Fight Revisited: A London rivalry fuelled with heavyweight violence

The two rivals went toe-to-toe at London's O2 Arena with the British and Commonwealth titles on the line.

An all-British grudge match between the two top heavyweight prospects in the world. Sure enough, fireworks ensued.

The eventual fight between Anthony Joshua and Dillian Whyte was years in the making. Both heavyweights were unbeaten going in. Joshua had won his first 14 pro fights via KO/TKO, while Whyte was unbeaten in 16 professional fights (13 via KO).

The duo were fighting for the vacant British heavyweight title, as well as Joshua’s newly-won Commonwealth heavyweight title.

Joshua vs Whyte was confirmed in the ring after Joshua had just stopped Gary Cornish in the opening two minutes of the 1st round. Joshua was reaching the point in his career where he needed challenges before world title ambitions.

In his previous fight to Cornish, Joshua stopped Kevin Johnson, who was known for being very durable throughout his long career. He had been in some high-profile fights with Vitali Klitschko, Tyson Fury and Derek Chisora, who had all failed to stop the American heavyweight.

But Joshua tore through Johnson inside the opening round for the first time in his career. 

Bad blood reignited

In 2009, Joshua and Whyte met in the amateurs, and it was latter who won that one. In the build-up to this fight, the "Bodysnatcher" kept mentioning their amateur fight to try to get in Joshua’s head.

Whyte also branded Joshua a fake, with him trying to build his image as a humble sportsman to make more money.

Fighting in front of a sold out O2 Arena in London, on Sky Sports Box Office, the duo met in the middle of the ring in the opening round and immediately started to unload on each other.

Sticking his tongue out as he tormented his bitter foe, Joshua wobbled Whyte after landing a series of left hooks.

The Brixton man hung on after a tough last minute of the round, but a Joshua punch after the bell sparked some carnage.

Whyte fired a punch straight back at Joshua which set off an invasion of the fighter's entourage into the ring. After a long break, we were ready for round two.

Whyte was a lot calmer in this round, but Joshua was still hurting his opening with some persistent punishment. This was until a vicious left hook from Whyte on the ropes rocked Joshua with just over a minute of the round to go.

Now Joshua - for the first time in his short career - was in big trouble.His legs had turned to jelly and no longer was he taunting his rival, instead Joshua was fighting for his life.

Looking jaded, Whyte tried to continue his pressure on Joshua by trying to finish off Matchroom Boxing's golden goose.

However, Joshua recovered and rediscovered his touch in the fourth round with several combinations landing on Whyte. 

All hell broke loose between Joshua and Whyte after punches were landed on each other after the bell
All hell broke loose between Joshua and Whyte after punches were landed on each other after the bell

Early on in the seventh round, Joshua caught Whyte with a flush right hand to the temple, forcing the former kickboxer into a desperate clinch for the first time in their encounter.

Smelling blood, Joshua unloaded on Whyte as he fell into the ropes. A savage uppercut followed, dropping Whyte to the canvas and as he tumbled through the ropes, referee Howard Foster had no choice but to halt proceedings.

Joshua proves champion spirit in riding Whyte wave

It proved to be a defining fight for both men. Joshua's next fight saw him become world champion with a ruthless victory over Charles Martin for the IBF strap while Whyte has gone on to become a pay-per-view star under Hearn's guidance. 

Eddie Hearn shows off Anthony Joshua's world title belt
Eddie Hearn shows off Anthony Joshua's world title belt

A rematch between the duo would be huge but it all depends on the heavyweight landscape in 2021 with Joshua expected to face Fury while Whyte has a rematch with Alexander Povetkin on March 6.

While it is unlikely they will cross paths again this year, fans will be hoping for another showdown between the two fierce rivals before both decide to hang the gloves up.

By Lewis Oldham (@LewisOldham99)

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