Dan Rafael: Anthony Joshua

Matchroom's early fall schedule

July, 9, 2014
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Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn, who has an exclusive deal to provide the fights seen on subscription sports network Sky Sports in the United Kingdom, unveiled the early part of his fall Sky schedule on Wednesday and it’s ambitious.

Here’s a look at the schedule so far:

" Aug. 30: Newly signed middleweight contender Matthew Macklin and heavyweight prospect Anthony Joshua, the 2012 British Olympic super heavyweight gold medalist, will appear in separate fights atop a card in Dublin, Ireland.

" Sept. 13: Junior featherweight titleholder Scott Quigg will make his fourth defense against an opponent to be determined in Manchester, England. Lightweight Anthony Crolla will also be in action in the show.

" Sept. 27: Super middleweight Paul Smith, who is with Matchroom, is headed to Germany to challenge titleholder Arthur Abraham on a Sauerland Event card.

" Oct. 4: British and Commonwealth featherweight champion Josh Warrington will headline a card in his hometown of Leeds, England. Also on the card, Jamie McDonnell will defend his bantamweight world title.

" Oct. 11: A card at the O2 Arena in London will include super middleweight contender James DeGale, lightweight contender Kevin Mitchell and another appearance by Joshua as well as a featherweight title elimination fight between Lee Selby and Joel Brunker. The winner becomes the mandatory challenger for the titleholder Evgeny Gradovich.

" Oct. 25: Lightweights Luke Campbell, a 2012 British Olympic gold medalist, and Tommy Coyle will fight in separate bouts in their hometown of Hull, England.
Anthony Joshua Scott Heavey/Getty ImagesOlympic star Anthony Joshua will get his first legit test as a professional when he faces Matt Skelton.
Through six professional fights England's Anthony Joshua, the 2012 Olympic super heavyweight gold medalist, has fought six marshmallows. And knocked them all out. Easily. Inside two rounds.

He has yet to have a moment of real competition as a pro.

The 6-foot-6, chiseled 235-pound Joshua has all the looks of a future champion, but who really knows until he has a test? Any kind of test. Somebody that just might hit back. At least a little.

That is the job of countryman Matt Skelton (28-8, 23 KOs), who faces Joshua on July 12 at Echo Arena in Liverpool, England on the undercard of a show featuring cruiserweights Tony Bellew and Nathan Cleverly in a separate fights as a prelude to their eventual rematch.

Now Skelton is 47 years old and has lost two fights in a row (a decision to John McDermott and a second-round knockout to David Price). But the point of the fight with Joshua is for promoter Eddie Hearn to put an experienced fighter in front of Joshua who at least has a chance to stand up for a few rounds.

Compared to the opponents Joshua has faced so far, Skelton might as well be Muhammad Ali.

"Matt is my toughest test in the pros, there's no doubt about that," Joshua said. "I hope he's training hard so that we can put on a good show in Liverpool. It's my first fight in the city and it's on a great bill so I'm looking forward to a really big night and looking to put in a performance worthy of the stage.

"I am sure he's going to come to make a statement and he's certainly a different type of challenge. He'll be sitting on my chest, putting pressure on me and throwing shots and testing my chin so I have had some new things to work on in the gym and that's what it is all about for me, working on the inside, working on my defense and my counters and looking to keep it long and using the double jab."

Skelton is a good puncher and has plenty of experience (nearly 200 rounds worth of pro fighting compared to Joshua's fewer than nine full rounds). He has won the British, Commonwealth and European titles and lost a decision to Ruslan Chagaev in a world title bout in 2008.

So if Skelton can catch Joshua on the chin -- a big if -- we just might see him tested. Joshua is aware of his opponent's power.

"People are asking 'what's his chin like?' Well, I'm not going to stick it out there to be hit by Skelton so people can find out. Every fight is a dangerous fight at heavyweight and the sensible thing his not to get hit," Joshua said. "Carl Froch said that the greatest chin is the one that doesn't get hit and he's right. At the minute it's about evading shots and working my way up the rankings. I am so far away from where I want to be that it's hit and not get hit, hands up and chin down, slipping shots and get my opponent out of there as soon as possible.

