Blue-chip heavyweight prospect Anthony Joshua isn’t about to slow his schedule after crushing Denis Bakhtov, an experienced opponent many thought would extend Joshua a bit, in the second round Saturday in London.
Joshua (9-0, 9 KOs), who was in his first scheduled 10-rounder and claimed his first professional regional title, let his hand fly and tore Bakhtov apart, setting the stage for a quick return against British journeyman Michael Sprott in Liverpool, England, on Nov. 22 on the undercard of the Nathan Cleverly-Tony Bellew rematch.
“I thought he was going to be taking me five or six rounds but it's going well and I'm putting the work in at the gym and it's paying off on fight night,” Joshua, the 2012 British Olympic super heavyweight gold medalist, said of his quick dismissal of Bakhtov. “I think it's my accuracy really more than the power. I haven't been doing much strength work recently because I have been in the gym so much, so I think speed and accuracy is getting me through right now.
“He came out game and as a fighter you can tell someone wants to have a go. He tried to slip in a left hook and I adjusted and thought, 'OK, this is what you are bringing to the table.’ I was back at The O2 (Arena) and in London for the first time in a while so the adrenaline was pumping.”
Joshua, who turns 25 on Wednesday, is now turning his attention to Sprott (32-22, 17 KOs), an experienced fighter and a former British champion.
It’s doubtful that Sprott, 39, will last long against Joshua, however. Long-faded former title challenger Kali Meehan knocked him out in the first round in June and Sprott has been stopped 12 times. Joshua has not been extended into the fourth round yet.
As far as Joshua is concerned, the Sprott fight will end the first phase of his pro career.
“People have been saying since my second fight, 'he needs to stop fighting tin cans' and all that," Joshua said. "It takes time, though, and if I keep beating people, then I am going to move up, so if I beat Michael then I am sure we'll be stepping up in 2015. We've done Bakhtov and got the WBC international belt and now we're looking at Sprott, so by the end of 2015 it will be interesting to see where we are.”