On Saturday night, Anthony Joshua will step out at Wembley Stadium in front of a 90,000-strong crowd for undoubtedly the biggest fight of his career to date. In front of him will be one of the greatest fighters of the 21st Century in Wladimir Klitschko.
AJ has been hyped up as one of the most exciting prospects to come through British boxing in recent history. While much of that has come from promoter Eddie Hearn, you don’t need us to tell you that he could be onto something!
Of his 18 previous professional bouts, the Watford-born star is yet to taste defeat. No boxer has ever managed to knock him down, and none of his fights have gone the distance.
So is he a machine, or has he had it easy up to this point? We’ll find out on Saturday night, but for now we’re looking at Joshua’s story in the sport so far, and we start back in 2012, where the then-22-year-old was going for gold.
Joshua turned down a £50k offer to turn professional long before the Olympics, stating that he ‘didn’t take up the sport for money.’ He wanted to win medals.
And he did exactly that after seeing off three tricky opponents on home soil before scraping past Italian Roberto Cammarelle to win gold.
A star was born.
From amateur to pro
Over a year later, after confirming he’d chosen to turn pro, AJ was back in the ring. All eyes were on the youngster, and expectation was high.
He was introduced to The O2 Arena as ‘the future people’s champion’ just seconds before his professional debut versus Emanuele Leo. No reaction from Joshua though – his mind was on one thing: getting the job done.
He did so within one round.
His first title
Eight bouts, six TKOs and two KOs into his professional career, the time had come for AJ to fight for a title – the vacant WBC International heavyweight title, to be more specific.
His opponent was Denis Bakhtov, and like everyone else Joshua had faced at this level, the Russian simply couldn’t handle the speed and strength of AJ’s punches.
The fight was stopped just a minute into the second round, and Joshua’s dominance continued.
The Whyte fight
Undoubtedly Joshua’s toughest challenger to date, Dillian Whyte headed into this bout believing he could put an end to his AJ’s unbeaten run which had stretched to 14. Why did he think that? Because he’d got the better of him six years prior to this fight at amateur level.
This was the first time we sensed genuine hatred between Joshua and an opponent, and it made for an exciting night at The O2.
Joshua was attempting to retain his WBC International and Commonwealth heavyweight belts, while there was also a vacant British heavyweight title up for grabs.
Whyte took Joshua further than he’d ever been before, too – past three rounds. He actually went seven rounds with his former amateur rival before referee Howard Foster stopped proceedings.
That’s probably the closest he’s come to defeat, but Joshua got the better of him.
He’ll have it all to do on Saturday night though against Klitschko, despite heading into the ring as the odds-on favourite.
So will it be another successful chapter in Joshua’s remarkable story so far?
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