The Anthony Joshua bandwagon comes to town on Saturday night, bringing 80,000 fight fans to the Welsh capital to witness the destructive nature of one of boxing’s biggest stars.
Carlos Takam is the man standing in the eye of the storm, thoughts from most boxing quarters of how many rounds will he last, more so than the less believable subject of victory in the conversations that are being discussed.
The Londoner has risen to this point of power with devastating effect on the sports top division, slaying all before him, none making the feat of hearing the final bell, giving the judges an easy payday in the process.
So as we tick down the days to Saturday night, I decided to list Joshua’s top opposition to date:
29th April 2017 | Wladimir Klitschko | TKO 11
Klitschko may not have been the champion of the time, but still represented a changing of the guard in many ways. The king who had ruled for over a decade had since lost his throne to Tyson Fury, reasoning for him doing so revolving around age/wear and tear of the man known as Dr Steelhammer.
It is because of the scepticism of fight fans that his time had come and gone that breed a thought process from Klitschko wanting to prove people wrong, exhibiting such on a glorious night at Wembley Stadium.
We had called for Joshua to face someone worthy of his heavyweight standing, on April 29th we got our wish with a remarkable heavyweight showdown.
This was to be Joshua’s day in the sun, he was asked multiple questions of his ability by Klitschko, even questioning his ability to fight back from adversity as he lay on his back following a hard right hand that dropped him to the canvas in the sixth.
Klitschko unveiled one of the best performances of his career that night but youth triumphed, Joshua, ushering in a new era he put Klitschko out to pasture in the eleventh.
12th December 2015 | Dillian Whyte | TKO 7
Bad Blood between the two which emanated from their amateur days brought a little more heat to an already boiling pot. Both men to this day harbour resentment for the other which lends its hand to a future rematch.
Whyte had beaten Joshua in the unpaid ranks claiming still to have ‘AJ’s’ number even as a professional, the contest proved different. Whyte did, however, prove a more stubborn obstacle than Joshua had been acquainted with, He rocked the champion on a couple of occasions throughout the rounds that the contest lasted, before succumbing to the power as he folded like a cheap tent in rainy season.
25th June 2016 | Dominic Breazeale | TKO 7
The American came to UK shores with thoughts of grandeur, a point to prove that America was readying its next heavyweight champion. Breazeale full of the confidence of an unbeaten fighter, came into the contest on the back of two decent wins over Fred Kassi and Amir Mansour which on reflection was never going to be enough to prepare him for the wrecking ball that he was faced on June 25th, 2016.
Following the blueprint that Whyte had implemented to a certain extent, Breazeale tried to also enter the headspace of Joshua as the two engaged in verbal tennis in the run-up to the contest.
It was the intention to somehow take Joshua into the deep waters of the contest which he was successful in doing, the issue was that Joshua was a keen swimmer in turns out as he stopped him in seven.
9th April 2016 | Charles Martin | KO 2
The American came to the ring wearing a crown, brash with confidence by the bucketload. He had initially beaten Vyachelav Glazkov for the IBF title which added to the occasion, for Joshua, on the night it was like taking candy from a baby.
Martin expanded most of his energy talking about himself in the third person beforehand as Joshua needed just two rounds to pop another American bubble.
10th December 2016 | Eric Molina | TKO 3
The IBF Inter-Continental Heavyweight champion at the time, Molina was an opponent who had made it to the top of the mountain a couple of times previous, only to lose his footing when it mattered most. Losses to the likes of Deontay Wilder and Chris Arreola painted a picture of boxing’s nearly man which became the case in this one.
Molina in the fight previous had finally got a win over a notable name in Thomaz Adamek which drew confidence for the road that led to a shot at Joshua’s IBF title, he had also been the man who came closest to dethroning Wilder although a headache on the following Sunday gave a slightly different story.
Joshua in truth was never really tested by Molina, three patient rounds led to Joshua deciding he had enough with the charade, putting a full stop to Molina’s title ambitions shortly after.
These five fights have led to this point, Joshua’s star has never shone brighter than it does today, a win is almost as sure as the Principality stadium will be loud. A victory will open the door to more competitive matchups as we fight fans hope to see a Wilder /Parker/Ortiz showdown in 2018.