Recapping Anthony Joshua's heavyweight world title fights

By Sports Desk April 09, 2020

Four years ago today, Anthony Joshua claimed a portion of the world heavyweight title for the first time.

Entering the O2 Arena to a hero's reception, Joshua's 16th fight as a professional pitted him against the undefeated but largely untested American Charles Martin.

As was the case throughout his early career, the 2012 Olympic champion got the job done in double-quick time, decking the rangy southpaw twice with crisp right hands in the second round to seal a TKO triumph and the IBF belt.

Since then, however, it has not always been plain sailing.

Here, we look back at AJ's record in world title fights since becoming champion.


Dominic Breazeale

Joshua did not waste much time in booking a first defence of his IBF strap and was back in the ring at the end of June 2016 to face another American.

Breazeale arrived with an unbeaten 17-fight record and was taller than the champion. He had fought at the 2012 Olympics as well, only his bid for gold ended in the preliminary round.

The Californian is nicknamed 'Trouble' but he failed to provide many issues for his opponent on the night. Joshua tenderised him for several rounds before a knockout arrived in the seventh. The beaten fighter earned plaudits for his bravery but was simply outclassed at the O2 Arena.


Eric Molina

Poor Molina was served up as the appetiser before the main event in December 2016. The Texan had pushed Wilder into the ninth round 18 months earlier, but was blown away inside three in Manchester.

Joshua scored a knockdown with a big right hand and while Molina beat the count, referee Steve Gray called a halt to proceedings soon after the resumption. Wladimir Klitschko watched on from close quarters before climbing into the ring to confirm he would face the reigning IBF champion next.

Molina, meanwhile, tested positive for a banned substance after the bout. He was handed a two-year ban in May 2018, though by then he had already had two outings since losing to Joshua.


Wladimir Klitschko

Klitschko was undoubtedly the biggest test of Joshua's career. The cynics suggested the Londoner had benefited from a soft schedule in the pros, but a meeting with the experienced Ukrainian in April 2017 looked anything but easy.

As well as the IBF strap, the vacant IBO and WBA titles were on the line in front of a full house at Wembley Stadium. The meeting of two fighters at contrasting stages of their careers did not disappoint either, serving up a see-saw contest that captivated the audience.

Joshua scored a knockdown in round five but was down himself in the next. However, Klitschko failed to capitalise on a rival apparently running on empty, allowing the home favourite to regroup and force a stunning stoppage in the 11th, with Klitschko downed again before being saved by referee David Fields.


Carlos Takam

Joshua was due to take on Kubrat Pulev in October 2017 in Cardiff, only for the IBF mandatory challenger to pull out through injury. In stepped Takam, a teak-tough replacement with a reputation for making life difficult for his foes.

He certainly left a mark on the Briton, an early clash of heads drawing blood from Joshua's nose, while Takam suffered a nasty cut in a fourth round that also saw him knocked down.

However, the substitute stuck around until he was eventually stopped midway through the 10th. Takam felt he could have carried on, but Joshua extended his record of wins inside the distance to 20 after a less-than-memorable outing.


Joseph Parker

The unification clash between two unbeaten heavyweights in their prime saw Joshua head back to the Welsh capital at the end of March 2018. In the opposite corner was Parker, a New Zealander based in Las Vegas who held the WBO title.

For the first time, Joshua was unable to get the job done inside the distance. His risk-free policy of staying out of range allowed him to put rounds in the bank, leading to a landslide verdict from the judges after a slow-burner that was more intriguing than entertaining.

Parker – returning after surgery on both elbows – was a tough nut to crack but barely threatened an upset. He achieved the honour of becoming the first boxer to take AJ 12 rounds, but left the ring minus his belt. For Joshua, it was a performance that demonstrated he is about far more than just raw power.

Alexander Povetkin

A showdown for the undisputed heavyweight crown against then-WBC king Deontay Wilder continued to prove elusive and, as the American knockout specialist began to make plans for an alternative path with Tyson Fury in situ, Joshua had dangerous Russian veteran Alexander Povetkin next on his agenda.

It was another Wembley extravaganza, although the fire show that greeted the champion to the ring mingled with damp September air and Joshua did not have it all his own way early on – Povetkin steadying the man 11 years his junior and bloodying his nose with a hook at close quarters.

