By Alan Hubbard
Why is it I am not totally sold on Anthony Joshua? I mean, what’s not to like about him?
He is an amiable young man who won Olympic gold for Great Britain, is now a multi-belted undefeated world heavyweight champion, and since sorting himself out after some youthful aberrations, has become a role model for youngsters everywhere.
He is personable, handsome and articulate.
Somehow I still have reservations about him. Is it because I fear he is an accident waiting to happen with a chin that seems all too frequently vulnerable?
Or is it that he may be becoming too detached from the public who pay exceptionally good money to watch him perform in either arenas or as pay-per-viewers in their homes?
Since ascending the world throne he has become surrounded by a veritable platoon of managers, minders. publicists, mates, gofers, acolytes and other assorted hangers-on who outnumber even the entourage round Muhammad Ali in his heyday. Everyone, it seems wants a piece of his action.
He can hardly call himself as People’s Champion because nowadays he appears too remote from fans and public alike.
Let me make it clear that I like Joshua and believe he is great for boxing but he still has much to prove against decent opposition
As an example, the Boxing Writers’ Club have been trying for almost two years to honour him with a lunch, as traditionally they do for all British world champions. But repeated approaches have come up against his impenetrable wall of minders.
Shame, because Joshua owes much to the publicity accorded him by the media when he was on the way up.
Has he forgotten this?
He has charm and a certain charisma yet so far it has been insufficient to match the popularity of Frank Bruno or Henry Cooper.
Certainly he draws the crowds in their tens of thousands but it is arguable that the majority are simply followers of fashion. There for the occasion, a good night out, as much as the fight.
Or is my reluctance to yet endorse him as one of the greatest because he and his team have so obviously ducked a unification showdown with the big-hitting WBC champion Deontay Wilder?
This has led to speculation that he, and his team, do not fancy his chances in such a risky match-up.
The gymnasium grapevine also has it that he is not too keen on facing Tyson Fury either, should the Mancunian mammoth who so mesmerised Wladimir Klitschko, emerge victorious when he and Wilder meet this December.
I have a feeling that when and if he is paired with either Wilder or Fury one or the other will prove to be his nemesis.
We shall see. Or maybe we won’t.
Let me make it clear that I like Joshua and believe he is great for boxing but he still has much to prove against decent opposition.
However it does not seem likely that he will come a cropper in his engagement this Saturday night, against fellow former Olympic champion Alexander Povetkin at Wembley Stadium, a contest that has proved a harder sell than most of his other five defences.
Although beaten only once in 35 bouts, when he took a brutal 12 pummelling from Klitschko, Povetkin at 39 may be dangerous early on, as David Price will testify, but lacks stamina, especially since he is, we hope, no longer on the ‘juice’ which resulted in him failing two drugs tests, escaping with little more than token admonition thanks to friends in high places.
Some critics say Joshua is a lucky fighter and this may be true. He seemed lucky to get a home-town decision over the Italian copper Roberto Cammarelle in the final of the London Olympics; lucky to meet and easily beat possibly the the worst-ever world heavyweight champion in the hopeless Charles Martin to claim the world title, and lucky to later face a shop-soiled, 41-year-old Klitschko who still managed to upend him.
But on the plus side Josh has certainly helped breathe life back into British boxing.
But even he must be looking over his shoulder at two similarly undefeated youngsters who may one day supplant him as another British heavyweight champion, Daniel Dubois and Nathan Gorman, aged 21 and 22 respectively. With Tyson Fury also very much back in business the future in the heavyweight ranks seems a ring of roses.
I AGREE WITH FRANK WARREN and a host of other good judges (certainly not those at ringside) that Gennady Golovkin was a clear winner over Canelo Alvarez. He was ahead by three rounds on my card. What it proved – again – was the dice are loaded against Triple G in Las Vegas and always will be where the Mexican is such a cash cow.
SADLY 2018 HAS SEEN boxing lose two of the sport’s greatest tutors in trainers Brendan Ingle and now Enzo Calzaghe. Significantly both bred superb world champions in the traditional fashion, scorning the appliance of sports science. What it proves is that sometimes old school offers the best education.