Anthony Joshua’s ‘psychological damage’ caused by Wladimir Klitschko despite huge win
Anthony Joshua has endured a very difficult few years and former European champion Spencer Oliver believes his downward spiral may have began with his huge victory against Klitschko
Wladimir Klitschko began the spiral of events that dented Anthony Joshua’s confidence, according to Spencer Oliver.
The Brit recorded one of his greatest ever boxing victories when he knocked out the imperious Ukrainian in the 11th round of their enthralling bout at Wembley Stadium in 2017. As well as adding the WBA World Heavyweight Championship to his IBF crown, Joshua cemented himself as one of the top heavyweights in the world.
However, the Ukrainian did manage to inflict a huge blow on the Olympic Gold medallist by knocking him down in the sixth round. But while Joshua did go on to beat Carlos Takam, Joseph Parker, and Alexander Povetkin in his next three fights, before getting knocked out by Andy Ruiz in 2019, Oliver believes the first seeds of doubt were planted by Klitschko.
“It’s the psychological damage that has been done,” Oliver said to TalkSPORT. “Some fighters, when they’ve had that knocked out of them, he’s been knocked out now, that Ruiz knockout was a bad one.
“But I think the damage started to be done from the Klitschko knockdown.” When told that Klitschko did not knock him out in the same way Ruiz did, Oliver quickly countered: “it was a slow, systematic beating really, if I’m honest.”
“The referee was looking at him and the referee said, ‘walk forward’. I’ve seen fighters walk forward, that are like they are on rubber legs. The ref is going ‘are you alright’ and they are going ‘yeah’ and I’m looking at them going ‘no he ain’t alright’. But with the Joshua situation, he lent back on the ropes, the referee went ‘walk forward’ and he didn’t want anymore.”
Joshua is currently recovering from his second consecutive defeat to Oleksandr Usyk, who has overcome the Brit by a unanimous decision and a split decision in their last two fights. With his ‘Battle of Britain’ clash with Tyson Fury now dead in the water, the likes of Dillian Whyte and Chris Arreola have been touted as AJ’s next potential opponents. And Oliver believes Joshua needs to channel his more ruthless and ferocious side of his game, which saw him register 21 knockouts in his first 22 fights.
“I don’t know if he can rediscover that,” Spencer added. “Even though in his own head – this is how a fighter would going in – he’ll be ‘right I’m going to go in there, I’m going to be a wrecking machine, I’m going to go, now I know what I’ve got to do’.
“But when the bell goes, the psychological damage [comes in] and you can see they don’t want to commit. Because he’s been knocked out and hurt a few times, from the opponents’ side, he’s not invincible.”