Anthony Joshua is still a work in progress, but the British world champion answered some big questions in his defeat of Wladimir Klitschko

Gareth A Davies
Anthony Joshua (right) took the fight to Wladimir Klitschko, which is exactly what the fans wanted - Getty Images Europe

 

Five major questions were answered by Anthony Joshua against Wladimir Klitschko. In a fight which grew to epic proportions in the build-up, with so many imponderables given the 14-year age gap and the gulf in experience, both men delivered a heavyweight contest for the ages, with its drama, changing pace and gripping narrative, not to mention the knockdowns on both sides and the see-sawing nature of the battle. 

No event in Britain has ever grown to such a major event with no explosions or expletives from its protagonists to elevate it, but it lived up to the hype created by others. 

This encounter at Wembley had everything despite, or maybe because of, the pressure of 90,000 fans in the arena. The pressure cooker did not bother Joshua one jot. And the tyro completed his rite of passage to stardom and delivered a brutal finish. 

Britain's biggest ever boxing bouts

Here, in arguably the greatest heavyweight fight ever on British shores, Joshua emphatically answered five major questions about himself which were unknown quantities coming into this contest against a first elite opponent in Klitschko, and one who was at his very best.

We know that the 27-year-old Joshua is a work in progress, but we saw five major points to judge him on: chin, heart, stamina, bravery and nervelessness.

Joshua does not appear to suffer nerves, as Frank Bruno once did. He is at peace with losing, if necessary, because it is the desire to fight, and win, that burns so strong. But the desire to fight is what grips him. He could be in the best barnburner ever, and lose, and still feel pleasure. Of course, he and his promoter would never want that. But it is a nuance in his mindset which actually allowed him to deal with the occasion better. 

Klitschko Joshua round by round

There is no question about his chin, as he wore Klitschko’s best shots, and the big Ukrainian has brutal power. The heart we can no longer doubt in any way, after Joshua got up off the floor in the sixth round and came through almost nine horrid minutes when his body went missing, but when his head, led by a champion’s heart, kept him in there. You cannot teach that. This is the Joshua the pubic wanted to see. And it is the Joshua that he wants to be.

Joshua came through that torrid tunnel in the fight when, exhausted and hurt, he weathered the danger of Klitschko. This was a huge learning curve for him both mentally and physically. And it will give him huge confidence in knowing he has been through it and come out the other side.

The 10 most iconic pictures from Joshua's win Klitschko

Then there was the stamina, and the bravery with which he fought back, his second wind helping him destroy Klitschko in an 11th-round assault. It was then that his stamina and fitness showed through as his powerful hooks and exchanges tore into the 41-year-old, who by then felt the age in his legs. 

Klitschko provided the overall test both Joshua and boxing aficionados wanted to witness. We had it in droves. And for that reason Joshua can now be considered the real deal as a heavyweight champion.

One even bigger question now remains: How long can he sustain it? Joshua looks to have a fantastic attitude to his sporting desire, and that needs to continue if he to create a lasting legacy in boxing for himself.

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