"Mike Tyson knocked out 12 of his first 16 opponents in the first round. People were saying in his early days that he needed more rounds and he had to step up. Obviously, there will be questions on the way and as long as I come up with the answers then that's all that matters."
In 2011, Nathan Cleverly retained his light heavyweight world title by majority decision against Tony Bellew in Liverpool, England in a terrific and closely contested fight. Many thought Bellew had done enough to win, but Cleverly got the nod on scores of 117-112, 116-113 and 114-114.

There has been talk of a rematch since, although each man went on separate paths.

[+] EnlargeTony Bellew, Valery Brudov
Scott Heavey/Getty ImagesFresh off a victory in his cruiserweight debut, Tony Bellew is on a collision course for a rematch with Nathan Cleverly.
Cleverly made three more title defenses before getting waxed by Sergey Kovalev in the fourth round last August. Then Cleverly moved up to cruiserweight, where he debuted in May and knocked out Shawn Corbin in the second round, as expected.

Bellew eventually got another title shot but got crushed by Adonis Stevenson in a sixth-round knockout loss in November. Like Cleverly, Bellew also moved up to cruiserweight and stopped Valery Brudov in the 12th round in March.

Now Wales' Cleverly (27-1, 13 KOs) and Bellew (21-2-1, 13 KOs), of England, are being positioned for the rematch that needs to happen. They are going to appear on the same July 12 card in separate bouts at the Echo Arena in Liverpool, England. With victories, their rematch is ticketed for the fall.

Matchroom Sport promoter Eddie Hearn has not announced their opponents yet.

"There's real animosity between Tony and Nathan as they aim to overcome one final hurdle before they meet in October," Hearn said.

Also on the card, 2012 Olympic super heavyweight gold medalist Anthony Joshua (6-0, 6 KOs) of England will step up in competition and take on former world title challenger Matt Skelton (28-8, 23 KOs).
Heavyweight prospect Anthony Joshua, the 2012 Olympic super heavyweight gold medalist, is 5-0 with all of his wins coming by knockout. Each of the fights were scheduled for six rounds, but that made no difference because Joshua won all of them by knockout inside two rounds.

But for his sixth professional fight, Joshua is moving into a scheduled eight-round bout. Matchroom Sport promoter Eddie Hearn announced Monday that Joshua will take on Matt Legg on May 31 in a fight that has been added to the undercard of the rematch between super middleweight titlist Carl Froch and George Groves at Wembley Stadium in London, where a crowd of some 80,000 is expected.

Legg (7-2, 3 KOs) is coming off an April 26 knockout win, but in the fight before that he was stopped in the third round by the long-faded James Toney in the quarterfinals of the “Prizefighter” heavyweight tournament in November.

“I can’t wait to box at Wembley on May 31. It’s going to be an unbelievable experience,” Joshua said. “To box at the national stadium on a bill of this magnitude is a real honor and I plan to kick the night off with a bang against Matt. I know he will want to put on a show on such a huge occasion but I will be looking to add another big KO to my collection.”

Also on the card, super middleweight contender and 2008 British Olympic gold medalist James DeGale faces Brandon Gonzales in a final eliminator for the right to challenge the main event winner as a mandatory; former bantamweight titlist Jamie McDonnell faces Tabtimdaeng Na Rachawat for a vacant bantamweight belt; and Kevin Mitchell and Ghislain Maduma fight in a final eliminator to determine the mandatory challenger for lightweight titlist Miguel Vazquez.

Joshua to fight at Wembley

April, 7, 2014
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The hand injury that England’s Anthony Joshua, the 2012 Olympic super heavyweight gold medalist, picked up in his first-round knockout of Hector Avila on March 1 will be enough to keep Joshua from his next scheduled fight, Matchroom Sport promoter Eddie Hearn announced.

