Monday, February 06, 2023  |


Anthony Joshua crushes Kevin Johnson in two rounds



Five-and-a-half years ago Kevin Johnson went 12 rounds with Vitali Klitschko and appeared one of the tougher, more durable members of a moribund heavyweight division. But that was back when his legs could still move, his punches popped out a little more freely, and his ambition was hovering somewhere above zero. Tonight in London, though, Johnson was crushed inside two rounds by 2012 Olympic gold medalist Anthony Joshua; it marked the first time Johnson had been stopped and represented the most impressive scalp on Joshua’s 13-fight unbeaten resume. On this evidence, AJ looks the goods.

Then again, Johnson appeared a shadow of his former self and no amount of pre-fight bluster and bravado could gloss over the fact there were clear reasons why he’d lost his last three fights on the spin, albeit over the distance, and of late hasn’t been winning rounds, let alone fights. And so it proved. Johnson was as pedestrian as Joshua was explosive, as safe as Joshua was adventurous and as tame as Joshua was ferocious. It was a mismatch in every sense of the word.

Take nothing away from Joshua, though. No man has ripped through Johnson in this fashion – not Vitali Klitschko, not Tyson Fury, not Dereck Chisora. He essentially dissolved the American with a single right hand, thrown as Johnson slumped against the ropes, and then didn’t let up from that point on. Further punches slammed against Johnson’s head and body. He fell through the ropes. The fight seemed as good as over. It was still only round one.

Alas, the second round was utterly pointless. It served only to delay Johnson’s beating. It prolonged his pain. By the time the so-called fight was finally stopped, at around the halfway mark of round two, nobody was surprised.

Thirty-six-year-old Kevin Johnson hasn’t thrown a right hand in years – anyone who’s watched the man knows this much – but tonight he seemed hesitant to even throw his left, a punch that has effectively carried him over the years. Call it age, call it the threat of a 25-year-old musclebound Olympic champion, but, whatever it was, Johnson was brought over to be knocked out – for a statement to be made – and he duly lived up to his side of the bargain. He brought talk, he said all the right things, but, in the end, Anthony Joshua got exactly what he wanted from the assignment. Not rounds, not a test, but the chance to put the heavyweight division on notice.