Anthony Joshua - Boxing: Best performances
Anthony Joshua is set to rematch Oleksandr Usyk for the WBA (super), IBF and WBO heavyweight titles on Saturday, 20th August and there is no better time to look at AJ's best ever professional performances.
Perfect fight against Whyte
In 2015, Joshua stepped into the ring with British rival Dillian Whyte. Up until the clash with the BodySnatcher, Joshua had mainly been mixing it with limited and exposed rivals.
Whyte was different. At this stage of his career the Brixton boxer was raw and wild, but he had talent and a hunger that AJ was yet to face. The Watford puncher had beaten good domestic-level heavyweights Michael Sprott and Matt Skelton, but both of those fighters were past their best and Whyte hadn't yet reached his peak.
There was a ferocious build up to the fight, with both men trading insults prior to stepping into the ring, but the fight itself was less of a ding-dong battle. Joshua measured his man in the early rounds of the fight, before catching Whyte with a right hook and then stopping the Brixton banger with a devastating uppercut in the seventh round.
AJ made the first successful defence of his Commonwealth title in victory and picked up the vacant British heavyweight belt with the knockout win.
First world title
First things first, Charles Martin is the second-shortest reigning heavyweight champion in boxing history and probably one of the worst too. Martin won the IBF crown, when taking on Vyacheslav Glazkov for the vacant title in 2015. Prince Charles stopped Glazkov in the third round, but that was only down to the fact the Ukrainian slipped and suffered a knee injury in the bout.
Joshua's shrewd promoter Eddie Hearn spotted a chance for a crack at a world title and just 85 days later AJ got it on with Martin. Clearly, there are better fighters on the Briton's card, but the manner of the victory was stunning. The Watford man needed just two rounds to dethrone Prince Charles, knocking Martin to the canvas twice and securing the IBF world heavyweight title.
Challenging king Klitschko
In 2017, Joshua defended his IBF world heavyweight title, while challenging Wladimir Klitschko for the vacant WBA belt. The Ukrainian had previously been beaten by Tyson Fury, but Dr Steelhammer was the first elite-level fighter that Joshua had been in the ring with.
There's no doubt that Klitschko was in the twilight of his career, and it would prove to be the Semipalatinsk boxer's last fight, but it was a huge effort to beat one of the greatest heavyweights of all time.
Klitschko was an efficient, fit and strong heavyweight. The Ukrainian didn't always take the breath away and he was a fairly conservative fighter, but Dr Steelhammer boxed behind an excellent jab and he carried plenty of power. Klitschko's professional career lasted over 20 years and it was no mean feat to beat him no matter the stage of his career.
The clash in front of a packed Wembley Stadium in London was full of drama. After a cagey first period of the fight, Joshua stepped on the gas in the fifth round, landing some big shots on Klitschko and forcing the Ukrainian to the canvas. However, Dr Steelhammer returned the favour and floored AJ in the sixth.
Both boxers looked jaded heading into the championship rounds, but Joshua found more in the 11th, landing a huge uppercut on the Ukrainian. The Watford man then hammered home a devastating combination to knockdown Klitschko. Dr Steelhammer showed plenty of courage to get to his feet, but he was once again dropped by the Briton.
Klitschko fought on, but AJ trapped his man on the ropes and with nothing coming back from the Ukrainian the referee called an end to the contest.
Joshua had proved that he could beat a genuine elite-level opponent and also showed that he had the powers of recovery and heart to recover from a knockdown. AJ was already a huge star, but his performance against Klitschko truly dazzled.
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Klitschko was the only fighter to have beaten Alexander Povetkin before the dangerous Russian got a crack at Joshua. Sasha is a crouching and explosive heavyweight and he was on a high after an eight-bout winning streak.
While Joshua had proved he was a top-level fighter, with victory over Klitschko, it was also the first time that the Watford man had shown any vulnerability and that was evident in the early stages against Povetkin at Wembley.
The Russian hurt AJ in the early stages of the fight, but the Briton kept his cool before beginning to find his range. As Sasha began to tire, Joshua found the gaps and forced a seventh-round stoppage. It wasn't an explosive or dominant victory for the Olympic gold medallist, but it was an intelligent performance and the way that Joshua solved the Russian puzzle was impressive.
Business as usual
In 2019, Joshua suffered the first defeat of his career against Andy Ruiz. A year later AJ avenged the defeat to Ruiz, but it was an underwhelming performance against an out-of-shape opponent.
Following the pair of fights against Destroyer, Joshua stepped in with the talented Kubrat Pulev. AJ had questions to answer and the Bulgarian looked capable of posing a tough challenge.
However, Joshua put on a masterclass and dominated Pulev from the opening bell. The British fighter boxed brilliantly at range and floored his opponent in the third round. The Watford ace continued to control the contest, before knocking Pulev to the canvas twice and eventually stopping the Cobra.
Joshua passed the test with flying colours and held onto his WBA (super), IBF and WBO belts. AJ has since lost his titles to the brilliant Usyk, but on the evidence of his career to date, you would not rule out the 32-year-old from reigning again on 20th August.