The ability to remain calm through a storm is an absolute pre-requisite for any great boxing champion and even fighters adorning most pound for pound lists in boxing’s rich history, have endured worrying patches in fights, surviving wobbles, knockdowns or producing a knockout when seemingly heading for a points defeat.
Think Rocky Marciano v Jersey Joe Walcott, George Foreman v Michael Moorer, or Floyd Mayweather versus Shane Mosley and Marcus Maidana. Each very different in the context of the particular fight and the particular stage of their respective careers but sharing the common factor of displaying a certain calm in the face of adversity, ultimately doing what champions do and securing the victory.
In the first round of his heavyweight title defense on Saturday night, the phenomenon we have become accustomed to calling ‘AJ’, – was staggered by a spiteful left hook from his Russian challenger Alexander Povetkin, that had his legs threatening the kind of dance we have come to expect during an Amir Khan fight.
In fact for the first 3 rounds of the fight, the former WBA Heavyweight Champion Povetkin, provided a constant marauding threat, that called for the cool head and measured approach that Joshua was able to summon and which displayed a previously unseen maturity to his arsenal.
When the time ultimately arrived in the 7th round and the opportunity presented itself, AJ unleashed a right hand down the pipe that had Povetkin stumbling backwards for sanctuary, with his predator in pursuit, finding the punches to send the challenger through the ropes.
The previously unstopped Russian managed to regain his feet and beat the count, but upon the restart the champion mercilessly let his fists rain down his shorter foe and the referee had no option but to call a halt to the action.
It was a performance fans would expect of a proven champion, but which belied a 22 fight novice, which most forget that AJ is – and it proved that is still learning and improving with every fight.
Post fight, attention turned to April 13th and who will be next to face Joshua across the ring.
The heavy hitting American Deontay Wilder, seems to be the pick for AJ and the Sky panelist’s alike, with the name of former foe Dillian Whyte thrown in as the most likely plan b.
However, despite a good performance from Joshua, and the checking of a new box on the essential ingredients of a dominant champion – one thing was inexplicable in its absence.
The seeming reluctance of all the commentators and AJ himself to mention the F word.
What’s that about?