Anthony Joshua (15-0, 15 KOs) was finally tested, and he passed. He defeated Dillian Whyte (16-1) on Saturday night at the O2 Arena in London by seventh-round knockout in a thrilling fight. Joshua picked up the British heavyweight title in the process.
Laceupboxing shared a replay of the destructive finish:
Whyte pushed Joshua to a deeper portion of the pool than he'd ever been to—and even wobbled him in the second round with a left hook—but he couldn't drown the 26-year-old from Watford.
The fight was packed with action, drama and some legitimate bad blood. Joshua avenged a loss to Whyte during their amateur careers, and the two traded ill-natured barbs throughout the buildup to Saturday's scrap. The nastiness was apparent after the first round.
Joshua landed a shot on Whyte after the bell, and the latter went ballistic. Though referee Howard John Foster stepped between the two British behemoths, he couldn't contain Whyte, who tried to retaliate with a haymaker over the top of the official.
Per this image from Laceupboxing, Foster took the brunt of the blow:
Thankfully, it didn't land—at least not on Joshua—and the scene didn't get uglier as representatives from both corners and members of security spilled into the ring. Fight fans who have been around for a while might remember the brawl that took place during Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Zab Judah's bout in 2006.
This looked a lot like that.
Calm was restored, and Whyte was given some time between rounds to recover from the shot—and to regain his wind. The adrenaline and energy he expended in the fracas seemed to leave him gassed.
He put the replenished energy to good use in the second round.
With Joshua pursuing hard, looking for the early knockout, Whyte landed a nasty left hook on Joshua's chin. The big man's legs did a little dance, but he didn't go down. In fact, it seemed as though he had regained enough wherewithal to defend himself within a few moments.
He was still shaky as he went to his corner at the end of the round, but any questions about Joshua's chin should have been answered with that sequence. Whyte has 13 knockouts in 17 fights, and he has demonstrated enormous power.
For him to catch Joshua as flush as he did and not drop him says something for the new champion.
It took about a round or so for Joshua to restore the pressure he was applying early, but in the fourth frame, he began landing shots on Whyte that could have dropped a mule. Showing off his own beard, the 27-year-old Whyte took them with little give in his legs. Boxing Monthly marveled at Whyte's ability to take Joshua's punches:
The shots scored, but it seemed as though there was no way this fight was going to go the distance.
In the seventh, Joshua looked to be in full control. He proved it with a smashing sequence that saw him land a devastating straight right hand, sending Whyte into the ropes. Assured that he had just hurt his opponent, Joshua followed and whaled away at his reeling rival.
A sick right uppercut powered through Whyte's weakened guard, and he fell into the bottom rope in a manner that almost always causes the referee to skip the 10-count. Joshua made his statement.
Some vulnerabilities in Joshua's game were exposed. His defense against the left hook to the body and head was spotty. In the heavyweight division, that can lead to a one-punch knockout.
His stamina looked good, but he became a headhunter at points and abandoned the jab early. Still, there was more good than bad. He's a freak of nature physically and displayed the heart and chin of a champion. At such a young age, the sky is the limit for him.
A new opponent already seems to be positioning himself for a shot at Joshua, as ESPN.com's Dan Rafael noted:
David Haye's speed, experience and power would make him a formidable opponent for Joshua—if the 35-year-old from London still has something left in the tank. He's scheduled to take on Mark de Mori on January 16 after a three-and-a-half-year layoff.
A fight against Joshua could be next if Haye takes care of business.
Though Whyte lost, don't feel too sorry for him. As Boxing Monthly tweeted, both Joshua and Whyte came away with their reputations enhanced—or at least intact:
It would be great to see Whyte in the ring with someone like WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder or even the up-and-coming Joseph Parker. There are some new kids on the heavyweight block.
This fight was epic, and Tyson Fury dethroned Wladimir Klitschko. Suddenly, the division doesn't look dull. A number of interesting fights are on the horizon, and that's not just good news for the big fellas; it's ultimately great for the entire sport.
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