Has two-time heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua changed his style for good? As fans know, Joshua boxed a patient, cautious and, yes, dull fight in avenging his loss to Andy Ruiz. Outboxing Ruiz in the return and not looking for the KO any more than he was concerned with thrilling the crowd, Joshua got the job done and put right the wrong he had suffered six months earlier.
But Joshua is so hugely popular because he IS in entertaining fights, because he DOES go for the knockout. But has AJ now changed his style permanently? Much as Wladimir Klitschko drastically altered his ring approach after suffering two bad stoppage losses, to Corrie Sanders and then Lamon Brewster, fans are wondering if the Joshua we saw on December 7 is the model we will see from here on in. The new measured and conservative style Wladimir adopted worked for him to a tee, for many years. Might Joshua look to do the same thing and make protecting his chin his number-one priority?
Eddie Hearn says there is considerable pressure on Joshua to get the KO when he fights his IBF mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev (who AJ is expected to fight in June, the deal very nearly done and dusted).
“I feel that Joshua vs Pulev is a really good fight,” Hearn told Sky Sports. “Two big stand-up heavyweights who can really punch. Pulev has a lot of experience and good ring IQ. Joshua will look to make a statement. He had to box that way against Ruiz because there was no room for error but now people are saying, ‘Show us the knockouts again.’ The pressure is on AJ to produce a knockout. Two big men will trade shots.”
So could the pressure Joshua feels to give his passionate fans an electrifying KO force him to make some mistakes, mistakes that will serve to give Pulev chances? Maybe. But would fans be satisfied with another points win from the WBA/IBF/WBO ruler? In his two decision wins, Joshua, 23-1(21) engaged in dull affairs against Ruiz and before that Joseph Parker. But Hearn says we could be in for a good fight in June. Pulev, 28-1(14) is no monster puncher but he certainly has a dig, and as Hearn says, he is experienced, and the 38 year old Bulgarian is tough (beaten only by Wlad).
Bob Arum is telling everyone Pulev will KO Joshua and end his career. It’s now up to Joshua to prove Arum wrong. It might take some doing, knocking Pulev out, though. Don’t be surprised if we do see another Joshua decision victory in June.