Anthony Joshua: From London 2012 Olympic gold medalist to world heavyweight champion

Joshua will aim to defend his world titles against Oleksandr Usyk on 25 September

Sarah Rendell
Monday 20 September 2021 14:09
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<p>Anthony Joshua will take on Oleksandr Usyk this weekend </p>

Anthony Joshua will take on Oleksandr Usyk this weekend

Heavyweight boxer Anthony Joshua will aim to retain his titles as he takes on Oleksandr Usyk in a bout on Saturday.

The 31-year-old won the IBF, WBA and WBO belts after defeating Andy Ruiz Jr in 2019 and Joshua has said he won’t fold under pressure in the duel with Usyk.

He told Sky Sports: “With Usyk, it’s another great, great champion. A great, great fighter and I don’t fold under pressure. This is fun, this is a deep practice. So when I get in the ring on 25 September, this is time to practice everything I know.

“So I’m rather experienced now and you have to go through a lot of trials and tribulations. I want to fight the Usyks, I want to fight champions because that’s where you find out how strong you are. So for me, like, bring it on. I cherish that. I’m not asking for strength and then just want it easy.”

Born in Anthony Oluwafemi Olaseni Joshua in Watford, Hertfordshire, on 15 October 1989 and growing up in Garston, Hertfordshire and Nigeria, he attended Mayflower School in Ikenne and Kings Langley Secondary School in Hertfordshire.

He is the cousin of fellow boxer Ben Ileyemi and they made their professional debuts together in 2013.

Joshua first started to gain traction in the sport in 2009 when he won the Haringey Box Cup and he retained the title a year later. He hadn’t attracted attention before that point as he only took up the sport in 2007.

As an amateur, alongside the cup win he claimed the ABA Championships in 2010 and 2011 and he became the British amateur champion at the 2010 GB Championships and won a silver medal at the 2011 World Championships. That accolade bagged him a spot on Team GB for the 2012 Olympics.

Anthony Joshua won a gold medal at the London 2012 Games

Joshua won gold at the London Games after beating Roberto Cammarelle in the final via count-back. He had an amateur record of 40-3 before he turned professional under Matchroom Sport in 2013.

His first professional bout came against Emanuele Leo where he won via technical knock-out (TKO) in the first round on the undercard of Scott Quigg vs Yoandris Salinas. He followed up the win just a few weeks later with another TKO victory over Paul Butlin. Joshua rounded out the year with yet another TKO of Hrvoje Kisicek.

In 2014, he defeated Dorian Darch by TKO, Hector Alfredo Avila via knock-out, Matt Legg by KO, Matt Skelton via a second-round stoppage and Konstantin Airich by a third-round stoppage. He then beat Dennis Bakhtov by KO to win the WBC belt and he retained the belt against Michael Sprott.

After a few months out of the sport due to a back injury, Joshua was back to winning ways in April 2015 as he knocked out Jason Gavern. He then fought and defeated Raphael Zumbano and Kevin Johnson. Joshua then challenged Gary Cornish in a Commonwealth heavyweight title fight and the WBC International belt was also on the line. Joshua won the bout via KO in the first round.

Dillian Whyte was Joshua’s next fight and the Brit maintained his undefeated run with a seventh-round KO to defend his Commonwealth title but only after a slugfest between the two former sparring partners.

Joshua kept winning and gained millions of fans in the process. In 2016 he defeated Charles Martin to win his first world title in the IBF, he then beat Dominic Breazeale via KO in June of the same year before seeing off Eric Molina, again by KO.

In 2017 he was victorious over Wladimir Klitschko in an instant classic at Wembley Stadium where Joshua was floored before knocking the legendary Ukrainian down twice on the way to an 11th round knockout win.

He was then billed to bout Kubrat Pulev - but after he suffered an injury, Carlos Takam stepped in his place just 12 days before the fight. Joshua defeated Takam via TKO in the 10th round but many viewed it as a premature stoppage.

Joshua beat Wladimir Klitschko in a classic in 2017

March 2018 saw Joshua forced to go the distance for the first time in his professional career as he defeated Joseph Parker via unanimous decision to retain his title and claim the WBO belt. Later that year, Joshua took on Alexander Povetkin and defeated him via KO.

2019 brought the most difficult period of Joshua’s career. He was initially billed to fight Jarrell Miller before the American subsequently tested positive for banned substances. Mexican-American Andy Ruiz Jr was named as a late replacement only to stun the champion condemning him to the first defeat of his professional career. The knockout defeat saw him lose his world titles in one of the biggest boxing upsets in history.

Later that year a rematch was announced between the boxers and this time a much-improved Joshua came out on top with a unanimous decision in Saudi Arabia to reclaim his titles.

In 2020 it was announced Joshua would fight Pulev but the fight was postponed due to the pandemic. It was re-arranged for December of that year and the Brit won via KO, leaving his next fight against Usyk as a much-anticipated return to the ring.

With Usyk’s speed expected to be a factor, 6ft 5in Joshua is set to weigh in significantly lighter than he did for the Pulev fight. The Ukrainian is seen as one of the most dangerous fights of Joshua’s career with the man himself ranking only his clash against Klitschko as tougher.

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