Is Anthony Joshua the next Rocky Marciano?
“Enjoy the ride and get behind this man”, said Eddie Hearn. He certainly does not need to encourage the boxing brotherhood to ‘get behind’ Anthony Joshua.
His crossover status has been secure for months now and his string of dominant victories appears to have no immediate end in sight.
But, there is a danger that the Londoner’s impressive skill-set will render his future victories ‘defunct.’ I say this because today’s heavyweights as they stand are notoriously unimpressive specimen in comparison to eras of yesteryear.
Rocky Marciano went 49-0, yet he is not held in the same esteem as Ali, Louis, Foreman, Frazier, Johnson, Holyfield or Lewis.
This can only be because of the opposition faced. If Joshua desires greatness, it stipulates he first must beat ‘great’ opposition. Who fits into this bracket is the question?
Thus far AJ has not encountered any issues in the ring at all. The only thing that may stop him from seizing a world title opportunity in 2016 is injury, a foe which has hampered many fighters in the past.
However, there is a growing feeling that it is ‘when’ and indeed not ‘if’ Joshua gets into a world title position. No other rookie in the division can boast of the fan backing, promotional backing or endorsements of Joshua.
This means he is destined to be a draw, maybe ‘the big draw’ going forward. So he can continue knocking guys out and not feel any need to adapt. In essence, Joshua will not be somebody his competitors duck because the exposure and pay-day is guaranteed.
Gennady Golovkin on the other hand for all his mite, fails to match Joshua in endorsements and fan-backing, so guys look at him and conclude the risk is not worth the money offered.
Marciano’s signature victories were all over fallen giants. Combatants who had seen better days, basically. Charles, Louis, Walcott and Moore were sensational in their heydays, particularly Joe Louis of course. Joshua’s future glories look likely to be over ‘never haves.’
Is it more impressive to defeat younger guys who are decent fighters but nothing more, or older men who were once great but no longer are?
I would have to favour the latter as there is something truly iconic about seeing a younger man standing over a former conqueror such as a Louis or a Charles.
The same can be said of Larry Holmes’ career, his defining victory came at Ali’s expense. To join a small fraternity of men in the ‘ I beat Ali club’ is something to behold. Whereas the ‘I beat Tommy Morrison club’ lacks that same prestige.
Joshua is ultimately too late to get a date with Klitschko, if the level of caution was lower, then maybe we could see the super-bout take place in the fall of 2016 but it is not the case.
Imagine a world where ‘caution’ was non-existent. In this utopia we would surely see this fight, people forget AJ is not ‘new’ to boxing. Rather he has been honing his craft for a decade.
So he should be afforded the luxury of chasing down greatness, as opposed to waiting for it.
An inside source told a birdy, who subsequently whistled to me that AJ will be fighting Dillian Whyte next.
Whilst I can envisage a good build-up, for me Whyte hasn’t the grit to last as long as many seem to believe. As long as he’s thoroughly tested prior to the fight, I have no qualms with the fight going ahead.
Having said that, my own personal preference would be for Joshua to collide with a fair opponent rather than a rule-breaker.
2016 will be an intriguing one for Joshua. And it is this writer’s belief he should be fighting for a world title in the final weeks of the year.
This provides ample time for him to absorb some punches from big men. Thompson, Arreola and Price can elevate AJ to new heights, but not to greatness, not just yet anyway.
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