Joshua (5-0, 5 KOs), who turned pro in October, was supposed to fight on April 19 in Manchester, England, on the undercard of junior featherweight titlist Scott Quigg’s defense against Nehomar Cermeno.

Although the hand injury will keep him off the card later this month, Hearn said Joshua will return May 31 -- no opponent yet -- at Wembley Stadium in London for a fight on the undercard of the much-anticipated rematch between super middleweight titlist Carl Froch and George Groves. A crowd of some 60,000 is expected at Wembley Stadium.

“Anthony will play a massive part of the huge Wembley show on May 31,” said Hearn, adding that he hopes to announce Joshua’s opponent this week. “We’re looking at stepping him up on the biggest stage British boxing has ever seen. Anthony picked up a hand injury in Glasgow [on March 1] and although it’s healing well, he will be short for April 19 in Manchester. It’s disappointing but I am sure he will be on fire at the national stadium.”

Joshua back in action Feb. 1

December, 18, 2013
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Anthony Joshua Scott Heavey/Getty ImagesBritish Olympic star Anthony Joshua returns from injury to face Dorian Darch in Cardiff, Wales.
England's Anthony Joshua, the 2012 super heavyweight Olympic gold medalist, had to pull out of last Saturday's card in London because of a sore shoulder. But now that Joshua's shoulder is feeling better, the fight has been rescheduled for Feb. 1 in Cardiff, Wales, Matchroom Sport promoter Eddie Hearn announced this week.

Joshua (3-0, 3 KOs) will take on the same opponent he had been scheduled to face on Dec. 14, Dorian Darch (7-2, 1 KO), who lasted the six-round distance with Hughie Fury, one of England's other top heavyweight prospects, in September.

Topping the bill at Motorpoint Arena will be Lee Selby (17-1, 6 KOs) of Wales taking on England's Rendall Munroe (27-3-1, 11 KOs) for the vacant European featherweight title. Selby's British title will also be at stake.

Former junior welterweight titlist Gavin Rees (37-3-1, 18 KOs) will face Gary Buckland (27-3, 9 KOs) in a lightweight bout on the undercard. Rees has lost two fights in a row, including getting stopped in the fifth round of a one-sided world title fight by Adrien Broner this past February.

Martin Murray bout rescheduled

November, 29, 2013
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Interim middleweight titlist Martin Murray is once again scheduled to fight, this time on Dec. 14.

England’s Murray was initially scheduled to defend his belt in Australia against Garth Wood on Dec. 11, but the fight fell through. When that happened, Murray (25-1-1, 11 KOs) was added to the Carl Froch-George Groves undercard in Manchester, England, on Nov. 23 to face Ukraine’s Sergey Khomitsky (28-9-2, 11 KOs) in a 10-round nontitle bout. But Murray got ill and withdrew from the bout.

Now that he’s better, Matchroom Sport promoter Eddie Hearn announced that Murray-Khomitsky has been rescheduled for the undercard of his Dec. 14 show at Excel Arena in London. That card is topped by British lightweight contender Kevin Mitchell (35-2, 25 KOs) against Italy’s Brunet Zamora (25-1-2, 11 KOs) and European welterweight champion Leonard Bundu (29-0-2, 10 KOs) of Italy in a defense against England’s Lee Purdy (20-4-1, 13 KOs).

Murray last fought in April, dropping middleweight world champion Sergio Martinez but losing a tight decision to him in Martinez’s Argentina homecoming fight.

Hearn also announced the rest of the slate for the Dec. 14 card, which includes British middleweight prospect Anthony Ogogo (3-0, 2 KOs), who claimed a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics at the Excel Arena.

Anthony Joshua (3-0, 3 KOs), the 2012 British super heavyweight Olympic gold medalist, is also on the card, as is former bantamweight titlist Jamie McDonnell (22-2-1, 10 KOs), who will be fighting for the second time in four weeks.

Joshua off Froch-Groves card

November, 19, 2013
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Heavyweight Anthony Joshua, the 2012 Olympic super heavyweight gold medalist from England, was due to fight on Saturday’s Carl Froch-George Groves undercard in Manchester, but promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sport announced Tuesday that Joshua is off the show because of a biceps strain.

