Anthony Joshua will make the fourth defence of his IBF crown against unfancied Carlos Takam at the Principality Stadium, Cardiff, on Saturday evening.
Ahead of the fight, the Londoner steps out with a perfect record, (19-0, 19 KO) and has been typically respectful of the Frenchman, whose record is admirable if not spectacular.
But, even the most hopeful punter will be expecting nothing less than explosive Joshua victory.
It is testament to the style and pace at which he’s propelled himself to the top, dragging a feted weight class; with all its myth, legend, and pageantry along with him.
If the boxing press had not already been convinced with the massive box office appeal or his blistering second round knock out to capture his first world title, the epic Klitschko fight was a watershed moment.
Many thought it a step too far for a fighter still in the process of becoming; still liable to make mistakes, a man who’d never even been past the seventh round against lesser opponents.
Concerns that for a few rounds after he had dropped the Ukrainian in the fifth, seemed believable. And, whilst the manner in which he overcome deserves a dissertation of its own, suffice it to say he found a way, he belongs at the top. Add guts and desire to the overwhelming power and steely focus, then.
And focus, as much as anything, has been a hallmark of Joshua’s ascent.
A level headed eagerness to learn from each of his opponents, to respect what they had to offer, even if it was (and often) just a single round.
Bravado has never been part of the package, Joshua not so much boasts perfect record as crafted it meticulously and with quiet self-confidence. Fans and purists appreciated the humility in a game so often lacking in it.
That is why when the man of such humility and focus speaks about his ambition, one tends to take him deadly seriously.
In a recent interview with Jeff Powell of the Daily Mail, hyping the Takam fight, Joshua gave the last insight into the future direction of his sky rocketing career
“Let’s talk about how I win the four world heavyweight titles,” Joshua replied, almost without hesitation. “No one has done it since 1988, right? And with the politics of boxing, is it possible that I can do that?"
There are a few names, of course, that would have their say first, more fights to come. The men holding the two other straps; Deontay Wilder (WBC) and Joseph Parker (WBO).
Tyson Fury may yet still emerge from a sorry situation and re-enter the fray. On top of that, you’re only ever one good punch away from losing it all.
Perhaps his toughest obstacle may not come in a pair of gloves, but institutional. Unification fights have always been fraught with difficulty; politics, money, broadcasting. Sanctioning bodies and mandatory challengers often conspire to beat a fighter outside of the ring.
Klitschko dominated the division and played the politics aspect shrewdly, he never held four belts.
With WBO having struggled for credibility well into the noughties, the division has arguably not had a true undisputed champion for any substantial, uninterrupted amount of time since Tyson’s unstoppable eighties, when the WBO belt didn’t even exist.
“No one has won four belts at heavyweight,” said Ron Lewis of The Times. “When Tyson was champion the WBO didn’t exist.”
But, speculation and ‘what ifs’ has never been Joshua’s style.
It all begins again for him on Saturday in Wales capital. Now, would anybody doubt the current IBF and WBA champ in his mission?News Now - Sport News