Anthony Joshua: Can AJ become an all-time great?
Whilst recently on vacation, British unified IBF, WBA (Super) and IBO Heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua was taking part in an interview on Dubai Eye 103.8, in which he was asked: “You said in a recent interview that you are uncomfortable comparing yourself with Ali and Mike Tyson. If you become the first heavyweight in history to unify all the belts, would you feel that you are in that category?”
Joshua did not hesitate and confidently replied: “100 per cent”.
After Joshua’s 10th round TKO victory over Carlos Takam, giving him a perfect fight record of 20 knockouts from 20 wins, his promoter Eddie Hearn came into the ring and said: “Anthony Joshua wants to be in the real fights. I promise you, I promise the fans, he will give you the fights that you want. I promise you that. Deontay Wilder, Joseph Parker, Tyson Fury, they’re the 2018 fights.”
With talks taking place between Eddie Hearn and David Higgins, Joseph Parker’s promoter, regarding the split for Joshua to fight the WBO champion early next year, and negotiations which recently took place in New York for a fight in 2018 between Joshua and Deontay Wilder, it could just be the year that Joshua becomes undisputed heavyweight champion and his name is cemented in history alongside them all-time greats such as Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson.
Also, with Tyson Fury back in training, a superfight between Joshua and Fury could potentially happen in late 2018, which means that it could definitely be a career defining year for Joshua.
32-year-old Wilder, from Tuscaloosa, Alabama in the US, has been calling Joshua out for a while and seems to be a threat to Joshua regarding the possibility of a meeting between the two in 2018. Wilder boasts a perfect record of 39 wins in 39 fights, with 38 knockouts. There are doubts about the credibility of Wilder’s opponents, however it is no fault of his that he has not been able to fight anyone noteworthy, as both elite fighters who were going to come up against the American, Alexander Povetkin and Luis Ortiz, tested positive for banned substances prior to their fights with Wilder. The Tuscaloosa native is athletic and possesses devastating power in his right hand.
If Joshua gets past the likes of Wilder, Parker, Fury once he is back fit and ready, and David Haye providing he gets past Tony Bellew, and becomes the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world in the process, the 28-year-old would enter the history books as one of the all-time heavyweight greats.
However, this is assuming that Joshua achieves this feat, which there is no rush in doing so because he is still learning and is only 20 fights into his career. This is often forgotten due to the rapid rise of the British heavyweight. In total, Muhammad Ali had 25 world championship fights, Joshua has only had 5. The Brit is truly still a novice.
All of the other aforementioned current heavyweights have had more fights than Joshua and have more experience in the ring as a professional, yet Joshua holds two of the four main belts at heavyweight level and is widely regarded as the best heavyweight in the world.
In April, in front of 90,000 fans at Wembley Stadium, Joshua overcame heavyweight great Wladimir Klitschko in a classic heavyweight battle, one of the greatest ever heavyweight fights, in just his 19th fight. In their 19th fights, Ali and Tyson had not yet even become heavyweight champions, yet Joshua had already achieved this feat in his 16th fight and on this night, added the WBA (Super) and IBO belt to his achievements.
Joshua may not reach the same status as past heavyweight greats such as Ali and Tyson, who have attained true legendary status in the sport. In 1999, the BBC named Ali as the sportsman of the century. In 1986, Tyson became the youngest heavyweight champion in history at 20 years old, demolishing Trevor Berbick inside 2 rounds to attain the WBC belt. However, there is no reason to doubt Joshua’s ability to be able to cement his name alongside them all-time greats in the future.
Fighters like Joshua come around every once in a generation, and with time on his side, a young Joshua will only improve and put his name in the history books, providing that touch wood, all goes well and alongside his trainer, he works on areas which need improving after every fight.
Most people in boxing used to say: “The only thing that can beat Mike Tyson, is Mike Tyson himself.” Perhaps this also applies to Joshua today.
Later in his career, Tyson proved this statement to be accurate. Joshua is older than Tyson was back then in his prime, and seems to be a mature family man, as humble and grounded as ever, and will stay committed to cementing his name alongside his idols in the future.