Currently ranked #3 in the world by BoxRec, heavyweight boxer Anthony ‘AJ’ Joshua is a former unified world heavyweight champion, but lost his titles, for the second time, by unanimous decision, to Oleksandr Usyk at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on September 25, 2021. He also lost a rematch with the unbeaten Ukrainian, by split decision, at the Jeddah Superdome, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on August 20, 2022, thereby taking his professional record to 24-3-0, including 21 knockouts.
The first time Joshua lost his titles, and his hitherto unbeaten 22-0-0 record, at Madison Square Garden, New York on June 1, 2019, he was on the receiving end of one of the major upsets in boxing history. Making his debut in the United States, in a fight in which he had, frankly, little to gain, Joshua was knocked down four times by his unfancied opponent, Andy Ruiz Jr., before losing by technical knockout in the seventh round.
Ruiz Jr. took what was described as the ‘opportunity of a lifetime’ when the highly-regarded Jarrell Miller was denied a boxing license by the New York State Athletic Commission after testing positive for a variety of prohibited substances. He was identified as a ‘potential banana skin’ for Joshua by one pundit, but generally regarded as having minimal chance of beating the Briton, who was priced up at a prohibitive 1/25 to retain his titles.
Nevertheless, the fact that Joshua was defending a pre-fight record of 22-0-0 bears testament to his early success and meteoric rise to the top of his profession. The Watford-based fighter made his professional debut at the O2 Arena, London on October 5, 2013, when he needed just 2 minutes and 47 seconds to register a first-round technical knockout of his opponent, Emmanuel Leo.
After a succession of early stoppages, Joshua was taken beyond three rounds for the first time by compatriot Dillon Whyte, again at the O2 Arena, London, on December 12, 2015; Joshua won that bout by technical knockout in round seven. It was not until the eight fights later, at the Principality Stadium, Cardiff, that defending WBO world heavyweight champion Joseph Parker took him the distance but, even then, Joshua won by unanimous decision.