This coming weekend, 24-year-old rising heavyweight star and Olympic gold medallist Anthony Joshua will fight for his first title as a professional boxer.
Joshua will face off with a man ten years his senior in Denis Bakhtov of Russia this Saturday at the 02 Arena.
Bakhtov is vastly more experienced than Johsua in the professional game with a record standing at 38 wins and nine losses. He has been in with the likes of Corey Sanders, Vyacheslav Glazkov, Alexander Ustinov, Danny Williams, Manuel Charr and Konstantin Airich, the man who Joshua most recently faced off against.
His record would suggest that he should be a step up in quality for Joshua who has dispatched each of his eight opponents within three rounds. Whether Bakhtov will provide a test for Joshua is doubtful as the likeable gold medallist seems too good at this level.
The vacant WBC international heavyweight title will be on the line for the two men but the title is of little significance other than to move Joshua up in the world rankings.
Joshua - standing at six foot six with a ripped physique - will have a clear physical advantage over the smaller Russian. Joshua will look to work behind his solid, sickening jab before landing the big right hand and forcing Bakhtov out of there.
One of the most impressive things about Joshua so far has been that he hasn’t gone out looking for the knockout. He has instead looked to use his skills and the knockouts have come along naturally. This should help him when he progresses to opponents which he can’t just blow away.
Joshua has now been a professional for just over a year and the maturity of his work seems way beyond his age and experience and there is a real buzz surrounding him at the moment. For many he is the next great hope of the heavyweight division but his progression must be carefully planned if he is to live up to this expectation.
Provided that Joshua does come through this fight with Bakhtov successfully, then next up is a fight with the veteran British fighter Michael Sprott on the undercard of Bellew v Cleverly II in Liverpool on November 22.
Aged 39, Sprott is a very experienced fighter with 42 wins and 22 losses on his record but he isn’t expected to last long with Joshua. Sprott has been a decent fighter for a long time but Joshua is so talented and powerful that he is expected to make light work of him.
Big fight to come
Looking forward to next year, Joshua looks set to face off with a higher calibre of boxer with the likes of Dereck Chisora, Tyson Fury, David Price and even David Haye being mentioned.
The timing of such fights would need to be right as they are clearly several leagues above the men Joshua is fighting now and would represent a much higher risk to Joshua.
On a potential fight with Haye, promoter Eddie Hearn has said: ‘“In the world of boxing and particularly in this country, a fight between David Haye and Anthony Joshua in 2015 is a stadium event.
“It’s a huge, huge fight with massive potential and I think again the rate that Anthony is progressing - by the time the winter comes round in 2015 - these are the guys that Anthony is going to be facing."
Joshua has also spoken about the prospect of facing the other top British heavyweights: “I work hard. You have to be confident in your ability. I believe I can compete with these guys at a high level, probably get a win, but is it about competing with these guys in a tough fight, 12 rounds, coming out battered and bruised - or you bide your time?"
“When the time is right, these fights will happen. Right now October 11 is my priority and in the future, on a piece of paper, these names are on a tick list down the line and hopefully we can do it at Vicarage Road or Wembley. Somewhere special.”
Big times are in store for Joshua over the next couple of years and it should make for compelling viewing to see how he progresses.
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