Joshua not laughing as he faces the Joker who could end his dreams


nthony Joshua used to regularly frequent a Tottenham club in his early days in amateur boxing.

The area has changed immeasurably and so, too, Joshua. Gone is the nightclub in question to be replaced by flats, while just up the road Tottenham Hotspur Stadium now hogs the horizon.

The juxtaposition of the two locations, the latter playing host to his latest title defence, highlights just how rapidly Joshua has risen in the past decade.

Back in those clubbing days, boxing had just got him back on the straight and narrow after some run-ins with the law, although he was still allowing himself the occasional big night out while weaning himself off that past existence. In recent years, his has been living something of a monastic existence… sleep, eat, train.

It was barely 18 months out from London 2012 that he first started taking the sport seriously, highlighting his relative infancy in the ring compared to the man he faces in N17 tomorrow.

Joshua (right, in training this week) and Oleksandr Usyk’s careers have been unknowingly intertwined, although Usyk had not particularly featured on the Londoner’s radar much before their respective 2012 Olympic golds.

By that point, Joshua had fought just 43 times in the amateur ranks, the Ukranian, an early starter in the fight business, having boxed in the region of 350 bouts before turning professional.

Nine years on from a golden Games in London, it makes for a thoroughly intriguing fight, the first time since facing up to Wladimir Klitschko that it seems entirely plausible Joshua might lose.

He has tasted defeat in the pro ranks before, at the hands of Andy Ruiz Jr, but that was a blip and a loss that never should have happened. In contrast, the threat of Usyk is very real.

There is a boldness for Usyk to take on the heavyweight world champion in only his third fight at the weight but, in turn, promoter Eddie Hearn highlighted the risk that Joshua is taking in facing a fighter whom others might have shied away from.

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