1045 GMT June 19, 2019
Nothing ignites the hype as feverishly as the emergence of a big man with a big punch and the unbeaten 26-year-old superheavyweight 2012 gold medalist —chiseled, 6ft 6in and with dynamite in his fists — fits the bill perfectly.
On Saturday, he fights America’s IBF champion Charles Martin at London’s O2 Arena and can become the first boxer to hold a version of the professional world heavyweight title while being reigning champion in the Olympics' heaviest weight division.
“Hmm, Olympic champion and world pro champion at the same time. It’s the ultimate double really. That would be really cool if I could,” Joshua told Reuters in an interview.
Only exceptional fighters win global professional titles while still reigning Olympic gold medalists including Muhammad Ali, who beat Sonny Liston for the world title in 1964 while holding the 1960 Olympic light-heavyweight crown.
Boxing greats such as Sugar Ray Leonard, Oscar de la Hoya and Floyd Patterson have also achieved the feat.
As gold medalists at heavyweight or superheavyweight, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Lennox Lewis, Wladimir Klitschko and Alexander Povetkin all went on to win world heavyweight belts but not in the same Olympic cycle or at Joshua's destructive pace.
He has won all 15 of his paid fights inside the distance — just 32 rounds in all in his 30-month career — leaving even Klitschko marvelling at “his amazing potential, like no other boxer I’ve seen.”