Anthony Joshua MBE claimed his first professional title on Saturday night with a brutal second round KO of Denis Bakhtov – and chillingly warned his Heavyweight rivals: ‘My power is only going to grow.’
The Olympic gold medal hero blasted Bakhtov out of the equation in just five ruthless minutes in east London – back in the venue of his debut last October.
Joshua signalled his intent in the opening round, staggering the Russian with a fierce right counter that led to the 24 year old hunting a fourth first-round stoppage.
Bakhtov, in his 48th pro fight, survived to hear the bell but Joshua’s assault began in earnest at the beginning of the second stanza and referee Ian John Lewis had seen enough after two minutes to make it nine KOs in nine fights for Joshua.
“I thought he was going to be taking me five or six rounds but it’s going well and I’m putting the work in at the gym and it’s paying off on fight night,” said Joshua.
“I think it’s my accuracy really more than the power, I haven’t been doing much strength work recently because I have been in the gym so much, so I think speed and accuracy is getting me through right now.
“He came out game and as a fighter you can tell someone wants to have a go, he tried to slip in a left hook and I adjusted and thought ‘OK, this is what you are bringing to the table’ – I was back at The O2 and in London for the first time in a while so the adrenaline was pumping.”
Joshua, who turns 25 on Wednesday, now focusses his attentions on Michael Sprott whom he faces at the sold-out Echo Arena in Liverpool on November 22 live on Sky Sports Box Office – where victory over the former British champion and European title challenger will complete ‘phase one’ of his future plans.
“That fight will complete a phase in my mind,” said Joshua. “People have been saying since my second fight ‘he needs to stop fighting tin cans’ and all that, it takes time though and if I keep beating people then I am going to move up, so if I beat Michael then I am sure we’ll be stepping up in 2015. We’ve done Bakhtov and got the WBC International belt and now we’re looking at Sprott, so by the end of 2015 it will be interesting to see where we are.”
SELBY OUTCLASSES BRUNKER TO LAND WORLD TITLE SHOT
Welshman stops unbeaten Aussie in nine rounds in London
Lee Selby will challenge for the IBF World Featherweight title after a dominant performance against Joel Brunker at The O2 on Saturday night.
Selby peppered the visitor from the opening bell with his full arsenal of shots until the middle of the ninth round when a vicious left to the body took everything out of Brunker and Selby pounced closed the show moments later, responding to the critics who wanted to see more spiteful finishing from the Barry stylist.
The 27 year old will watch on with interest when IBF champion Evgeny Gradovich defends his title for fourth time against Jayson Velez in Omaha on November 29, and Selby insists that a World title shot will bring out the best in him.
“It was a good performance but there is a lot more to come,” said Selby. “I wanted to make a statement and silence the critics, I hardly lose a round in my fights, I can’t remember the last time that I lost one, but I still get criticised, so I thought I would put on a show.
“Joel is a tough customer, he took some really hard shots and it shows how much I have progressed because it was a lot closer when we sparred a few years ago.
“Going into a fight as a favourite then I know I am going to win, but going into a tough fight like Saturday where it was 50-50 or if I am an underdog, you get a real performance from me.”
Selby would become the 12th World champion from Wales and the third to win the Featherweight crown, and he believes that he would take the title from the Russian.
“Gradovich is perfect for my style and I think I would do a similar job on him,” said Selby. “He’s fighting at the end of November and I think he’ll come through in that fight so we can get it on early next year, I think I am entitled to a little break because I have been non-stop in the gym for four years, you can count the days off I have had on your hands.
“I’ve come from nothing in life and in boxing and now I am on the cusp of being a World champion. My feet are still on the ground and I am very focused, it’s not until I hang them up that I’ll look back and be proud of them, but I have a lot more left to achieve, I haven’t even started yet.”