• Steve Bunce

Joshua can whack people on the chin

Steve Bunce July 30, 2013
Steve Bunce believes special boxers will have to be hand-picked for Anthony Joshua © PA Photos
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He has gone! As expected, speculation ended last week when Olympic super-heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua decided he was no longer going to fight as an amateur and turned professional.

It means, instead of battling his way through the hard fights he was having at the World Championships in Azerbaijan and the London Olympics - fights he was winning by a point or losing by a point - he'll now get easy fights.

He will be in fights where he will get to whack people on the chin and watch them fall over. It will be like magic.

This is the mad thing that makes boxing a unique sport: The easier the victory, the more criticism that he will get! Realistically, Joshua would be better off winning narrowly on points over a hard, six round fight than just knocking people out. However, if that happened people would moan that he lacks power.

The fact remains that Joshua isn't going to face anybody who will pose a risk to the multi-million pound investment in his talents.

Like all good heavyweights who turn pro, Joshua will need protecting from his own ability. He is too good for almost all of the heavyweights in Britain over three rounds. But not those who go beyond three rounds and have something left in the tank and they will have to be avoided.

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David Haye will face Tyson Fury on September 28 © Getty Images

So that's the job of the people protecting, promoting and hyping Joshua. Also, you won't see any six-packs on the men fighting Joshua. Don't be fooled by that, though; no one has ever been knocked out by a six-pack!

Special men will have to be hand-picked for Joshua. If they go three rounds, it could get interesting - so, you can't have them go that far. You've got to knock them out, which is where the conflict rises.

At the moment, boxing fans want to see Anthony Joshua in big fights. But fighters who turn professional in the modern age after the Olympics are never in 'big' fights; there's a two year period where they are allowed to hit people on the chin without being hit in return. It's an unwritten pact we have in boxing regarding elite fighters.

When Lennox Lewis turned professional in 1989, nobody cared. He fought on undercards in forgotten places against forgotten fighters. Nobody batted an eyelid if he looked terrible and whacked someone who looked even worse, with a big fat belly. No one gave a monkey's!

However, when Audley Harrison turned pro some 12 years later, people were up in arms as soon as he fought a guy that was hopeless, fat, useless or all three. Unlike Lennox, Audley was under a lot of pressure. He did, it has to be said, get well paid for his early fights.

So it's going to be really interesting to see how much the patience of the paying public is tested. Joshua has Eddie Hearn, who knows his way around the boxing business, as his promoter. Ed is the genius in the Joshua business - the rest are rank amateurs, agents and other newcomers to the business who don't understand the way it works.

it will be a lively year or so watching Joshua and seeing just how the public deals with his fights. Joshua is an exceptional talent, a potential multi-millionaire but right now he is the sporting equivalent of Bambi with a good left jab.

Punters will want to see Anthony Joshua in slug fests for major titles straight away; it's not going to happen. It will be 18 months of him carefully demolishing hand-picked opponents, most of whom will look dreadful. It is the only way, the only way he will learn. It's the only way to become what he wants to be - a world heavyweight champion.

Trust me.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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Steve Bunce has been ringside in Las Vegas over 50 times, he has been at five Olympics and has been writing about boxing for over 25 years for a variety of national newspapers in Britain, including four which folded! It is possible that his face and voice have appeared on over 60 channels worldwide in a variety of languages - his first novel The Fixer was published in 2010 to no acclaim; amazingly it has been shortlisted for Sports Book of the Year.