Anthony Joshua: Down, but Not Out? Heavyweight King Seeks Redemption

By Michael Collins - 01/21/2024 - Comments

The former two-time heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua has been brought down to earth in the last five years and is no longer viewed as the #1 fighter or the #2 in the division.

Fallen from Grace? Not Quite

Joshua insists he’s still at the top of the division, which is true, but he has a lot of company. He’s not the guy anymore, but he hopes to grab the top spot in 2024 by winning his March 8th fight against Francis Ngannou and then the winner of the Tyson Fury vs. Oleksandr Usyk fight.

AJ’s promoter believes he’s #3 in the division, but you could make a strong argument that he’s closer to #5 or 6 behind these heavyweights:

1. Oleksandr Usyk
2. Tyson Fury
3. Zhilei Zhang
4. Jared Anderson
5. Joseph Parker
6. Anthony Joshua

Popularity-wise, Joshua is above those fighters, but in terms of actual ability, he trails them all and perhaps two or three other heavyweights in the division.

Reclaiming the Crown? A Long and Winding Road

AJ has found out the hard way that it’s difficult to stay at the top, and he’s not as good as he thought he was. Joshua lost to Andy Ruiz Jr. in 2019, and twice to Oleksandr Usyk in 2021 and 2022.

With three defeats since 2019, and likely many more if his promoter didn’t back him off from fighting top-tier opposition, he’s ready to face another tune-up level opponent, Ngannou with a lot to gain.

“I’ve never left! I’ll always be [there],” said Joshua to Sky Sports Boxing about him believing he’s still at the top.”

Matched to Win, Not to Test

Joshua has been matched well by his promoter, Eddie Hearn, to keep him out of harm’s way, and when he did take a risky fight against Wladimir Klitschko, it didn’t happen until his fourth year as a pro when Ukrainian was 39.  Was that a coincidence that Joshua fought Wladimir when he’d gotten old, or was it a strategic move?

“From the minute I’ve laced up these gloves from the amateurs until now, I’ve managed to keep my name at the top of the amateur scene and the professional scene,” said Joshua. “It’s just the truth, it’s just how it is, and I think it’ll be that way until I don’t want to fight anymore.”

Joshua has got the mindset of a top heavyweight, and he’s being kept busy to get the most out of his career. He’s able to get fights that less popular heavyweights can only dream of.

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