Anthony Joshua MBE says he’ll thrive under the pressure of making his professional debut live on Sky Sports on Saturday night at The O2 in London.
The Olympic Gold medal hero takes on unbeaten Italian Emanuele Leo (8-0) as part of a star-studded line-up with Scott Quigg’s WBA Super Bantamweight showdown with Yoandris Salinas, big fights for British stars Kevin Mitchell and Lee Selby and a second pro bout for his fellow Gold medal winner Luke Campbell MBE.
Joshua roared to victory at London 2012, handling the intense scrutiny of the being behind in his final showdown with Roberto Cammarelle with the last boxing gold medal up for grabs, and the 23 year old says that experience will be invaluable as he looks to put on a show in his first taste of the paid ranks.
“I was lucky enough to be a part of the Olympics with the media attention all the way up to the Games, during the Games and beyond, so I’m used to being under the spotlight and I’m comfortable there,” said Joshua. “It feels less pressurised than the Olympics really, Leo is coming over with an 8-0 record and will want to spoil the party so it’s going to be a tough first fight for me.
“I’m really proud to be making my debut on such a massive show – this really is the big time now. Leo has got in the ring eight times and won eight times so he knows what he is doing and he’ll want to make that nine from nine. He’ll be feeling the pressure of that record, it’s a great feeling to be an undefeated fighter and he’ll want to keep that going.
“I am very calm, whoever is put in front of me I’m going to give it my best and I am sure he will. I’ve been like since the amateur days, because I knew that with the limited experience I had, in order to get to the top of the amateur world I had to beat the best in the World, so even when I was a real novice I was fighting the number one in the world when I was ranked number 50 and I just thought, ’OK, let’s get it on’.
“I’ve had a lot of time in the gym to work on a lot of things and I’m looking to forward to putting it all on display. I’m in good condition, I think I’ve improved, I will be nice and relaxed, so I’m in a good place before Saturday.
“We’ve got a game plan, we’ve got a few shots that we think will rattle his cage so if it comes together it should be a great night. It’s a fantastic line-up with Kevin Mitchell, Lee Selby and my GB team mate Luke on the bill too so it’s a must-see night that promises fireworks, and for me, it’s the first piece of the puzzle.”
Joshua’s debut is part of an action packed night in Greenwich alongside his fellow Gold medal winner Campbell, with Quigg vs. Salinas for the WBA strap, Lightweight World title challenger Mitchell meets Marco Lopez for the vacant IBF Inter-Continental title and Selby defends his British and Commonwealth Featherweight belts against unbeaten Ryan Walsh.