You can’t read any discussion about Anthony Joshua for long without seeing reference to his resume. The resume is usually brought up as the first line of defence to any criticism slung his way, and is perhaps the only line of attack that is still being used by AJ fans as to why their man still deserves more credit and praise than Tyson Fury.
The resume line is used by no one more than Eddie Hearn, who mentions it before every fight, after every fight, win or lose. The names by now reel off his tongue, and near everyone from what I have seen is in complete agreement that AJ has put together one hell of a record.
This has always somewhat baffled me, and I will explore why here. First of all, since April 2016, every fight he’s been in has been a World title fight. His last 8 fights have been for 3 organisation’s belts. When you are the champion of those 3 organisations, you will have to fight decent fighters, to justify holding onto so many belts.
Also, these organisations want you to face their mandatory challenger now and then, the chances are someone ranked #1 will be a pretty good fighter. Does a unified World Heavyweight champion really deserve so much credit for fighting fairly solid opponents?
Comparison is often made to Wilder’s defences for example, and for sure it does seem that Wilder is a bit of a flat-track bully, who didn’t seem to particularly mind some easy knockouts over less than stellar opposition. Though it still remains hard to fairly compare his level of opponents to Joshua’s.
Joshua gets bigger crowds than anyone in world boxing, he’s for years now sold out big stadiums in a matter of hours, he’s simply one of the biggest stars in boxing with huge PPV numbers. This to say, they can afford to pay opponents big money. The big money that is required for a credible opponent.
I don’t think that has always been the case for Wilder, who himself was not getting anything like big money until having been World Champion for a while, let alone his opponent.
This is not to completely excuse Wilder, the fact an agreement was never reached to fight Dillian Whyte in all the time he was mandatory challenger.. its quite bizarre to me why Wilder seemingly did not ever fancy that fight. And I do think that unlike Wilder, AJ has and always will be willing to face anyone, be it Wilder, Fury, I don’t think him a coward or someone who would doubt himself enough to not fancy them fights.
The reason for the AJ-Wilder fight never materialising whilst both were champion, I don’t believe was down to AJ himself, though I think it possible his team and promoter wanted to keep him away from Wilder for a little longer, to further build up his experience. But for Wilder’s part, I never got the impression he was particularly falling over himself to get the fight either.
I digress, but the point is that though I believe AJ has been more up for a challenge and a real fight than Wilder has, it’s not quite as simple as just looking at who their opponents have been for defences and not including the context.
The most common comparison presumably in the whole of boxing is AJ’s resume against Tyson Fury’s. As stated earlier, this is often something used by AJ fans, and Fury’s resume is the one main critique levelled against him by virtually everyone who wishes to put him down.
Again, it often seems a little without context. A man who has defended or attempted to defend his world title 9 times is always likely to have fought more decent fighters than someone who has never defended before, that seems obvious.
Fury is mocked for never having attempted a World title defence, (aside from the fact it’s not really his fault from a boxing standpoint that he was unable to defend his belt for 2 years due to being side-lined from the ring for medical issues, nor was it his fault he was robbed by judges in Los Angeles in his first fight with Wilder, therefore delaying his ability to make the first defence) and yet also mocked for a supposedly weak resume, when the two things kind of go together as one rather explains the other. Your resume is unlikely to be great without a world title defence.
Looking at Fury’s resume, his best opponent prior to fighting for the World title was Chisora. Now the fact is, this was already not a great time for Heavyweight boxing, swathes of very average Heavyweights were getting the chance to lose to the Klitschko’s, so it shouldn’t be too surprising Fury didn’t have to fight off many stern challenges to become the top contender.
One challenge could have been former Cruiserweight and Heavyweight World Champion David Haye, again not really Fury’s fault Haye pulled out of the fight twice. One man he did face though was Chisora, who in their first fight was 14-0 and 27 years old. The 22-year old Fury went into the fight as the underdog. They fought again 3 years later, in between these bouts Chisora became one of only 4 men to lose to Vitali Klitschko without being stopped.