The 24-year-old Joshua (3-0, 3 KOs) has been busy, turning pro on Oct. 5, having his second pro fight on Oct. 26 and his third on Nov. 14, and winning each fight by knockout inside of two rounds. If Joshua’s strain is OK, he is due back for his next fight on Dec. 14 in London.

Interim middleweight titleholder Martin Murray (25-1-1, 11 KOs), recently added to the show when a title defense in Australia against Garth Wood fell through, now has an opponent -– Ukraine’s Sergey Khomitsky (28-9-2, 11 KOs) -- for the 10-round non-title bout.

Joshua, Mitchell share British card

November, 4, 2013
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Anthony Joshua, the 2012 British Olympic super heavyweight gold medalist, and lightweight contender Kevin Mitchell will be in two of the featured bouts on the final big British show of the year, a Dec. 14 card at the ExCel London that Matchroom Sport promoter Eddie Hearn announced Monday.

Joshua (2-0, 2 KOs) blew out Paul Butlin in the second round Oct. 26 in his second pro fight, and returns for his third bout Nov. 14 in London on a card that also features the next installment of the “Prizefighter” series. But Joshua is also scheduled to be in his fourth fight on the Dec. 14 card against Dorian Darch (7-2, 1 KOs) of Wales.

Mitchell (35-2, 25 KOs), who has won two fights in a row since a fourth-round knockout loss to Ricky Burns in a September 2012 lightweight world title bout, will face Italy’s Brunet Zamora (25-1-2, 11 KOs) in a 12-rounder.

In another bout on the card, Lee Purdy (20-4-1, 13 KOs), in his first fight since being routed in by Devon Alexander in a welterweight world title fight in Atlantic City, N.J., on May 18, will challenge Leonard Bundu (29-0, 10 KOs) for the European welterweight title. Let’s see if Purdy can make 147 pounds, which he missed for his shot at Alexander, who stopped an uncompetitive Purdy in the seventh round. Purdy also missed weight for the bout he had before facing Alexander. Italy’s Bundu will be making his fifth European title defense.

Former bantamweight world titlist Jamie McDonnell (21-2-1, 9 KOs), who won a vacant title against Julio Ceja in May but was recently stripped for failing to make a due mandatory defense, is also slated to be on the card. McDonnell’s appearance, however, depends on how he comes through a Nov. 23 fight on the undercard of super middleweight titlist Carl Froch’s defense against George Groves.

Joshua set to follow up pro debut

October, 15, 2013
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Anthony Joshua Scott Heavey/Getty ImagesOlympic star Anthony Joshua, who scored a first-round KO in his pro debut, will return on Oct. 5.

Anthony Joshua, the 2012 Olympic super heavyweight gold medalist, is set for his second professional fight. He'll face Paul Butlin on Oct. 26 at the Motorpoint Arena in Sheffield, England, on the Kell Brook-Vyacheslav Senchenko undercard. Joshua turned pro Oct. 5 at The O2 Arena in London, scoring a first-round knockout of Italy's Emanuele Leo.

"I was happy with my performance at the O2, but I put that behind me now and move on to Sheffield," Joshua said. "You only have one pro debut, and I ended it in spectacular fashion. Every time I step into the ring it is like an Olympic final. I prefer the pro game a bit more than the amateurs. Not neglecting the amateurs, but this feels like the real deal. When I was getting my hands wrapped it took about 30 minutes to get them properly wrapped and to fit my hands into the tight, small gloves. It is two guys coming out with their heart on their sleeve trading, and I really enjoyed it.

"To have another fight just three weeks after my debut is brilliant, exactly what I need for my progression -- keep fighting and keep learning."

Joshua's pro debut to air on ESPN3

October, 3, 2013
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Fight fans in the United States will be able to watch a legal stream of the big fight card at the O2 Arena in London on Saturday.

