Opinion | Jun 03 2019

Anthony Joshua and the strange case of his post-Klitschko decline

Anthony Joshua's loss to Andy Ruiz marks the abrupt end to the reign of a champion who faltered just as he looked set to soar, writes Alex Reid
Anthony Joshua
Joshua's world came crashing down on June 1

IT was the victory that was supposed to make Anthony Joshua. In April 2017 when he stopped Wladimir Klitschko after 11 dramatic rounds, multiple boxes seemed to have been ticked.

The then 27-year-old had proved he could recover from being hurt by a world-class puncher. That he could reverse the trend of a fight that seemed to be slipping away. That he could cope with the pressure of facing an elite opponent in front of 90,000 people and – in the words of his trainer Rob McCracken – “find the punches” to see him triumphant.

More importantly than all this, it was surely an experience he could only build on. Joshua’s amateur career was successful but truncated, while his fearsome power meant professional rounds were in short supply. He required seasoning. Eleven rounds with Dr Klitschko was the perfect prescription: a proof of Joshua’s intangible qualities and an experience he couldn’t help but learn from.