Anthony Joshua sounded another warning to the heavyweight division with a two round destruction of the usually durable Russian Denis Bakhtov at the O2 arena in London. Joshua, looking as ripped as ever, tipped the scales at 16st 12lbs 9oz and tore into Backtov from the off connecting with a hurtful jab at will and following up with big hooks from both hands.
Bakhtov, 16st 4lbs, soaked up the early onslaught and replied with a decent right hook of his own which merely caused Joshua to smile and increase the intensity of his own assault. Bakhtov covered up and saw out the round when many would have folded, but the writing was already on the wall.
Anthony came out for the 2nd in similar mood, and a ramrod jab followed by a straight right and left hook had Denis back on the ropes. The Russian fired back bravely but Joshua poured it on. It seemed as though referee Ian John Lewis was going to stop the fight but the instruction was merely to "break". However, it was only a few more seconds and two big right hands before Mr John Lewis decided, correctly, that Bakhtov had taken enough punishment and called a halt.
Sky sports and Matchroom have already declared Anthony Joshua to be a champion in waiting and on this latest showing it's hard to argue with them. There are still a few caveats with unanswered questions in regard to his chin and stamina and how he'll cope with a man of equal size who hits back, but he's doing everything right and showed a bit of a ruthless streak tonight. Michael Sprott is next up which has been seen as a step back in some quarters but it's really not a problem. Different opponents, different styles, it's all good experience even if they're out of there in a hurry.
Joshua has only been boxing for six years and professional for 12 months so every minute in the ring counts. He's been getting quality sparring, is in great condition, hits hard and is fast and athletic for such a big man. Maybe it is time to jump on the Joshua bandwagon. It's going to be an exciting ride, whatever happens.
Earlier in the evening, Barry's Lee Selby moved himself into the mandatory position for a crack at the IBF featherweight crown. The Welsh slickster turned in an impressive display and halted tough but limited Aussie Joel Brunker in 9 rounds. Selby dominated throughout and a wide points decision looked on the cards but by concentrating more on the body Brunker was eventually stopped on his feet.
Also on the undercard was a cracking scrap between Ricky Boylan and Tyler Goodjohn. Goodjohn bossed the early rounds before Boylan rallied in the middle with Goodjohn finishing strongly too. One judge couldn't split them but the other two gave it 96-94 to Goodjohn, much to the chagrin on the very noisy and animated young lady seated behind me. If Selby hit like she clouted the back of my head at one point, Brunker would have been out of there a lot earlier.
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