Anthony Joshua smiled for the cameras as he held aloft the collection of belts he had retained with seventh-round knockout of Alexander Povetkin in September at Wembley Stadium.
After being taken the distance for the first time in his career by Joseph Parker last time out, Joshua was back to doing what he does best – knocking people out.
The champion’s triumphant return to the national stadium – the scene of his thrilling title win over Wladimir Klitschko 17 months earlier – was hailed by many ringside pundits and keyboard warriors as one of his best fights.
Champion of 3 sanctioning bodies, 22 wins, 21 by stoppage, what could be wrong?
Defense, believes former cruiserweight and heavyweight champion David Haye.
Povetkin – four inches shorter, almost two stone lighter and with a seven-inch reach disadvantage – hurt Joshua in the opening rounds, breaking his nose and wobbling him with heavy hooks.
Haye, who now earns his money outside the ring as a pundit, believes Joshua’s leaky defense could be a problem if he faces WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder in the future.
“Joshua will need to get his defensive work a little tighter,” Haye told Sky Sports ringside at Wembley. “He can’t afford to get hit with left hooks and right hands like he was tonight when he’s in there with Wilder.”
Frank Warren, Tyson Fury’s promoter, points the finger of blame at Joshua’s coach Rob McCracken, who previously guided Carl Froch to his WBC world super middleweight title.
“I know a lot of people have a lot of respect for Rob McCracken. I don’t think he’s with a trainer who’s great at teaching boxers defence,” Warren told Boxing News. “Carl Froch didn’t have a great defence. Look at his nose. He didn’t have a great defence. He had a great chin.
“Anthony Joshua’s been clipped in every fight he’s ever had. [Carlos] Takam clipped him, every one of them and he got clipped again [against Povetkin] the first round and in the second before he knocked him out. He’s got a big heart. He’s got a big punch.
“If that had been Wilder catching him on the chin, or even Tyson catching him on the chin, do you think they’d have let him off the hook? The answer to that is no,” insisted Warren.
“I don’t look at what fighters are good at doing, I look at what are doing badly or what their flaws are. And his flaw is you can catch him with a right hand. He’s not hard to hit.”
As Joshua waits to discover whether he will face Fury or Wilder at Wembley Stadium next April in his seventh world title defense, there is one nagging doubt in the back of his mind.
“I always think about that one punch,” admitted Joshua after victory over Povetkin. “No one can beat me skill-for-skill, I don’t think. But it’s that one punch: I’d hate for that to be the reason. One punch. And that’s what they’re all looking for.”
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