The Boxing Time Machine: Lewis vs Joshua
By Henry Walter
Anthony Joshua has catapulted himself onto the front page of online news outlets around the world today after making comments labelling former heavyweight great Lennox Lewis a clown.
The fallout from his comments has been enormous and has prompted many to debate who would have won if the two had fought in their respective primes. The majority have seemed to favour Lewis, yet it is hardly a fair question.
Lewis had a longer career and can be judged on his entire career, as he is long retired. Joshua can only be judged on on what he has achieved so far, in just 23 fights. Lewis, for his part, retired with a record of 41-2-1.
A far fairer way to compare the two is to imagine a scenario where they fight at the same stage of their careers. Lennox Lewis 23-0 vs Anthony Joshua 22-1, who would have won?
Lewis’ 23rd fight saw him win a unanimous decision over Tony Tucker, then 48-1, in the first defence of his WBC heavyweight title. It was an excellent performance that highlighted Lewis’ formidable boxing ability.
The win ended a three fight KO streak for Lewis, the highlight of which was a brilliant 2nd round KO win over Donovan Ruddick, who had just given Mike Tyson all he could handle in two close fights.
As everyone reading this will be aware Joshua’s 23rd bout saw him lose to Ruiz but his previous recent outings had seen him easily best top pedigree fighters such as Wladimir Klitschko, Alexander Povetkin, Joseph Parker and Carlos Takem.
Joshua, whilst perhaps not quite possessing Lewis’ boxing abilty, still has excellent boxing skills and couples this with world class power and an aggressive style.
So who would have won if they fought each other with both having twenty-three fight records?
Both men would likely have given the other problems. Lewis would have looked to control the action with his superior jab and more polished skills but Joshua would have pressed the action constantly and would always have been a danger.
Lewis could be hit and hurt and Joshua has serious power. It would be fascinating to see how both men handled each others skill sets.
Ultimately Lewis would perhaps be that bit too good for Joshua at these respective stages. Factor in Lewis’ own power and his greater amatuer background (Lewis was a veteran of two Olympics and had far more amateur fights than Joshua) and it’s hard to envisage a Joshua win.
Its impossible to know who really would have won but if it could magically happen my money would be on Lewis to win via late stoppage.