Chisora is regarded as a journeyman for the 11 losses on his record, but the fact is nobody has ever had an easy night with him, barring Fury in their rematch. Chisora arguably won a very close first fight with Whyte and was having another very close fight with him in the rematch before Whyte found a great knockout in the 11th, Usyk did not shine against him in the same way he did against Bellew and Joshua, and he was very unlucky to not win a decision against former World Champion Joseph Parker.
Not bad for a journeyman. But Fury certainly made him look like a journeyman in their second fight, showing exactly how a big man should fight against a little man, he didn’t let Chisora lay a glove on him and beat him up all night until Chisora’s trainer finally took mercy on him and pulled him out after 10 brutally one-sided rounds.Embed from Getty Images
The next ‘name’ on Tyson’s resume is Wladimir Klitschko, who was on a run of 19 successful wins in World title fights, and hadn’t lost for 11 years. On the Champions adopted home patch of Germany, Fury won a unanimous decision in front of 50,000 Klitschko supporters, to give the Ukrainian his only defeat by decision in 69 fights. Not a bad win I suppose.
Often used to mock Fury’s resume is the name ‘Sefer Seferi’ and yes the fight was a joke and a bit of a waste of time, but it was Fury’s first fight for 2 and a half years, yes he could have fought someone a bit better ofcourse, but I don’t think it would have been wise to fight anyone fans would consider a decent fighter on his very first step on the comeback trail.
Two months later was Pianeta, again I don’t think it’s that surprising that when you’re fighting for the second time in 3 months after a long absence, and your plan is to fight for the World title less than 4 months later, that the level of opponent you’re facing is not that high, that seems to be fairly logical. I think facing Deontay Wilder for the WBC title just 6 months into the comeback made up for it in fairness.
Going into their first fight, Wilder had faced 40 men and knocked them all out. It’s fashionable now after the beating Fury gave him in the rematch to dismiss Wilder as a bum, a never-was. But it’s simply not true. He’s 6 foot 7, incredibly heavy-handed with one of the most concussive punches in Heavyweight history.
Fury fought him in his prime after the best win of Wilder’s career, an 8 round stoppage of Luis Ortiz, who at the time was for sure a worthy contender. Fury himself was 6 months back after a 2 and a half year absence, mostly spent trying to damage his body to the same extent his mind was damaged.
After outboxing him for 9 rounds, Fury picked himself off the canvas to box his head off some more, until in the 12th round Wilder landed one of the hardest and best 2-punch combos he’s ever thrown. One of the only true knockout punches ever landed to somehow not result in a knockout. Fury won the fight but as we know was robbed and given a draw.
Between this fight and the rematch, Fury is again mocked for the two names he fought in-between. Tom Schwarz and Otto Wallin. First of all it was kinda strange why these 2 fights were even necessary and they didn’t just do an immediate rematch or even 1 fight in between, 2 seemed excessive.
But financially it worked out great for both men, Wilder who was able to cash in for 2 more fights as Champion, and for Fury he could get into a run of real activity which helped him immensely for the rematch with Wilder. Schwarz was rolled over as expected, but Wallin inflicted 2 huge cuts on Tyson which left him fighting nearly the whole fight with only 1 eye, still winning nearly every round. Which is surely quite impressive, given Wallin is now deemed by Hearn a highly credible opponent for Whyte, one of the division’s top fighters.Embed from Getty Images
In the Wilder rematch, Fury produced what was I think the best performance by a Heavyweight this century. He did what no one thought he could do, which was bully the bully, beating him with power not just cunning. As I said, now Fury has done it so easily, people will talk about how Wilder was rubbish all along, never beat anyone etc. but if anyone thinks AJ or Whyte or anyone else would just as easily stand up to Wilder’s power, speed and explosiveness,
I think they are very mistaken. Whether Wilder will be the same fighter with his air of invincibility shattered after defeat remains to be seen, but it would be great to see him in the ring against Britain’s other top fighters. My prediction is, it would see Fury’s win and performance elevated even further.