Joshua, who had the final stages of his build-up compromised by a heavy cold, weathered the storm and the finish was spectacular when it arrived in round seven. A left hook, straight right combination sent Povetkin crashing to the floor and he duly crumpled under the follow-up barrage.

Andy Ruiz Jr

Joshua's dream American debut abruptly unravelled into the nightmare of being on the receiving end of one of the biggest upsets in heavyweight history at New York's Madison Square Garden in June last year.

Ruiz was in as a late replacement for motor-mouthed drugs cheat Jarrell Miller and the Mexican's kindly demeanour and rotund physique did an excellent job of obscuring the danger that lay in his deceptively fast hands.

After a slow start, Joshua decked his foe with a left hook off the right uppercut but, as he looked to close the show, a chopping Ruiz right to the temple left him on bandy legs. The champion never regained his equilibrium and was hanging on after going down twice in a topsy-turvy third. Two more trips to the floor in round seven left the Briton looking battered, baffled and beaten.

Andy Ruiz Jr

With little hesitation, Joshua exercised his rematch clause and both men reconvened in the unusual surrounding of Saudi Arabia for a fight dubbed 'The Clash on the Dunes' last December.

Joshua came in lighter and more mobile, while Ruiz… didn't. Boxing, moving and working expertly off a sharp jab, the Briton banked rounds and it quickly became clear the champion's reign would be a brief one.

Margins of 119-109 and 118-110 twice on the judges' scorecards underlined a story of almost total domination.

Related items

  • Orlando Bucks? NBA teams lose out on coveted home court with Disney restart plan Orlando Bucks? NBA teams lose out on coveted home court with Disney restart plan

    A trip to Orlando, Florida is overwhelmingly a more popular travel destination than Milwaukee, Wisconsin for most American families.

    NBA teams share that sentiment.

    The NBA has approved its return-to-play plan, which will send 22 teams to the Walt Disney Resort near Orlando. All the games and practices will take place at the Disney complex after the NBA's Board of Governors approved proposals for a restart from the coronavirus-enforced break.

    The teams invited to Florida are the 16 that held playoff spots when the season was halted on March 11, plus the six teams within six games of eighth place in both the Eastern and Western Conferences.

    While having all the games at one location terminates travel and should cut down on some fatigue, it will provide a new challenge – likely playing games in empty gyms without the noise of the crowd.

    A lack of crowd noise may be the biggest obstacle for the players, challenging their mettle. They will have to take part in crucial games and within these games, face critical possessions without getting any adrenaline rush from either the roar of the fans they would experience at their home arena or the chorus of boos from a hostile crowd when they are on the road.

    For the teams, they are now pretty much all on equal footing. Those that had been dominating for the right to earn home-court advantage for the playoffs no longer have such an advantage.

    When the season went on pause nearly three months ago, the Milwaukee Bucks owned the NBA's best record at 53-12. The Bucks are obviously an excellent team, boasting the league's highest-scoring offense behind reigning league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, but some of their success stems from their ability to easily dispatch of foes when they visited Milwaukee.

    The Bucks have only lost two of their 30 games at Fiserv Forum since the calendar flipped to November. And both of those defeats came at the hands of West clubs – the Dallas Mavericks on December 16 and Denver Nuggets on January 31. They have gone 18-1 in Milwaukee against the East this season with the lone blemish coming in overtime to the Miami Heat in their home opener on October 26.

    By continuing to defend home court against East teams, the Bucks appeared to have a relatively clear path to reach the NBA Finals, but now their opponents will no longer be making that dreaded trip to Milwaukee. 

    Miami, meanwhile, is a hotter destination than Milwaukee – both literally and figuratively – and the Heat climbed to the top of the Southeast Division behind the strength of a 27-5 record in Miami – the third-best home record in the NBA.

    The Heat, however, no longer will have the luxury of welcoming visitors to South Beach and its nightlife, instead playing the rest of their games in the more family-friendly environment provided by Mickey Mouse.

    Only one team has compiled a better home record than the Bucks and Heat this season, and that has been perhaps one of the most perplexing teams of all time.

