Anthony Joshua is still rough around the edges - as Tyson Fury would surely have shown, says Steve Bunce

Joshua is the world champion by default, his progress interrupted by a fortuitous piece of idiocy by the IBF when they stripped Fury last December

Anthony Joshua celebrates defeating Dominic Breazeale to retain the IBF World Heavyweight Title
Anthony Joshua celebrates defeating Dominic Breazeale to retain the IBF World Heavyweight Title

Big Anthony Joshua should be back in the gym today throwing handfuls of rice in preparation for the day he fights a man that can move, avoid a punch and counter. If Joshua had been in the ring with Tyson Fury on Saturday night he would still be chasing shadows and moving on the same straight lines inside a darkened ring.

Instead, at the O2 Dominic Breazeale risked injuring Joshua’s fists during his audition for a walking punchbag in front of nearly 20,000 people that cheered their idol’s every flexed muscle. The Met police might soon need to look into the dangers of such large gatherings of the brain-washed and their distorted view of reality. They all need to know that there is not a premium phone line available to reinstate their favourite if he loses.

Breazeale was fantastically brave and Joshua was patient, but this was a world heavyweight championship fight not six rounds at York Hall and I have no idea what people expect when two men are paid a fortune for walking in the footsteps of the greats?

Michael Buffer, the slick MC, invoked the ghosts of champions past with a moving eulogy to Muhammad Ali and then Joshua, in the white robe as predicted, shuffled pleasantly to the ring to fill the Greatest’s boots. Well, that is what it said in the script but Joshua lacks an ounce of guile, not a single feint all night, not a punch thrown that was not first detected high over the Atlantic Ocean and the insulting argument that “nobody can take his punches” is about as persuasive as Farage on immigration. A tidy axiom is not gospel, it is simply a tidy axiom no matter how often it is repeated.

Joshua went into round four for only the second time in his career and that was the end of his creative loop; the total of his variety was exhausted by the time the bell sounded for round four and that should be a concern for everybody in the Joshua business; a refusal to correct the flaws now will lead to a disaster sooner rather than later. He is the most talented heavyweight prospect since Lennox Lewis and needs to now put a bit more intelligence behind his work in the ring. He is, it has to be said, as far from being a stiff bum as he is from being the finished product, and it is on such diverse lines that people discuss the nice guy from Watford.

Joshua lands a punch on Breazeale 

Breazeale might as well have been swinging from a butcher’s hook in a giant abattoir fridge and that is not meant as an insult. The American was brave and only went down in round seven after taking a pitiless beating during every second of the fight.

Joshua is the world champion by default, his progress interrupted by a fortuitous piece of idiocy by the IBF when they stripped Fury last December. Two men fought for the vacant title, the winner came to London and fell over against Joshua in April and that led to Breazeale’s arrival. Joshua, it has to be said, has done nothing wrong but it is now time to seriously analyse the man that is being packaged as the saviour of a sport.

On Saturday night he would have needed a bag of rice to touch Fury, a sack of rice to get anywhere near Wladimir Klitschko, David Haye would have hit from so many angles he would have been rebranded compass, and the WBC incumbent Deontay Wilder would have hit him all night with long jabs and looping right hands. This is not fanciful posturing, this is based on the little that Breazeale showed and, trust me, you needed a watchful eye to detect the positives.

When Joshua was stopped in June 2011 by a rough Romanian at the European championships he was on his feet but out of ideas and puff. There is nothing wrong with Joshua’s heart or chin, but unless he learns about the boxing business he will run out of ideas against men with talent to match their desire. It is time to start flexing the muscle inside of his head because without brain he is just a likeable strongman with a nice smile and impressive sponsorship deals. He might be a big brother, but boxing is not a reality television show.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in