Fury now faces Wilder for a third time, and whilst I like most consider it a shame Fury wasn’t able to move onto new challenges, if he wins, it’s another excellent win. I don’t consider it any easier than a fight against AJ would be. It’s true that AJ is a better boxer than Wilder, but still vastly inferior to Tyson, so I don’t see how he provides much greater threat from a boxing standpoint, he’s not going to outbox Fury in a million years.
So the only threat to Tyson posed is power, Wilder has a higher KO % than AJ despite fighting nearly 20 more times, lets his hands go more, hits harder, is more dangerous with a single shot than AJ, so, therefore, I feel the most dangerous fighter to Fury, as he himself has said many times, remains *to this day* Deontay Wilder.Embed from Getty Images
Now to really the point of the article, Joshua’s resume. After amassing 14 knockouts in 14 fights, all coming in the 3rd round or sooner, the Olympic Gold Medallist had become Britain’s most talked about and hyped prospect ever. His 15th opponent was Dillian Whyte, a 16-0 fighter with 13KO’s.
Whyte has since gone on to garner a deserved reputation as one of the division’s toughest and respectable fighters, but that’s now. Going into when AJ actually fought him, he had faced absolutely nobody. He had 6 amateur bouts including a win over AJ, moved to kickboxing, came back to boxing and had 9 pro fights before being banned for drugs. Whyte was out of the ring for 2 years, had 5 fights back then fought Joshua.
So at the time of the fight there is no doubt that whilst AJ was seen as a future World Champion, Whyte was not seen as anything of the sort, just an ‘opponent’ there for AJ to get another fast and emphatic knockout.
The emphatic knockout came but not before experiencing adversity for the first time, as in fight number 15 of his career AJ faced someone who could take his leather and land some of his own, before succumbing in the 7th. Despite the rawness of Whyte, he still had enough heart and talent to provide Anthony with his first career test.Embed from Getty Images
Next fight, AJ fought for the World title, facing what most regard as a terrible World Champion, Charles Martin. He may have walked this earth like a God, but he fought in the ring like a Big Bum Dosser, against AJ anyway, who took him apart in 2 rounds.
Martin appeared for all the world like a man woefully out of his depth, dutifully accepting his beating for a good payday. A win over Gerald Washington has since seen an attempt at the rehabilitation of Martin’s image from Eddie Hearn no less, who now lists the conquest of this man as proof of AJ’s greatness, who next Gary Cornish?
AJ made his first World title defence of his IBF crown against Dominic Breazeale, who was at the time ranked #13 with the organisation. Joshua won in the 7th round. His second defence was against Eric Molina, who AJ dispatched in 3 rounds.
Another 2 men recently listed by Hearn to demonstrate AJ’s strong resume. In the same interview, he criticised Wilder for having to beat no one..except he’s also knocked out both Breazeale (in 43 seconds) & Molina. A decision win over Breazeale was also enough to show Hearn that Wallin was a worthy PPV opponent for Whyte, so are they good wins or not? I’m not sure, I guess it depends on who we’re talking about, AJ or Wilder.
Next up saw AJ transition into a UK stadium fighter when he met Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley to attempt to add more belts to his collection that had recently been vacated by Fury. Having been soundly beaten by The Gypsy King, Klitschko had gone from 39 to 41. The feeling for a lot in the UK at the time was, it’s a good time to beat a good name to earn some credibility against an old, past it champion.
That looked to be the case when AJ dropped Wlad in the 5th but there was still some life in the old dog yet when the very next round AJ hit the canvas for the first time in his career. Wlad took control of the fight with AJ struggling for a second wind having used up a lot of energy, with stamina issues affecting the 250-pounder. There was a few rounds where AJ was too tired, not throwing, concentrating everything on trying to recuperate, that you’d think Klitschko could have stepped it up and gone for the finish.
