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The Post Klitschko Version of Anthony Joshua Is Here To Stay

Is Anthony Joshua vs. Dillian Whyte rematch next?


The Post Klitschko Version of Anthony Joshua Is Here To Stay

Photo Credit: Dave Thompson/Matchroom Boxing

The Post Klitschko Version of Anthony Joshua Is Here To Stay

The Anthony Joshua we knew before April 29, 2017 no longer exists and fans should stop waiting for that version to return.

Whenever two heavyweights meet in the ring, you get some heavy leather exchanged, and the chances of a knockdown or knockout occurring are high. Former unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua faced Jermaine Franklin on DAZN yesterday, and the expectation levels were high for Joshua to deliver a knockout with new trainer Derrick James in his corner. The heavyweight clash did occur at the O2 Arena, but the knockout did not happen, and the fight lacked the sizzle associated with these big fights.

As I mentioned in my prediction article, Joshua did come out from the start with his left jab and used it often to keep Franklin at the distance he desired. While the thought was that he would do that to gain confidence and set up those big combinations we are used to seeing from him, that just never happened. It wasn’t that Franklin was jabbing his way in and making the fight ugly to frustrate Joshua because he didn’t; Joshua was hesitant to exchange with Franklin. The 29-year-old Franklin had his moments throughout the fight, but they were few and far between. The real story was that even in moments when Franklin was stunned, Joshua lacked the killer instinct to go after him.

Picture By Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing

Joshua has not been the same since fighting Wladimir Klitschko in 2017, and no one on this planet can argue with that. That fight was brutal, and Joshua was hurt badly in the sixth round when ‘Dr. Steel Hammer’ nearly turned his lights off. But we all know that Joshua survived that and, in later interviews, mentioned that he had no desire to ever be in that type of fight again. We should have believed him since Joshua has tried his best to avoid big exchanges, and when he has been forced into them, he gets stunned while also looking unsure of himself.

This isn’t a knock-on Joshua, as boxing is a brutal sport, and if he wants to be a fighter looking to take less risk while finding a way to win, then so be it. I think things get confusing when his Promoter, Eddie Hearn, and the marketing folks at DAZN put out this image of the old Joshua, who was an aggressive knockout fighter. That isn’t him anymore, and his team needs to start accepting that, as you can only fool the general public so many times before they catch on to the hustle.

You can say that this opinion is in the minority, but a potential future challenger of Joshua, Dillian Whyte, alluded to the same after watching the fight from ringside. “I don’t think he looked particularly good tonight,” Whyte said during the DAZN broadcast. “He seems a bit apprehensive, the right hand is still there, and the boxing skills are still there, but the aggression is not there.”

Joshua may very well fight Whyte next, and if so, you better believe he will bring the fight to Joshua from the start and force him to be uncomfortable. But do we really want to see that matchup again? I don’t, as there are far more attractive fights out there for Joshua which would generate huge money, like facing Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder, and on the lesser side, Joe Joyce. The fans would love to see those fights, but knowing Hearn and DAZN, they will keep Joshua fighting these lower-level opponents until they feel he is ready while fulfilling the contractual obligations they have with him.

The excitement leading up to the next Joshua fight will be drastically less as we know what he is now; a fighter who will take less risk to gain the same result: winning the fight. The one thing I took away from Saturday night was that if I were Wilder, I would do whatever it takes to get the Joshua fight next as he is tailor-made for the ‘Bronze Bomber’ to detonate one of those big right hands if they were to fight this year.

You can follow Abe on Twitter & Instagram @abeg718 and subscribe to “The Boxing Rush Hour Show” podcast on all streaming platforms.

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Born and raised in the Bronx, New York City, Abe grew up in a family who were and still are die-hard boxing fans. He started contributing boxing articles in 2017 while being an active duty U.S. Marine. Abe is the Managing Editor for Big Fight Weekend and also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA).

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