Johannesburg - Anthony “AJ” Joshua’s crowning as the world’s undisputed heavyweight champion has sparked debate about whether or not Britain is once again the home of the world’s top boxers.
Joshua caused a stir by getting off the canvas in the sixth round to stop legendary Wladimir Klitschko in the 11th round to claim the International Boxing Federation World Boxing Association and International Boxing Organisation heavyweight crowns at Wembley Stadium last Saturday.
His victory made the entire boxing world sit up and take note of his exploits as arguably the finest heavyweight to emerge from Britain in a long time.
Frank Bruno and Lennox Lewis led the pack as the best in this class in their time – the late 1980s and early 2000s, respectively.
Bruno, a former World Boxing Council (WBC) heavyweight title-holder, used his punching power to win fights, and 38 of his 40 wins came via the short route.
His career was brought to an end by Mike Tyson, who knocked him out in the third round of their WBC title match in 1996.
But Bruno was a good ambassador for Britain and his cunning exploits in the ring haunted many foes.
The towering Lewis had a great fistic run that earned him several championships (see graphic).
His last fight was a stoppage win over Klitschko’s elder brother Vitali for the WBC and IBO diadems in Los Angeles in 2003.
His most famous win was when he knocked out Tyson in the eighth round to retain the titles of a year before.
How does Joshua compare with his compatriots Bruno and Lewis?
The Watford-born fighter, who sports a tattoo bearing a map of Africa on his right shoulder, can pack a mean punch, just like his countrymen used to during their fighting days.
But Joshua is a special breed in that he has forced all of his 19 foes to fall before they got the chance to go the full distance.
His record is so good that he’s the UK’s best heavyweight export so far.
In a tweet a few days ago, Tyson likened Joshua’s epic victory over Klitschko to the way his (Tyson’s) sensational knockouts once regalvanised the heavyweight division.
He suffered an 11th round stoppage at the hands of British fighter Tony Bellew in a non-title bout at the O2 Arena in Greenwich, London, in March.
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