A year on from his Olympic triumph in the super heavyweight boxing category, Anthony Joshua, 23, has announced his decision to leave the amateur code and move up to the professional cards.
Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn signed Joshua to his Matchroom Sport promotional banner in late July and, after just a few weeks of working with him, could tell the kind of future Joshua has in store. “I think we’ve got someone who can go on to achieve great things in the sport in general and the heavyweight division,” Hearn said. “The heavyweight division is one which everybody gets excited about and I think we’ve got the real deal here.”
Hearn’s faith in his new man is so huge that he already has a three-year plan that would see the 23-year-old take to the world stage in the search for success. “I think within three years he’ll be ready for world titles. If we’re looking at him boxing eight times a year, he’ll be 24-0 at the end of a three-year period.”
The super heavyweight division at the Olympics debuted in 1984 with American Tyrell Biggs winning gold. Biggs then made the step up to the professional card and was always high up in the rankings of his chosen category. Other winners of the super heavyweight category have been, most notably, Lennox Lewis in 1988 at the Seoul Olympics and Wladimir Klitschko in 1996 at Atlanta, both of who went onto to very successful professional careers.
The biggest compliment Joshua can be given is to be compared to either of the above successful boxing champions and no one is better positioned to comment than Lewis himself. “Anthony has got a lot of raw talent, great power, punching ability and tremendous potential, all the qualities you need to be a future world heavyweight champion,” said Lewis. “In many ways he reminds me of myself.”
That final remark would send shivers of excitement down any young boxer, especially after the career Lewis had. Anybody would feel privileged receiving such high praise from arguably Britain’s best heavyweight boxer. Joshua’s mind is firmly in the right place though, and after his Olympic triumph he spoke of his determination to stay level-headed. “If fame comes, I’m going to be okay with it,” he said, “but I want to avoid being hyped up and made out to be something more than I am.”
His first professional bout will be held at London’s 02 Arena on 5th October as part of the Lee Selby vs Ryan Welsh and Kevin Mitchell vs Gary Sykes card. This will undoubtedly be the first of many for the 23-year old and he will be determined to show off his potential against whoever his opponent will be.