Anthony Joshua v Dillian Whyte: Joshua has the hype, but is he really ready for a world heavyweight title fight?

 
Joe Hall
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Boxing at O2 Arena
The future champ? Joshua has long been tipped for the top (Source: Getty)

Less than an hour after Tyson Fury beat Wladimir Klitschko to become heavyweight champion of the world last month, the name of another British pugilist had joined him on Twitter’s trending list: Anthony Joshua.

No sooner had Fury claimed the biggest prize in his sport than boxing fans were immediately lining up Joshua to take it off him in a hypothetical world title fight.

But is the Olympic champion really ready for his sport’s biggest stage?

Having ruthlessly knocked out his 14 opponents in a total of less than 55 minutes, Joshua has spent less time in the ring as a professional than Fury has in his last two fights alone, yet already he has arguably amassed a bigger following of fans. The Watford-born fighter has nearly 500,000 likes on Facebook while the two pages dedicated to Fury have fewer than 100,000 combined.

Read more: Eddie Hearn says Anthony Joshua will be heavyweight champion of the world

Joshua has undoubtedly enjoyed a head start in the publicity stakes thanks to his Olympic gold medal success at London 2012, but has quickly capitalised on the attention with a blistering beginning to his pro career.

The 6ft 6ins giant has obliterated all of his opponents to date in under three rounds and in an average time close to 90 seconds.

On Saturday he will headline a £16.95 pay-per-view show for the first time when he faces Dillian Whyte, while his natural looks and well spoken manner have already won him endorsements with clothing brand FCUK, LA Nutrition and secondary ticketing platform StubHub.


Whyte (l) knocked down Joshua (r) when the pair met as amateurs. (Source: Getty)

Similarly high hopes were held for 2008 Olympic bronze medallist David Price who won his first 15 fights in impressive style only to be knocked out in his first real challenge against Tony Thompson.

Yet we still do not know the strength of Joshua’s chin or how he would fare over a full 12 rounds. What happens when he cannot overwhelm his opponent in a matter of seconds?

Few in the fight game doubt the 26-year-old’s potential and while Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn has been accused at times of handling his prized asset with velvet gloves, he is not helped by the dearth of talent in the division.

American Kevin Johnson was supposed to provide Joshua the chance to get rounds under his belt in May, but was blown away in customary fashion. Fans were left asking whether this meant Joshua was as good as they had hoped or if Johnson was fat, over the hill and unmotivated.

Tomorrow night’s bout could provide the opportunity for some answers. Whyte is a boxer on the up and beat Joshua when the pair met as amateurs in 2009.

Lose and the bubble will burst, but if Joshua overcomes some testing moments as seems likely, or even scores another swift knock-out then that talk of title fights will finally be lent some much-needed credence.

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