Whether age stopped Klitschko from pushing on the gas or he felt confident he could see out a decision, he didn’t do it and AJ found the best punch and single moment of his career in the 11th with a huge uppercut which signalled the end of Wlad’s chances. It was a great fight which AJ did very well to win, but it had been by the skin of his teeth.Embed from Getty Images
After Pulev pulled out of their proposed fight, Carlos Takam stepped in as a late replacement. Given the lack of time, this wasn’t a terrible replacement, he is tough and comes to fight, ensuring the fans will at least get to see a few rounds.
But he has lost to every name fighter he’s faced, including Journeyman Chisora. So Chisora isn’t a good name on Fury’s record, because he loses to every good fighter he faces, but Takam is a solid name on AJ’s record, despite the fact he was knocked out by Chisora. It’s all very confusing.
To hold 4 belts, AJ then faced Joseph Parker, the holder of the WBO title, winning the vacant belt with a home decision against some chubby kid, Andy Ruiz. At the time, Parker had a very good reputation, but the fight was a stinker, with AJ disappointing his legion of fans as he was taken the distance for the first time.
Parker has since lost to Whyte and in my opinion deserved a draw at best with Chisora having been dropped in the first round, and now will have to fight a rematch for a more emphatic win. Since the AJ fight, he’s looked a fairly average heavyweight, seemingly quite lucky to have ever held the World title, having not done anything since to make anyone believe he could ever hold it again.
The next defence came against the small and light for a heavyweight 39-year old Alex Povetkin. Looking at him, not much of a threat would perhaps be expected to a man of AJ’s size and stature but for 6 rounds he gave Joshua a very competitive fight until the fight was ended by the Champion’s power in the 7th.
Povetkin had gone the distance with Wladimir Klitschko despite being dropped four times, and probably deserved a second shot at the world title sooner than 5 years after that. The 39-year old was still a credible challenger but with his best years behind him.
Then on June 1 2019, came the infamous AJ US debut. After a fight with Big Baby Miller collapsed due to his drug use, in stepped Andy Ruiz, who had a similarly large belly but 4 inches less in height than Miller. It was obvious what would happen next, AJ would announce himself to US audiences with a quick knockout.
Ruiz hit the canvas for the first time in his career in round 3. AJ, one of the best finishers in the sport, jumped on him. What happens next usually, is roared on by tens of thousands of Brits, AJ punches and punches until his opponent goes down and stays there. This time in front of an audience of stunned Americans, Ruiz came off the floor to land a shot to AJ’s temple which changes the course of the fight and both men’s destinies.
Ruiz puts AJ down and the champion never recovers, unable to regain authority or control in the fight, he is victim to Ruiz’s barrages and decides not to fight on in the 7th, recognising after being dropped yet again, that it’s not going to be his night.Embed from Getty Images
After losing the Brawl In Montreal, Sugar Ray Leonard knew he had to get his conqueror Roberto Duran back in the ring as quickly as possible, whilst he was out partying, piling on the pounds and not training. AJ applied the same thinking, and like Leonard in the ‘No Mas’ fight took on a completely new approach for the rematch.
Andy Ruiz has very fast hands, its not wise to trade with him up close. He does not, however, have fast feet or particularly long arms. AJ maintained his discipline in the rematch to comfortably outbox Ruiz for 12 rounds, boxing from distance, never tempted to go for the knockout. Ruiz weighed in at an enormous 284 pounds, 16 pounds heavier than before.
Performance and result wise, the Ruiz rematch in Saudi Arabia is perhaps the most impressive of AJ’s career to date. The 32-year old Ruiz still has to prove however, if he is truly a top-class fighter, or whether he just produced the performance of a lifetime and got AJ on the right night.
If AJ had beaten Ruiz first time round it would not have been seen as a particularly significant triumph, but due to the credibility he only gained as a result of beating AJ, this conversely amplified the achievement of Joshua gaining revenge in the rematch.
