By: Hans Themistode
Words such as strong, powerful and resilient were quickly replaced with fragile, overrated and over the hill.
The first set of words described current unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua for the vast majority of his career. The second set came as a result of four knockdowns and an upset loss at the hands of Andy Ruiz Jr. in June of 2019.
Joshua, would of course dust himself off and step into the ring with Ruiz yet again six months later. The results the second time around were much different as Joshua boxed circles around his man.
With Ruiz now in his rearview mirror, Joshua has been linked to a contest with WBC belt holder Tyson Fury in the not so distant future. The loss to Ruiz may have revealed a few chinks in the muscular armor of Joshua, but for former two division world champion Bernard Hopkins, he believes that the loss to Ruiz will lead to a victory over Fury.
“I like Joshua to be tested in this fight,” said Hopkins to Sky Sports. “To get his feelings hurt early which might be a knockdown but he will get up. I believe that he learned lessons from being overconfident. He paid a big price but he redeemed himself. So now that he has the page in his memory of what not to do, I think Joshua beats Tyson Fury by late knockout. But it will be an interesting and exciting five or six rounds in the beginning. After that, Joshua’s boxing IQ and experience will overwhelm Tyson Fury. I like Joshua by late knockout.”
At only 30 years of age, Joshua has built up an impressive resume. Wins over Wladimir Klitschko, Joseph Parker, Alexander Povetkin, Andy Ruiz and Dillian Whyte have pushed Joshua to a multi year title reign. Conflate those aforementioned victories with the gold Olympic medal dangling around his neck from the 2012 London games, and Joshua has already scratched off most of the goals from his to do list.
Still, greatness is a word that Hopkins does not throw around lightly. With an undisputed title reign at 160 pounds, coupled with his record setting 20 title defenses, the newly inducted hall of famer knows a thing or two about greatness and how to achieve it.
In the case of Fury, Hopkins views him as the path that Joshua needs to take in order to achieve that status. The undefeated WBC belt holder is fresh off a one sided stoppage win against long reigning champion Deontay Wilder.
Their contest was built up to be one of the most competitive and hyped up matches in boxing history. However, Fury delivered a statement on the night as he knocked Wilder down twice before forcing his corner to throw in the towel.
To the hall of famer, Joshua can pick up any amount of wins that he wants. But in order to achieve greatness, only one contest will lead Joshua to that status.
“This fight is Joshua’s stamp of approval of being great, he isn’t there yet,” explained Hopkins. “But this one will get him in the conversation. This is a legacy builder. He has to make a real serious statement.”