Anthony Joshua already shares some of the attributes that helped to make Muhammad Ali ‘The Greatest’, according to acclaimed sports writer Kevin Mitchell.
The Guardian’s boxing correspondent also believes that Joshua won’t be overly troubled when he defends his WBA IBO, IBF world heavyweight titles against WBO champion Joseph Parker at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium on March 31st.
Like the majority of boxing experts and pundits, Mitchell backs the bigger stronger man, stating: “Parker doesn’t have the one-punch power to inconvenience Joshua.”
The Briton emulated Ali at amateur level by winning Olympic gold, and since turning pro has become the most accomplished fighter on the global heavyweight scene.
Only New Zealand’s Parker and American Deontay Wilder, who holds the WBO belt, stand between him unifying the division’s various world titles.
Joshua’s toughest fight so far came against Wladimir Klitschko in April 2017, when he survived a mid-fight knockdown to beat the formidable Ukrainian in 11 rounds.
Mitchell told Elephant Sport that Joshua shares a similar resilience to Ali, in the way that each man can bite down on his mouth-piece and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
“Ali and Joshua have the same quality of wanting to keep going,” he said. “When Joshua got up [in the sixth round] against Klitschko, he was smiling… he was actually smiling.”
‘Joshua never made any excuses, and that says a lot to me… He’s a real fighter’ – Kevin Mitchell
He compared this to Ali’s 1970 victory over Oscar Bonavena by TKO in the 15th round, highlighting the ‘Desperation Factor’ that grants truly great champions the ability to gather their strength and summon a win from the brink of disaster.
Mitchell is a big admirer of Joshua, saying: “He’s got a good range of punches,” and that “he’s always in shape.” But his most striking comment of all was: “He’s got a ruthless streak, Joshua… he loves knocking people out.”
Joshua’s menacing trait is so often overlooked, as his humble and friendly demeanour outside of the ring can easily camouflage his vicious competitiveness.
Another admirable facet of Joshua is his attitude and refusal to make excuses when things don’t go so well.
Mitchell made this evident, when praising Joshua’s character, as the Brit has never spoken about the head-butt that broke his nose in the early rounds of his win over Carlos Takam last October.
“He never made any excuses, and that says a lot to me… He’s a real fighter.”
Mitchell’s analysis and breakdown of Anthony Joshua’s talents gave me a new-found admiration for the towering Adonis of heavyweight boxing, who over the past few years cemented himself as the man at 200lbs and over.
To have his qualities compared to the greatest heavyweight ever to set foot in the ring, in a career that has spanned just five years to date, is a testament to the potential of Joshua.
Should he emerge victorious in emphatic fashion on March 31st, he’ll be one step closer to fulfilling that potential, and one step closer to matching the achievements of ‘The Greatest’.
Kevin is on Twitter @kevinmitchell50