The card, headlined by the professional debut of 2012 British Olympic super heavyweight gold medalist Anthony Joshua, will stream live beginning at 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN3.com after a deal was finalized on Thursday.

[+] EnlargeAnthony Joshua
Scott Heavey/Getty ImagesBritish Olympic gold medalist Anthony Joshua, left, makes his pro debut Saturday against heavyweight Emanuele Leo in London.
The 23-year-old Joshua faces Emanuele Leo (8-0, 3 KOs) of Italy in the six-round main event.

The stream, which will use the Sky Sports call of the fight from the British broadcast, will also include several undercard bouts, including England's Scott Quigg (26-0-1, 19 KOs) against Miami-based Cuban Yoandris Salinas (20-0-1, 13 KOs) for a vacant junior featherweight title and lightweight contender Kevin Mitchell (34-2, 24 KOs) against Marco Lopez (23-2, 14 KOs).

Joshua is pumped up to get his pro career started after reaching the pinnacle as an amateur.

"I'm really proud to be making my debut on such a massive show -- this really is the big time now," Joshua said. "Leo has got in the ring eight times and won eight times so he knows what he is doing and he'll want to make that nine-for-nine. He'll be feeling the pressure of that record. It's a great feeling to be an undefeated fighter and he'll want to keep that going.

"I am very calm. Whoever is put in front of me I'm going to give it my best and I am sure he will. I've been like that since the amateur days, because I knew that with the limited experience I had, in order to get to the top of the amateur world I had to beat the best in the world. So even when I was a real novice I was fighting the No. 1 in the world when I was ranked No. 50 and I just thought, 'OK, let's get it on.'

"I've had a lot of time in the gym to work on a lot of things and I'm looking forward to putting it all on display. I'm in good condition. I think I've improved. I will be nice and relaxed, so I'm in a good place before Saturday."

Anthony Joshua's pro debut foe set

September, 25, 2013
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A few notes from the boxing world:

• Anthony Joshua, the 2012 British Olympic super heavyweight gold medalist, had his Oct. 5 pro debut opponent announced on Wednesday. Joshua will face 32-year-old Emanuele Leo (8-0, 3 KOs) of Italy in the six-round main event of a big card at the O2 Arena in London, Matchroom Sport promoter Eddie Hearn announced. The card also includes Scott Quigg against Yoandris Salinas for a vacant junior featherweight title, lightweight contender Kevin Mitchell against Marco Lopez and featherweight prospect Lee Selby defending his British and Commonwealth titles against Ryan Walsh. Also, lightweight prospect Luke Campbell, the 2012 British Olympic bantamweight gold medalist and Joshua’s teammate, will have his second pro fight on the card.

• Super middleweight contender Thomas Oosthuizen (21-0-2, 13 KOs) of South Africa, who is coming off a poor performance in a 10-round split draw against Brandon Gonzalez on June 29 in his HBO debut, returns Nov. 9 in his home country, co-promoter Lou DiBella told ESPN.com. Oosthuizen will square off with Argentina’s Ezequiel Osvaldo Maderna (20-1, 13 KOs) in a scheduled 12-rounder at Emperors Palace in Kempton Park, near Johannesburg, on a card being put on by Golden Gloves promoter Rodney Berman, DiBella’s partner on Oosthuizen. Maderna won his only fight since suffering his lone defeat, a 10-round decision loss to Edwin Rodriguez in the semifinals of the Monaco Million Dollar Super Four tournament in March.

• Former junior bantamweight titlist Juan Carlos Sanchez (17-1-1, 9 KOs) of Mexico and Zolani Tete (17-3, 15 KOs) of South Africa have both told the IBF in writing that they are willing to participate in a final eliminator to produce the mandatory challenger for titleholder Daiki Kameda (29-3, 18 KOs), who won the vacant belt Sept. 3. It became vacant because Sanchez failed to make weight for a June defense. But Sanchez plans on staying at 115 pounds and will meet Tete in the eliminator. The sides have until Oct. 7 to make a deal or a purse bid will be ordered.

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