounds but was fairly uninspiring. With the previous losses, it seemed he didn’t have it anymore.
What did he do in his next fight? Stopped Iron Mike Tyson. When the bout was made there was excitement but it looked 5 years too late. Holyfield rolled back the years. He had no fear of Mike, stood his ground and used his counterpunching skills to control the fight. Holyfield hadn’t looked that good in years but he turned it on when he needed to.
April 2004 v Lamon Brewster LTKO 5
October 2004 v DaVarryl Williamson WTD 5
After losing his title to Corrie Sanders Wlad decided to join up with legendary trainer Emmanuel Steward. Their first fight was a vacant title fight to win the same WBO belt back against Lamon Brewster. It was seen as an easy way to get his title back and it looked that way for the first 4 rounds as he controlled the fight with his jab. He had outlanded Brewster 120 to 43 but he got hit in the fifth and never recovered. His legs completely gave way. Upon further examination it was found his blood sugar level was twice the norm and he suffered exhaustion.
His comeback fight wasn’t much better. He faced Friday night fights level contender DaVarryl Williamson. It was a huge opportunity for Williamson and he almost took it. He dropped Wladimir in the 4th round with a right hand. In the 5th an accidental headbutt left Wladimir bloodied and drooped in his stool. It was deemed he couldn’t continue because of the blood. Many felt he was ready to quit but the fight went to the scorecards and Klitschko picked up a split decision.
The fans and media were convinced Wladimir had little left. Even Emmanuel Steward couldn’t help him. He just didn’t have the same determination of his older brother.
How wrong were we all. That fight was 2004 he didn’t lose again until 2015. In that time he beat Brewster in a rematch. He also won his WBO title back as well as the IBO title, the IBF title and the WBA title. He defeated David Haye, Ruslan Chagaev and Alexander Povetkin and made 18 successful title defences before eventually losing to Tyson Fury.
Maybe Anthony Joshua is just different now. Do I think he beats Fury, probably not but his performance against Franklin shouldn’t be an indicator on his ability to do so. As history has shown us many top fighters are nervous after a loss but their confidence can come back or they can step up for the big occasion.
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