Joshua, Wilder And Lesson of Helenius
I am yet to see any heavyweight boxer as tough as Muhammad Ali.
Ali looks so fragile but hitting Ali’s body is like punching a bag of cement, one of his rivals, Ken Norton has said.
Ali would not protect his body, he had trained his body so hard, suffered his skin and made it so tough to withstand the pains in the ring.
His skin is overstretched, elastic and difficult to break. Ali only hid is head away from punches. The only fights he lost were on his feet.
Ali always invented new style to fight new opponent and it worked for him throughout his career.
Ali’s style made it easy for smoking Joe Frazier and Norton to go a long distance with him but ended the most ferocious George Foreman with a knockout in round eight.
This same Foreman that dispatched Frazier and Norton in about 12 minutes of their bouts had no answer for Ali in Zaire, he lost by a knockout to the most stylish boxer of all time, Ali.
Foreman enjoyed beating his opponent quickly. Ali endured stressing his opponent for many rounds, thus toughening his own skin in the process.
Foreman is powerful, Ali is durable and when the two met, the more durable one won. Ali frustrated Foreman and knocked him down and out in round eight.
In the last two years, three boxers had engaged themselves in two non-title fights.
First, it was Deontay Wilder and Robert Helenius, later Anthony Joshua and Helenius. The heroes were Wilder and Joshua.
I have seen many of Wilder’s fights. Wilder is a powerful puncher. No boxer of today’s era can take his blow and not fall.
The American knows he has got the weapon and will not waste his time learning the art of boxing. He is not bothered about footwalk or creative boxing, he only lures his opponent to a corner to do the damage.
In some of his matches, Wilder was losing on points until he could fire a shot with his right hand. He had won almost all his fights by a single blow. No boxer had survived the fall except the Gypsy King, Tyson Fury.
The Briton defied the American thrice to win and retain the coveted green belt, the WBC. Fury showed the world that Wilder could not last many rounds because he was not trained for that.
Wilder is a knockout specialist and he has what it takes to survive a light puncher. He absorbs those punches and retaliates with one sledge hammer. But the day he met a heavy puncher in Fury, Wilder’s body cracked, he kissed the canvas.
In his fight against Helenius, the American lured the Finnish to a corner and hit his nostrils with a big jab. Helenius was the one attacking before a stray jab finished him.
However, against Anthony Joshua, the Finnish was running away while the Briton creatively landed a devastating hook that fell Helenius.
The two bouts; Wilder/Helenius and Joshua/ Helenius reveal two different angles between a Wilder who was not creative in his victory and a Joshua who was ingenious in his win.
In boxing, Joshua’s idea like that of Ali is more appreciated because it defines the beauty of the game, the artistry and power. Of course the spectators want to see blood and knockout; they want to see brawl. They also want it in style not in a swift.
The noise of Wilder vs Joshua has rented the air after the two had dispatched Helenius. If it will happen next year, only the more durable of the two will win.
The one who can absorb the firepower of the other will carry the day. Many have said that Joshua cannot take punches but his last four fights had shown he could win and lose while still standing on his feet just like Ali.
He had gone 36 rounds before fighting Helenius and I think he deliberately refused to go another 12 rounds to make a statement and also give his fans a new aura, perhaps to stop the boos.
They began to boo him in round three against Helenius just because they wanted to see a knockout. He created one for them at the O2 Arena last Saturday.
Joshua lost against Andy Ruiz jr by technical knockout on his feet. He lost twice to Olelsandr Usyk, one by unanimous decision and the second by split decision on his feet.
He went to win Jermain Franklin by unanimous decision.
Wilder lost his third fight to Fury kissing the canvas. Who says he cannot lose to Joshua biting the canvas. And can Joshua also stand the Wilder’s power?
These are two questions begging for answers and until the two meet in the ring, all predictions remain a mere forecast.