Talk about making an entrance; British gold medalist and highly touted heavyweight prospect Anthony Joshua (1-0) needed just 2:47 to dispose of Emanuele Leo (8-1) in his professional debut at the O2 Arena in Greenwich, London on Saturday.
The 6'6", 23-year-old from Watford, Hertfordshire was in control in a major way from the opening bell. The power and stiffness in his jab was apparent. Leo’s head snapped back every time the Brit landed a punch.
This is obviously just the first fight in what many British boxing fans hope will become a long and successful career, but it is hard to be more impressive in a debut. Joshua looked chiseled out of granite, calm, relaxed and vicious when he had his man hurt.
Though he landed a bevy of punches, the one that torched Leo and sent him to the canvas was a straight right hand. On a night when Wladimir Klitschko successfully defended his lineal and non-lineal titles in a less-than appealing unanimous decision over Alexander Povetkin, Joshua gave boxing fans hope that perhaps a more entertaining prospect is on his way to add some spice to the bland division.
Expect to see Joshua take on a few more fighters on Leo’s level before he faces any noteworthy opponents. If he can continue to look as impressive as he did on Saturday, the buzz around him will continue to grow.
At times, successful British heavyweights have had a tough time accruing fans in America, but the nearly consensus desire for a fresh face atop the division could make stateside fans embrace Joshua.
Beyond the Klitschko hangover, Joshua’s skills speak a language that all fight fans understand and respect. Knockouts translate to any form of vernacular and breach the gap of cultural divide.
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