    The Philadelphia 76ers have gone 29-2 at home, but if the playoffs started today they would not be hosting a first-round series. Thanks to an inability to win on the road where they have gone 10-24, the Sixers are in sixth place in the East. 

    Philly has a .935 winning percentage at home and a .294 winning percentage on the road. That decrease of .641 in winning percentage from home to road is the largest difference since the NBA expanded to 14 teams in 1968-69. 

    Seeing as there has been no rational explanation as to how a team can play so well at home and so poorly on the road, it is anyone's guess how the Sixers will fare in Orlando.

    While teams will be missing out on having games at their own arenas and players will no longer have the creature comforts that come with home games, a handful of teams that are heading to Orlando had slightly better records on the road than at home before the season paused.

    Playing these games on neutral courts, likely without fans, in Orlando does not exactly correlate to playing road games in intense visiting arenas in front of raucous playoff crowds, but the Dallas Mavericks (plus-.077 winning percentage from road to home games), Los Angeles Lakers (plus-.071), New Orleans Pelicans (plus-.063), Phoenix Suns (plus-.062) and Oklahoma City Thunder (plus-.039) all have higher winning percentages on the road than at home.

    Of those five teams, only the Mavericks, Lakers and Thunder posted winning records both on the road and at home. 

    When the season went on pause, the only teams with road winning percentages over .700 were perhaps the three favourites to win the title – the Lakers (.813 road winning percentage), the Bucks (.735) and defending champions the Toronto Raptors (.719). 

    No big surprise, but the ability to win on the road and perform under pressure in adverse conditions bodes well for a team's championship aspirations. 

    While these will not be road games, they will certainly be adverse conditions. Likely the most obscure these players have ever experienced.

  • Shane Warne: How 'The Ball of the Century' sparked his Ashes dominance Shane Warne: How 'The Ball of the Century' sparked his Ashes dominance

    As first impressions go, Shane Warne's in Ashes cricket was about as eye-catching as you could possibly get.  

    It was June 4, 1993 and the second day of the series opener between England and Australia at Old Trafford. Having taken five wickets for 45 runs in the morning session to dismiss their rivals for 289, the home side's reply was progressing steadily enough at 80-1. 

    However, Warne's introduction into the attack produced one of cricket's most memorable moments and changed the dynamic of the rivalry for over the next decade.

    Mike Gatting will certainly never forget it, as the leg-spinner unfurled a delivery that flummoxed the England batsman.

    'The Ball of the Century', as it became known, was poetry in slow (bowling) motion. The initial drift appeared to make it look innocuous enough as it veered to pitch outside the line of the right-handed Gatting's leg stump, only to dip, rip and zip beyond his defensive prod, beating the outside edge of the bat before going on to hit off stump. 

    It was a stunning opening statement. As if he had cast a spell that day, Warne would go on to dominate against England for the rest of his career. 

    Gatting will famously be remembered as the first but plenty more would be mesmerised by Warne, who ended his international career with 708 Test wickets at 25.41. Only Muttiah Muralitharan (800), Sri Lanka's own spin king, has ever managed more. 

    The variations - the wrong'uns, flippers, sliders and shooters, or whatever other name Warne came up with for the latest addition to his bowling repertoire - all helped add to his aura. So many batsmen were often done in the mind before he had even released the ball from his right hand.

    England suffered more than any other nation. Warne claimed 195 wickets against Australia's greatest rivals – the most by any opposing bowler - at an average of 23.3. 

    More than half of that tally came on English soil too (129 at 21.9 in 22 matches), with his numbers against them in Australia impacted by missing the majority of the 1998-99 series due to a right shoulder injury, as well as a further two Tests in 2002-03. In terms of wickets abroad, South Africa sit second on his hit list, Warne picking up 61 there in 12 Tests. 

    The young, bright-blond bowler in 1993 went on to finish with 34 scalps during the six-match Ashes, though a strike-rate of a wicket every 77.6 balls was comfortably the highest for any of his four series on English soil.

    He picked up four in each innings in Manchester – albeit none with such dramatic effect as the delivery that did for Gatting – then repeated the trick at Lord's in the next Test. While the returns dipped for the remainder of the trip, including just one wicket at Headingley, Australia eased to a 4-1 triumph to retain the urn. 