Joshua’s first defence of his second reign came against Kubrat Pulev after just over a year out the ring. Like Povetkin, Pulev was approaching 40, had fought for the world title whilst a younger man and lost to Wlad Klitschko (Pulev being stopped in 5), he was also quite a short and light man in comparison to the giant figure of Joshua.
With only 14KO wins in 29 fights, Pulev looked like the ideal opponent for AJ. He was durable and well-conditioned and came to win but he stood right in front of AJ, with no head movement, so the Champion moved his head for him with brutal uppercuts.
If you stand in front of Joshua and don’t have much of a punch or speed to threaten him with, he looks brilliant and he did at times on this night, despite even against this opponent being reluctant to fully commit to power combo’s, the memory of Ruiz at MSG clearly not yet banished, but the win came in the 9th round, AJ’s first stoppage win for over 2 years.
AJ’s second reign as champion was a lot shorter than his first, defeat coming in his second defence against former Cruiserweight king Oleksandr Usyk. Usyk had come under vast criticism it shouldn’t be forgotten for his first 2 performances at Heavyweight. Many people, though I personally don’t agree, thought that his fight with Chisora was very close, he certainly wasn’t sending fear into the hearts of the division.
But Usyk has only failed to win 15 fights out of over 360 amateur and pro for a reason, and he thoroughly outclassed Joshua. The fight would have been hard enough, and not a guaranteed win even if Joshua hadn’t got his tactics so completely wrong, but he at least would have been in with a chance. Usyk, thought to be too small for a heavyweight, didn’t look small in with one of the divisions giants, because he didn’t fight like a small man, he didn’t allow Joshua to feel physically superior, and showed no fear or respect for his power.Embed from Getty Images
I won’t be surprised at all if Joshua rights his wrongs in the second fight, by doing what he obviously should have done in the first fight. Being rough and nasty, throwing as the saying goes, with bad intentions. But why it takes a 2-time World Champion with his experience a second fight to realise this I have no idea.
Having a “chess match” fight with Usyk is maybe something you do in sparring to learn some useful things, you don’t do it in front of 70 thousand with your belts actually on the line..It was one of the most incredibly naive things I have seen from an experienced champion. It struck of a man in a bit of an identity crisis, who can’t decide what type of fighter he is inside the ring, nor what his boxing persona is outside it, in the lead-up to fights.
As another mistake AJ seemed to repeat from the first Ruiz fight was he seemed all pally with Usyk and too relaxed in the build-up. It could just be a coincidence but he was nice and p*ssed off with Pulev before getting in the ring with him, and he produced the right performance. I know Usyk is a difficult guy to dislike, but he’s gonna have to try.
Strangely, Hearn also listed Usyk on AJ’s resume. I don’t see much good of having good names on your resume if you lose to them, otherwise we may as well declare Kevin Johnson a great, as he’s fought everyone (and lost to everyone, but I guess that doesn’t matter). If AJ wins the rematch, he deserves credit for it, as it would for me be the best win of his career, given the age of Klitschko and Joshua’s personal circumstances of 2 defeats in his last 4. But I don’t really get this thing of “give AJ credit for taking the fight”.
Its the mandatory challenger for one of his belts, he has to fight him, or else give up that belt. Why would you become world champion just to give a belt up because you have to face someone good? talk about giving credit for the bare minimum.
This questioning of AJ’s resume, is not to criticise him personally. I have no doubt that before he retires he would, if up to him face Wilder, Fury and whoever else who is up there at the time, and if he does so he will lose plenty more times, because his chin and tactics are not of the standard of some of the other guys, but he will lose and come back and keep trying, and I respect that.
But in conclusion I think up to this point, with no Fury or Wilder under his W column, he is getting a lot of credit for wins against guys who when listed as a collective are fairly solid names, but when taken individually, are not so great. Whilst Fury’s list has less solid names, there are names who can be taken individually and are great standalone wins.
The way I would describe it is would you rather take a couple of 10′s to bed, but not many 6,7 or 8′s? or would you rather take a few 6,7 or 8′s but never a 10. I know which I would prefer.