Emerging heavyweight superstar Anthony Joshua has become the darling of the boxing media and, in many minds, the savior of the heavyweight division—with only 19 fights on his ledger and, really, only one bout against an elite-level opponent. Is this too much, too soon for a young, inexperienced fighter? Could this kind of attention and pressure be setting Joshua up for a massive letdown and/or upset?
Realistically, upcoming opponent Carlos Takam (a late replacement for the injured Kubrat Pulev) on October 28 probably won’t be the opponent to upset the Joshua bandwagon. Boxing odds for Carlos Takam vs. Anthony Joshua fight show Joshua as the heavy betting favorite. There’s just a world of talent separating “AJ” from the fringe contender native of Cameroon and it’s unlikely that Takam has the ring presence or overall skillset to compete.
But Takam’s inability to upset doesn’t have anything to do with Joshua’s possibility of being upset.
Despite all the media attention and adulation, Joshua is still a fighter with a very limited professional resume. His eleventh round TKO of Wladimir Klitschko in front of 90,000 screaming fans at Wembley Stadium gave us a pretty good idea of what’s in the heart and soul of the 28-year-old Brit. But there’s not exactly a large body of work there upon which we can truly judge how Joshua will react in a real firefight against an opponent raging to knock the media darling off his pedestal.
Less than two years ago, tenacious but modestly-skilled Dillian Whyte buzzed Joshua early in their bout before eventually being stopped in the seventh round of their clash. That bout, in particular, proved that not only could Joshua be hurt, but he could also be bullied by someone refusing to buy into the idea that they were being matched up against the second coming of Ali, Foreman, Frazier, Lewis, and Tyson.
One has to wonder whether all the hype and fawningly positive attention is messing with Joshua’s head, maybe inflating his ego just enough so as to affect his ability to prepare properly for his bouts.
If Joshua did allow his press clippings to go to his head, he certainly wouldn’t be the first fighter to do so. And it would be understandable how the big fish in a small pond dynamic could come into play for someone like Joshua, who is already becoming somewhat of a folk hero in his native Great Britain.
And, of course, in boxing all it takes is one slip, one blind moment, to not only end a title reign, but also end a career.
The pressure is definitely on Anthony Joshua and while he has thus far shown great composure in handling everything that comes with fame and fortune in the sport, there only has to be the slightest of distractions or breaks in composure before a shooting star becomes a fallen star.