Anthony Joshua is without a doubt one of the cash cows in boxing due to his good looks and almost Adonis like physique! However, many fight fans can be quick to discard Joshua’s ability at times for being a “one trick pony” or “bodybuilder who boxes”.
In this boxing style analysis, I want to go against these myths to highlight how Joshua uses simplicity and correct boxing fundamentals for his style that has got him to boxing stardom, from the amateurs to unified heavyweight world champion.
Who Is Anthony Joshua?
First off here is little background on Anthony Joshua before I get onto breaking down his boxing style.
Joshua is originally from Watford, England and started boxing at the later age of 18 in 2007. Since then AJ has gone to exceed what many would expect, getting into the England and GB amateur boxing teams having turned down the chance to go professional.
Joshua would then get called up to 2011 World championships earning Silver in the super-heavyweight division. It was in 2012 when Joshua really came to stardom when he competed at the London Olympics winning gold before deciding to turn professional soon after.
Joining up with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing, he was targeted for stardom and over a period of three years and stacked up countless KOs before his first real challenge against Amateur rival Dillian Whyte. It was here Joshua’s chin was tested, but he also showed his ability by knocking out his fellow British rival.
Joshua would then get his opportunity for his first world title fight against brash talking American, Charles Martin, who he dismantled with ease! AJ would then go on to fight Klitschko at Wembley in front of 90,000 to unify with the WBA belt in a classic heavyweight bout! Joshua would then once again snap up another belt against New Zealand’s Joseph Parker for the WBO Belt holding three of the 4 recognised world title belts!
The biggest shock of his career to date came at the hands of Andy Ruiz Jr, in his American debut in 2019 where he took his first defeat as a professional. Six months later he would get his rematch against Ruiz Jr in Suadi Arabia, putting on a true boxing display to become a two time heavyweight world champion.
Joshua recently came up against hard hitting Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev in a mandatory defence who he took out in devastating fashion.
WBA (Super) heavyweight Title x2
WBO Heavyweight Title x2
IBF Heavyweight Title x 2
IBO Heavyweight Title x 2
2010 Gold a Great Britain Championships – Super-heavyweight
2010 + 2011 – Gold at ABA Championships – Super-heavyweight
2011 – Silver at Baku World Championship – Super-heavyweight
2012 – Gold at London Olympics – Super-heavyweight
Anthony Joshua’s Boxing Style
Anthony Joshua has a typical boxer puncher style where he takes advantage of his size and athletic ability to take out his opponents, while using simplicity at the heart of it. As Lao Tzu says:
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
Joshua is not the greatest boxer in the world, but he has certainly mastered the basic boxing fundamentals of good strong and solid jab to help set up his power shots. A tight defence with his right hand close to his chin to defend against hooks, while bobbing in and out or circling round to create distance from his opponent.
AJ does have a mean streak when it comes to finishing off his opponent and will tend to pounce on them once hurt by throwing right hand straights, uppercuts and hooks to take them out.
Working alongside trainer Rob McCracken, who was the main British 2012 Olympic Boxing coach, he has managed to keep up these solid principles in Joshua’s style that has truly benefited him in the long run in my opinion.
Below I’ll look at these aspects of his style in more detail.
The Jab is key
Joshua’s jab is probably one his most underrated weapons and key things he uses while fighting. He uses the jab primarily to set up his big right hand with a typical 1-2 to apply pressure and create range for defence.
There have been two fights where we have seen Joshua use the jab to superb effect against quality opposition in Joseph Parker and Andy Ruiz Jr in their second fight.
After his fight with Joseph Parker, Joshua even said the following about the importance of the jab:
“A right hand can take you round the block, a good jab will take you round the world”
Joshua understands the importance of the jab and these have probably been two of his best ‘boxing’ displays to date. Using the jab in textbook clinical fashion to set up shots and create distance. Joshua is also very good at varying up his jab and in particular will jab to the body against the majority of the opponents he has faced. (He’s not a head-hunter in any means!)
Here is a great video I recommend to watch by Mind Smash who talks about the strategy Joshua used behind his jab and boxing IQ to defeat Ruiz Jr in their rematch:
Using genetics to his advantage
Anthony Joshua, as a heavyweight, definitely uses his genetics and size to his advantage and although he gets labelled as a bodybuilder by some, his mass in size has benefited him in this division.
In the heavyweight division, efficient and clean technique are sometimes all you need due to the force of mass behind the punches that are thrown.
In the case of AJ, he stands at 6ft 6, with a reach of 82 inches and a huge muscular frame he has built-up in the gym over many years of strength and conditioning training. However, at times this has in fact been a weakness for Joshua, as having bigger muscles creates more lactic acid, which can therefore cause fatigue – especially going into the later rounds.
But despite this, every time Joshua hits his opponent’s cleanly, they will feel the damage in most cases and not recover. Even against Wladimir Klitschko this was seen, a very experienced heavyweight champion that could not withstand Joshua’s power and pressure once he was hit cleanly.
So by using his massive frame to his advantage Joshua has been able to dominate most heavyweights – why wouldn’t you!
Defence + Simple Footwork
Joshua’s defence is also very textbook, where he uses a high guard to block against hooks and uses his jab to create distance. If his opponent tries to get up on the inside of Joshua he will tend to try and tie you up and clinch on the inside so the referee can break up and create distance again so he can go back to using his jab and footwork.
My one criticism would probably be his lack of upper body/head movement, but he excels in the other areas to use his size and reach to his advantage instead.
He also likes to also keep his right-hand close to his chin which is a typical textbook defensive technique to protect himself against hooks and also parry against jabs. Here is great clip of Joshua working on blocking and slipping punches whilst using footwork with trainer Rob McCracken.
In terms of footwork Joshua likes to circle round his opponent not staying in the same place for too long. He tends to bob in and out range in most cases, as he waits for the right shot to present itself.
Here are some great clips showing all the above in action of AJ against Povetkin, Takam, Parker and Whyte, using his underrated defence.
Joshua is in fact a very patient fighter who will tend to take this time and wait for his opportunity to attack opponents with a common 1-2 or lead straight right or left hook. Once AJ has them hurt in most cases, he tries to walk them down throwing barrages of hooks and uppercuts in the pocket to take them out once and for all. However, I imagine he will be more careful with this going forward considering what happened against Andy Ruiz in their first fight, getting caught off guard.
In my opinion, he is one of the best finishers in boxing and due to his sheer size, mass and good use of technique -this plays a big part when it come to finishing them off!
Check out the video from Hanzagod below of Joshua in his earlier career finishing off his previous opponents.
Anthony Joshua without a doubt has a great textbook and clinical approach to boxing. He doesn’t have the greatest reflexes, hand speed or footwork, however AJ uses his size and technique fundamentals so effectively to make him one of the most dangerous heavyweight right now through simplicity.
AJ also has a very underrated boxing IQ which I think opponents have overlooked in the past , leaving them with no real answer to combat him. This is especially when he uses his jab and ability to set up shots with it causing much caution from his competitor.
If you are an upcoming boxer, looking to improve your technique and fundamentals, AJ is a great example to learn from that simplicity can sometimes be the greatest weapon in boxing.
Hope you enjoyed this boxing style review and make sure to let me know if there are any more boxing styles you would like me to feature in the comments below.
Thanks for reading!
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