The world’s new heavyweight champion: Anthony Oluwafemi Joshua | This is Africa

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The world’s new heavyweight champion: Anthony Oluwafemi Joshua

With the tattoo of the African continent and Nigeria mapped out on his right shoulder, the Nigerian-British boxer Anthony Joshua who lays heavy claims to his roots continued his winning streak in his professional career and became the undisputed champion of the world heavyweight boxing. Joshua beat former champion and title holder Wladimir Klitschko in the 11th round.



The world of boxing has been dominated by the Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao rivalry for a long time, apart from this contest the sport of boxing seemed to have gone dormant. The Mayweather match was a disappointment to many. It wasn’t what boxing seemed to be like. In a well summarised headline by Sporting News it said, the Anthony Joshua vs. Wladimir Klitschko is what Mayweather vs. Pacquiao should have been.

The heavyweight division, which is considered the ultimate in boxing, was dominated by Wladmir Klitschko for over a decade. With series of fights against contenders like Samuel Peters, Tyson Fury and the likes, it seemed he was going to remain unbeaten. Then enter Anthony Joshua.

For many that have followed the sports of boxing, age is a big issue, just like beauty, it is dependent on the vitality of the body. And even though experience is not needed in beauty, in boxing, it is considered a plus.

October 29 in 1974, there was Rumble in the Jungle in Kinshasa, then Zaire. Muhammad Ali had been banned from the sport in 1967 for three and a half years because he refused to be deployed to fight in the Vietnam War. The young Ali had joined the Nation of Islam (NOI) and was in vehement opposition against the racism he faced when he came back to America after winning a gold medal, which it’s later said he threw into a river. At the time, the heavyweight champion of the world was George Foreman. Foreman was 25 years old and had been fighting continuously since his gold medal win in 1968. Foreman had knocked down Joe Frazier and Ken Norton. His punches were said to pack a lot of weight. He had knocked down Ken Norton in the second round of their fight. Ken Norton, besides Frazier was the only other man in the heavyweight to knock down Ali. He in fact broke Ali’s jaw in the fight and was nicknamed The Jaw Breaker.


Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko on their way to the ring. Photo: Twitter/ @anthonyfjoshua

In the Rumble in the Jungle fight, a consistent tactic Ali employed was leaning on Foreman anytime they happened to clinch at each other. He would also taunt Foreman saying, “They told me you could punch George.” Even when Foreman landed a heavy punch that would have sent other opponents to the ground Ali asked, “Is that all you got?”

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Joshua no doubt drew some experiences from Ali. At a point in the fight, he kept gesturing and telling Klitschko to come meet him. Many times he would lean into Klitschko when they were in a clinch. The 27 year-old Joshua, in similar way Ali used to predict his fights told GQ Magazine in a preview of their cover interview, “I think I will knock Klitschko out. I’m not superstitious about it, but I have a feeling that it will happen in a slightly unexpected way.” Joshua turned pro in 2013 and was considered inexperienced in comparison to Klitschko.

Klitschko, 41, having dominated the heavyweight championship for more than a decade, won 22 fights in a row and only lost to Tyson Fury in 2015. He was ready to take on Joshua in order to reclaim the belt he lost to Fury.


Prior to the match, Joshua had fought 18 matches and won all with technical knockouts (T.K.O). Klitschko far out rated him in the number of matches fought, especially over a 22 year career as compared to Joshua’s three year career.

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The importance of the match was in no doubt important to the two men. For Klitschko, it would have sealed his career as one of the greatest boxers of all time. For Joshua, if he had lost, it would have cast him away, but his victory ricocheted him to the world. Klitschko would have joined Foreman as one of the boxers to win in their 40s and retain the belt. Foreman made a comeback at the age of 45.


Joshua stopped Klitschko in the 11th round. Most of his fights had never gone past the fourth round. This was a perfect and ultimate challenge for him. Klitschko was also the most formidable opponent he had faced in his career. Joshua claimed the IBF, WBA, and IBO heavyweight titles. Joshua’s disastrous right uppercut was one of the most memorable punches in the fight. Both fighters had fallen down in different rounds but still managed to pick up themselves. Klitschko’s right hook landed on Joshua’s head in the sixth round and sent Joshua on the floor. Klitschko later said in the post-match interview, “I did not expect him to get up.” That blow would have knocked down any other fighter, but Joshua got up.

Klitschko fought in the largest arena he’s ever fought in all his life, the 90,000 capacity Wembley. Though he doesn’t feel like he lost, there is a possibility of a rematch. The two boxers showed great respect for each other. This is a fight that won’t be forgotten in a long time, and for all the right reasons. It brought to memory what great boxing really is.

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