    From that away success towards the end of Allan Border's reign through the captaincy eras of Mark Taylor, Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting, the Australians would maintain their grip on the most famous prize in cricket until 2005, when Michael Vaughan's side worked out that attack was the best form of defence. 

    The competitive nature of that series – after a lop-sided opener at Lord’s that the tourists won, every other fixture provided sporting drama of the highest quality – seemingly inspired Warne to reach a personal Ashes peak.  

    No cause was lost when he had the ball that summer, as demonstrated when so nearly rescuing situations in eventual defeats at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge, when his side's batting failures left them playing catch-up. In the end, though, his 40 wickets at 19.9 were not enough to spare Australia from slipping to a 2-1 defeat.  

    Still, he became just the eighth bowler to take 40 wickets in a series – and the first since 1989 – while striking on average every 37.9 balls. England had managed to win the war despite coming out second best in their battles with Warne. 

    His hugely successful English summer helped towards an overall haul of 96 wickets in 2005, comfortably the best return during a Test career that saw him take 70 or more in a calendar year on four occasions.

    The last act was to help regain the urn at home in 2006-07, Andrew Flintoff becoming Warne's 195th Ashes scalp when stumped by Adam Gilchrist in Sydney.  The bowler who made the fading art of leg spin fashionable once again had bamboozled England for the final time.

  • Dillian Whyte labels Tyson Fury 'The Gypsy Coward' after Bob Arum comments Dillian Whyte labels Tyson Fury 'The Gypsy Coward' after Bob Arum comments

    Dillian Whyte has hit out at Tyson Fury, branding the WBC heavyweight champion "The Gypsy Coward", after Bob Arum called for his mandatory title defence to be cancelled.

    Arum, the Fury's US promoter, says the mandatory defence his fighter is due to make against Whyte by February 2021 should be "eliminated" or alternatively postponed for one year. 

    He asked the WBC to make changes because the coronavirus pandemic has left boxers unable to compete for three months, with upcoming fights needing to take place behind closed doors.

    Arum claimed a bout between Whyte and Fury in the US would generate little interest, representing a "meaningless" fight, adding he was "sick and tired" of having to put his marquee clients in matches that "mean nothing".

    But WBC interim champion Whyte was having none of it, claiming this is the latest excuse from the Fury camp to avoid giving him a title shot he feels he has earned.

    "Arum's talking rubbish," Whyte said to Sky Sports. "If he represented me, he'd be screaming that this is the biggest travesty in the history of boxing.

    "Nearly 1,000 days as number one without being given a shot, whereas Tyson Fury barely scraped by the WBC number 31 ranked Otto Wallin in front of only 3,500 people.

    "Then [he was] gifted my mandatory position without fighting an eliminator, never mind a final eliminator."

    Fury is currently preparing for a third bout against former world champion Deontay Wilder.

    Whyte added: "Fury won the belt off that pathetic hype job Deontay Wilder as his legs were too weak to carry it any longer after running away from me for years.

    "It now looks like the two of them are in a relay. The WBC had originally agreed that the winner of Wilder-Fury II had to fight me by May 2020.

    "Now Wilder's injured and Arum's trying to delay my shot further. It's all wrong and has nothing to do with COVID-19.

    "If he was fit to fight, they could fight in July. Who cares if they don't have an audience? Big deal. Both of them have fought most of their careers with hardly any audience.

    "The WBC should order Fury to fight me next but I don't think 'The Gypsy Coward' will. The whole thing's a joke and I'm not putting up with it anymore."

    Whyte is scheduled to face Russian Alexander Povetkin in 2020, while there have also been talks over a contest against UFC star Francis Ngannou.

    The Briton feels he has little left to prove, adding: "I have been ranked number one since 2017 and have fought more top-15 contenders than Wilder and Fury combined. 

    "I am the Ring Magazine number two ranked heavyweight in the world, higher than Wilder.

    "No one is mentioning me as they are scared of fighting me. One hundred per cent I beat Fury. He knows it and that's why he doesn't want to face me. We have history. He has run in the past and he's running scared now."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.