Since his gold-medal finish in the super heavyweight division at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, British boxer Anthony Joshua hasn’t slowed down. Since October, Joshua has fought six times — the first six bouts of his professional career — and none of his opponents have survived the second round. His last bout, on May 31 against Matt Legg on the Carl Froch-George Groves undercard at Wembley Stadium, lasted 1 minute 23 seconds. However, his next opponent has something Joshua lacks in spades: experience.
“I’m not trying to run a 100m sprint. I’m on a marathon now so next year will be interesting to see where we go,” Joshua said in an interview with Sky Sports News. “But I’ve really got to focus on July 12 against Matt Skelton who should give me some problems.”
Joshua isn’t just fighting well, though; he’s arguably the hottest boxer on the planet.
He has shown poetic footwork and thrown authoritative combinations every time he’s entered the ring. His patience and ability to bide time — paradoxical, considering how quickly he tattoos opponents — makes Joshua’s precision and ring temperament all the more impressive.
Joshua, 24, will fight Skelton on Saturday in Liverpool, England. Skelton, a former world championship challenger, is no slouch at 28-8-0, with 23 wins by way of knockout. And while Joshua has generated much interest because of his quick-strike abilities, Skelton has only been knocked out four times in his career.
But Skelton, the 2008 European heavyweight champion, is also 47 years old and has been dispatched easily in his past two fights.
Joshua’s powerful uppercuts and concussive hook combinations are the primary reason why he holds a 78 percent power reading. But he has yet to be tested, and for a fighter who hasn’t experienced a real moment of competition since turning professional, there’s no way of knowing how he’ll react to the challenge.
“If I can compete with Matt Skelton and he gives me more problems than anyone has put on me at the minute then I will be more than happy to take the fight,” Joshua said. “I can only beat what is put in front of me right now. it will be interesting to see where my management takes me heading towards that British title, but what an honor it would be to fight for the British title.”
Since 1952, only five Olympic heavyweight champions have turned professional and gone on to win the world heavyweight title. Anthony Joshua might make it six.
Josh Planos has had his work featured at Rivals, Bleacher Report, Denver Post, CBS Sports Radio, Fox Sports Radio, and ESPN Radio, and is currently a columnist for the ESPN TrueHoop Network, FanSided and The Pick and Roll. He loves interacting with readers via Twitter (@JPlanos).