Anthony Joshua will end 2020 as the WBA, IBF, and WBO heavyweight champion after beating Kubrat Pulev in the latest defense of his three world titles. That victory keeps him on course for a unification contest with Tyson Fury in 2021 to become the unified heavyweight champion.
Defeat to Andy Ruiz Jr in June 2019 rocked Joshua’s career and left many doubting if he was really as good as he had been billed to be. The British boxer avenged that loss in December 2019, while the win over Pulev silenced those critics.
The former Olympic gold medallist has taken a different approach to his last two fights. He has been much more patient and calculated with his attack, particularly in the Ruiz Jr rematch where he simply could not afford to lose.
Joshua maintains the power which got him to the top of the ladder in the heavyweight division. If it wasn’t for a tough Pulev chin, he would have got the win much earlier in the fight against the Bulgarian. His opponent’s toughness did not dishearten the champion though, and a sustained attack in the ninth round in London was enough to keep Pulev down for the count.
Losing in any sport is never easy to take, but in boxing, a defeat can really wreck the confidence of a competitor. Joshua did not allow that to happen to him. He went away from that setback in New York and identified why he lost the fight.
Whether it was complacency or thinking too far ahead to the next steps in his career, Joshua was not at his best against the American. His game plan was much better in the second fight as he boxed at distance and used his reach advantage.
We now know Joshua is more than a knockout machine, we know he is capable of going 12 rounds and winning many of them with better punches than his opponent. His movement around the ring has been far better in his last two fights too.
The fight has yet to be officially announced but the bookmakers have already opened up betting on a Joshua-Fury contest. Joshua is the underdog in the boxing betting at +138 to get the better of the WBC champion. Despite having fought Wladimir Klitschko, Alexander Povetkin, and Joseph Parker, this will be his first fight as the non-favorite and AJ will be fully aware that Fury will be his toughest test to date.
Fury remains unbeaten as a professional. He won his latest world title with an impressive stoppage over Deontay Wilder back in February. Whoever does win this contest will be considered the best of their generation and is likely to go on to be one of the greats in the division.
Regardless of Fury’s record, Joshua is confident he can get the win, and, on the evidence of his last couple of fights, he looks better prepared now for it than in the early stages of 2019. Whatever the outcome, it’s sure to be an exciting fight.